Toshiba Portégé   Z830

Review: Toshiba Portégé Z830

This Toshiba ultrabook offers oomph in a small form factor.

On campus, it's not only students who move around, but also faculty and staff — to the auditorium for a lecture, to an office for staff hours, to a conference room for a department meeting, to the cafeteria for lunch, to the library for research. Technology travels along on a lot of these hops, so the lighter the device the better.

For collegiate IT departments weighing their options when it comes to portable but highly functional devices, Toshiba has delivered the Portégé Z830 ultrabook. The notebook computer weighs less than 2.5 pounds but sports a powerful Intel Core i7 Pro processor, 6 gigabytes of RAM and ample ports.

End-User Advantages

The Z830 measures a half-inch thick, though it's a bit thicker at the back. Toshiba's ultrabook includes two features not often found in this device class: a 15-pin VGA connector and an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet network connection. These ports come in handy for connecting external displays such as projectors or for linking to campus networks.

Boasting a 13.3-inch LED backlit screen, the Portégé Z830's 1366x768 pixel resolution (with native support for 720p) is adequate for creating content or watching video. Just above it sits a 1.3-megapixel webcam and microphone, useful for on-the-fly video conferencing. Connectivity options include Ethernet, Intel Centrino 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi or onboard Bluetooth 3.0. Users will find two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port on the back, and a USB 3.0 port within easy reach on the right side.

The spill-resistant, raised-tile backlit keyboard suits even large fingers. Pressing and holding the function key yields a display of all the keys with special functions (such as wireless on/off and brightness), which is user-friendly in dimly lit environments.

Toshiba managed to cram in an eight-cell battery, which lasted about five hours while Wi-Fi was enabled. During normal use with Wi-Fi off, the ultrabook can achieve the eight-hour battery life Toshiba touts in its specifications.

Why It Works for IT

IT managers will appreciate the Z830's network port. Systems administrators often need to connect to the network for initial setup, troubleshooting or installing large files. This feature alone may be worth a price premium.

1.8 gigahertz Clock speed of the Portégé's Intel processor, which bumps to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost technology

A magnesium alloy case offers sturdiness and flexibility. A honeycomb-structured cover provides resiliency, and the base and cover bend without damage. The base is held together with 14 screws, and an 8-inch hinge binds it to the cover.

In terms of performance, the Z830 shines where other ultrabooks fall short. A 128-gigabyte Serial ATA solid-state drive offers all the onboard storage most users will need, especially in this era of cloud storage. If IT managers desire more power and space, Toshiba has future Portégé models in the works that offer 8GB of RAM and a 256GB drive.

Disadvantages

Users who prefer a pointing stylus over a touchpad will be disappointed to find that the Z830 doesn't include one. For the touchpad-phobic, there's an on/off button for disabling the standard touchpad, however.

Like many portable devices today, the eight-cell battery is not user-replaceable. IT departments will need to send the ultrabook to an authorized Toshiba repair shop to replace the battery. And one other minor quibble: The half-pound power adapter slips a little too easily out of the back of the computer.

Oct 02 2012

Sponsors