Toshiba Portégé Z835-P330 Ultrabook Review

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We're going to let you in on a little secret, and while you're free to pass it on, understand that nobody will ever believe you. In fact, if you do share this secret, you might suffer a barrage of insults, and depending on your stature, could even end up with a wedgie. You've been warned. Are you ready? Here goes: Many Windows users, even die hard ones, have a secret lust for Apple's MacBook Air. Yup, we said it, and now we'll give you a moment to clean the coffee off your monitor and keyboard.

Few Windows users will ever admit it, but the MacBook Air is a finely crafted laptop from a physical design standpoint. It's exceptionally thin, extremely lightweight, and terrifically styled. We can say this because it's our job to check any biases at the door before showing up to work, and if we're being totally honest, then there it is. So what is there for Windows users these days? Up until recently, there really were not many equivalent solutions, but with the introduction of Intel's Ultrabook form factor, suddenly it's a whole new ball game.




Toshiba's Portégé R835-P330 is one of just a handful Ultrabooks currently available and is part of a new breed of laptops intended to blend ultra-portability with performance. Thin, lightweight, and well equipped, the Ultrabook form factor is the direction the Windows laptop market is headed, but first manufacturers have to get a grip on price. Early Ultrabook models have struggled to stay below the $1,000 ceiling Intel has encouraged them to stay under.

Toshiba's Z835-P330 gets there, and with room to spare. It's available at Best Buy for $800, and we've seen it on sale for as low as $700. It's the least expensive Ultrabook model currently available, and unlike Acer's Aspire S3, which is another lower-priced Ultrabook, Toshiba's model sports a dedicated 128GB solid state drive for storage chores (the Aspire S3 features a 320GB HDD + 20GB SSD). It also has a backlit keyboard, 13.3-inch LED backlit display, USB 3.0 support, and even a GbE LAN port.

How is it that Toshiba can offer a seemingly full featured Ultrabook for less scratch than the competition? That's a great question, and is one of many we'll be answering on the following pages. But first, a little teaser from Toshiba...



Toshiba Portégé Z835-P330 Ultrabook
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel® Core i3 2367M Processor
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Chipset Intel® QS67 Express Chipset
Graphics Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
Memory 4GB DDR3 1333 MHz DRAM
Display 13.3" 16:9 (1366x768) HD TruBrite LED Backlight
Storage Toshiba 128GB SG2 mSATA 3Gbps SSD
Networking Integrated 802.11 b/g/n
10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
Interface 1 x Headphone-out jack (Audio-in Combo)
1 x USB 3.0 port
2 x USB 2.0 port (1 with Sleep and Charge)
1 x HDMI
1 x VGA
Battery Li-Ion (47Wh, 8-Cell), Up to 8.28 hours
Power Adapter 45W (19V 2.37A) Auto-sensing, 100-240V / 50-6-Hz input
Dimensions 0.33-0.63 (H) x 12.4 (W) x 8.94 (D) inches
Weight 2.47 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty 1-Year Parts and Labor; 1-Year Battery
Pricing: $929.99 MSRP; $799 street as tested

If you look closely at the spec sheet, you'll see part of the reason why Toshiba is able to sell the Z835-P330 for several hundred dollars less than a grand. It starts with the Core i3-2367M processor, a definite downgrade compared to the Core i5 and i7 processors found in nearly every other Ultrabook. We were also suspect of the SATA 3Gbps solid state drive, and for good reason. We looked up the specs online (PDF), and according to Toshiba, the SG2 series is only rated for 180MB/s read and 50MB/s write speeds, and while those are average (as opposed to peak) ratings, the SSD is a far cry from the performance oriented SATA 6Gbps model tucked into the Asus Zenbook lineup (we reviewed here).

Elsewhere things look decidedly better. The Z835-P330 is a 13.3-inch Ultrabook with a large capacity battery, a USB 3.0 port, Sleep and Charge capabilities, an Ethernet LAN port, and an extremely thin frame that weighs a mere 2.47 pounds.

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