Toshiba Portégé Z835-P330 Ultrabook Review

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To really appreciate the Z835-P330, you need to get up close and personal with it. There aren't any wild designs or flashy LEDs to draw your attention to it, just a solid mix of metal and plastic in a frame that's so thin you'll wonder how Toshiba managed to cram any hardware at all inside of it. Dimensions check in at 0.33-0.63 (H) x 12.4 (W) x 8.94 (D) inches, roughly on par with the MacBook Air, but about a half a pound lighter at 2.47 pounds versus 2.96 pounds. It's also less of a tapered design than the MacBook Air or Asus ZenBook.



It's hard to see in pictures, but there's a subtle brushed aluminum motif going on with the silver lid and extending to the wrist rest inside. Chrome colored hinges and Toshiba's logo sitting smack dab in the middle accent an overall attractive machine. When closed, the Z835-P330 feels well built and sturdy despite its lightweight design, though there's a hint of flex if you press down on the lid that will make you leery about tossing around your backpack with this Ultrabook tucked inside.

As for the hardware, we covered the main bits on the previous page, but if you require more processing oomph, Toshiba also offers a couple of better spec'd configurations, including the Z830-S8301 (Core i5 2557M processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 128GB SSD) and Z830-S8302 (Core i7 2677M, 6GB DDR3 memory, 1238GB SSD). The big difference is the processor:
  • Core i3 2367M: 1.4GHz, 3MB cache, 350MHz GPU, No Turbo Boost
  • Core i5 2557M: 1.7GHz, 3MB cache, 350MHz GPU, 2.7GHz Turbo Boost
  • Core i7 2677M: 1.8GHz, 4MB cache, 350MHz GPU, 2.9GHz Turbo Boost
The Core i3 chip with its lack of Turbo Boost is by far the biggest tradeoff you're making with the Z835-P330 compared to other Ultrabooks, and you'll see this play out in our benchmarks.

 

While the body feels tight and sturdy, the little bit of flex we noticed in the lid becomes a whole lot of elasticity when we open it up. The screen is easily bendable to the point where you'll feel like the world's strongest man (or woman) simply by gripping each side and flexing it back and forth. Otherwise, the hinges do a good job of keeping the limp screen in place.

Typing on the Z835-P330 takes a little getting used to. The keys are a little smaller than we would like, and this is especially noticeable on the spacebar. Our thumbs naturally want to sit below the slimmed down spacebar, which is an annoyance until you adapt to the layout. The click action is fair, which is to say it's neither spectacular nor crummy.

Below the keyboard is a two-button touchpad with multi-touch support. It supports gestures like pinch, swipe, rotate, and scroll. There's also a button just above to disable the trackpad altogether.



While typing on the keyboard is an awesome experience, the inclusion of a backlight is totally rad at this price point and gives Z835-P330 owners a point of bragging rights over Asus Zenbook owners. We also appreciate that it's spill resistant.



Another high point is the inclusion of a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port, a feature not found on Acer's Aspire S3, which is currently the only other 13.3-inch Ultrabook that competes with the Z835-P330 in price. For those who do a lot of file transfers, especially large size files, this could very well be a deciding factor between the two models. Also visible on the right-hand side is a security lock slot.



Over on the left side of the Z835-P330 is a microphone jack, headphone jack, and a full size SD card slot, all positioned towards the back.



Most of the I/O ports are found on the rear of Toshiba's Ultrabook. From left to right you'll find a GbE LAN port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 port with Sleep and Charge capabilities, full size HDMI output, DC-in, and a VGA port. There's also a cooling vent on the back where hot air is actively pushed out by an internal fan. There's an audible whir associated with the fan, though it's not obnoxiously loud or whiny.

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