Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: Unlike the Asus Zenbook, Toshiba's Portégé Z835-P330 didn't knock our socks off with surprising performance, objectively or subjectively. Its benchmark scores were good overall, but were clearly tempered by the Core i3 processor with its lack of Turbo Boost, and entry-level at best, SSD. At the same time, this is still a system built around Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, and 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory keeps the system from dragging its feet. It's not a gaming laptop (but you knew that) and subjectively it felt more like a system equipped with a fast hard drive rather than an SSD, but overall it's a good performing ultralight notebook at a reasonable price.
The Toshiba Portégé Z835-P330 is the least expensive Ultrabook on the market right now. It's street price is several hundred dollars less than the Asus Zenbook, and it's even cheaper than the Acer Aspire S3, which doesn't have a dedicated solid state drive (it uses a 320GB HDD and 20GB SSD) or USB 3.0 port. The Z835-P330 has both, along with several other value added features, such as a 13.3-inch display, GbE LAN port, full size HDMI port, and a backlit keyboard. It's extremely light at just 2.47 pounds and boasts good battery life, especially considering its screen size.
These are all nice things to have, but in order to include them on the Z835-P330, Toshiba had to rob Peter to pay Paul a little bit, so to speak. Whereas most Ultrabooks are built around a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, Toshiba downgraded its entry-level model with a slower clocked Core i3 processor that lacks Turbo Boost, which is a double whammy on performance. The SATA 3Gbps solid state drive doesn't pick up the slack, and the flimsy screen is a little concerning. Even the keyboard is a plus/minus affair -- we love the backlight, but aren't enamored with the tight layout or so-so tactility.
It sounds like we're being bipolar, but that's what the Z835-P330 invites to nit-picking folks like us. All things considered, we think it's a fair deal for the price, though if you have the extra cash to spend, you should look at one of Toshiba's higher end models in the Z835 lineup or the Asus Zenbook, which lacks a backlit keyboard but sports faster hardware and better build quality. Then again, in the 13.3-inch Ultrabook arena, this new Toshiba machine is a price leader by a long shot.