Ultrabook perfection. Almost.
Now that most of the big players have released their PC indistry sanctioned Ultrabooks, I don’t need to get into detail about what Ultrabooks are and why they exist. But in case you missed the whole ultrabook frenzy for the past 6 months, here’s a quickie: Ultrabooks are essentially the PC industry’s take on the MacBook Air.
Since nobody could come close to Apple’s formula of getting an all-round laptop in an extremely thin profile chassis, Intel has had $300m invested in this project which will help various OEMs to help design a laptop that uses their low-powered CPUs with integrated graphics. Additionally these ultrabooks should run SSDs, be in a unibody chassis in 13” or higher screen size and provide a long battery life of 6+ hours. All of this for about $1000 (AED 4k with import costs and markup).
So today I’ll be looking at the Toshiba Portégé Z830, designed to meet Intel’s requirements, and exceed our expectations on what an ultrabook should be.
The first time you look at the Toshiba Z830 you’ll be really impressed by its 1.6cm profile and its magnesium alloy body. It continues to impress when you hold it and realize it weighs a puny 1.2kg, making it one of the lightest 13” laptop in the world.
The magnesium alloy body has a honeycomb structure underneath, which Toshiba claims makes the Z830 very stiff. Sure enough, I tried to flex the main chassis from top left and bottom right, and the Z830 would barely bend. I didn’t put too much pressure lest it breaks, but rest assured, it survived a drop from our office desk without a scratch.
The screen on the other hand, which measures just 0.3cm, will easily bend around if you apply enough pressure. Not a big deal, but one should be careful when using it in public transport or other cramped places.
Given its unibody structure, the Z830 carries its brushed metal finish inside out, making it one of the most appealing laptops on the market, right alongside the MacBook Air and the Sony Z series laptops. Very smartly designed, the Z830 has minimal ports on the side, with the majority of wired connections reserved for the back. So on the left we only have the audio ports and memory card reader and on the right we have the USB 3.0 port (only one on any ultrabook to date). Meanwhile on the rear panel we have the two USB 2.0 ports, the HDMI and power plugs. Interestingly, both the LAN and VGA ports are designed in line with the bottom feet, maintaining the overall slim profile.
The bottom panel is completely flat, with just one grill near the top for the exhaust fan intake. Inside the chiclet styled keyboard is smooth to touch and illuminated with white backlights. Toshiba claims that the keyboard design is spill-proof, but on such a beautiful machine I honestly couldn’t bring myself to test this claim.
Starting up the Z830 I noticed two things: how incredibly fast it is, and how much bloatware Toshiba has added on it. Windows 7 (Home Premium) actually boots up in 11 seconds flat thanks to the internal 128GB SSD. Obviously the Intel Core i5-2467M running at 1.6GHz (Turbo Boosting up to 2.3GHz) really helps. The 4GB of RAM included in the system is adequate for most tasks and applications.