First look at Toshiba's Portégé Z830 Ultrabook
The executive's choice?
IFA 2011 Toshiba was keeping its Portégé Z830 under glass at IFA, so while we couldn't pick it up and click away, we could at least get some snaps and make some initial observations.
Toshiba's Z830: the conservative user's Ultrabook choice?
Where Acer has accepted that Apple's MacBook Air was the clear inspiration for Intel's Ultrabook spec, and designed its machine accordingly, Toshiba has adopted its usual slightly dry, business-sober design strategy, producing a machine that's not unnattractive but no head-turner either.
Indeed, Toshiba seems deliberately tried not to go down the Apple 'design above all' route. Yes, the Z830 is not as pretty as the Air or Acer's Aspier S3, but it has three full-size USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI - the latter arguably more useful than the Air's DisplayPort connector.
The Z830 has a mic port, as well as the usual 3.5mm headphone jack and SD slot
So it's a smidge thicker than the other Ultrabooks we've seen so far, but more functional.
Less than 18mm thick
Not bad for an ultra-skinny machine that's set to be very portable indeed. Clearly, I couldn't judge the Z830's weight, but if it has the same kind of magnesium alloy chassis as Toshiba's past thin'n'light PCs, plus what's clearly a plastic case, it's not going to strain your muscles overly.
There's a USB port and the inevitable Kensington slot on the right side
Lighhtweight laptops encourage people to carry them more casually, though, and it'll be interesting to see if the plastic Z830 is more or less resilient to drops, knocks and bumps than the metal clad Air and S3.
Toshiba opts for a raised lid hinge and incorporates its now customary low-power "Eco" button
Toshiba hasn't talked pricing yet, and we suspect the Z830 won't undercut the S3 and probably not the Air, either, at least not when it comes to models with Air-alike specs. Toshiba could surprise us, but the Z830 seems so aimed at an executive audience, we can't really see this machine being prices for consumers.
A full-size keyboard, and a left-shifted trackpad.
But only Pro-oriented machines will have the fingerprint sensor
And, as with the S3, we'll have to wait to see how the Z830 performs and how well whatever capacity of lithium-polymer battery Toshiba has put into it will last. Likewise whether the battery is removable and other components are easily accessible.
Ethernet, VGA, HDMI and two more USB ports on the back
nice, but one thing (apparently) missing
Integrated 3G, integrated 3G... where are you? At least there is no some hope of getting that in one of the ultrabooks, it seems Apple just isn't interested in providing that option.
Toshiba might be the one to provide it as an option, at least - this is the least-MBA like ultrabook so far.
Less Resilient? I don't think so.
If you drop a laptop with a plastic case, the plastic mostly rebounds, or cracks for excessive force. If you drop a laptop with an aluminium case, the case dents permanently.
I've had a few of the Apple models over the years, and to be honest, I found the white polycarbonate MacBook to be the most resilient of all; the Aluminium models retain the evidence of every time they've slid of a chair (brushed aluminium has much lower friction than gloss polycarbonate), or been dropped, or had something fall onto them, and look like crap once they've been through a year of actual outdoor use.
My Macbook Air was the wost: it had a nasty dent in the corner of the lower half after an encounter with the floor of Heathrow T5 security; the only way to get the unit to close afterwards was to take a heavy pliers to the revolutionary unibody enclosure and bend it back flat. (The casework is so expensive on a MBA it wasn't worth replacing)
Apple didn't adopt metal enclosures for toughness, it was purely to make the units thinner. The metal-skinned units were a lot more fragile than the plastic ones they replaced.
"And, as with the S3, we'll have to wait to see how the Z830 performs and how well whatever capacity of lithium-polymer battery Toshiba has put into it will last."
As we do with every Apple product under the sun, since they're the geniuses that decided batteries shouldn't be removed without a tool kit... I don't see the same snide remarks in your MacbookAir pieces though?
The Tosh looks like a cool computer for those of us that actually want to use a laptop instead of just wanting an accessory to pose with. This is a good thing, unless you're a poser with an Apple fetish ;)
> but other ports at the back too! Amazing. I cant understand why this factor has been ignored
> for so long by manufacturers
It's because somebody somewhere (Apple, probably) decided it looked cooler if the screen hinge dropped the bottom of the screen behind the main body of the machine.
Also, a lot of laptops have the battery along the back edge, so that you can have an extended battery that sticks out.
TBH, I like having the USBs on the side, you don't have to turn the machine round (ripping half the cables out) to find the port to plug your thumb drive into.
Not only a VGA Port at the back.......
but other ports at the back too! Amazing. I cant understand why this factor has been ignored for so long by manufacturers and we have to have all manner of cables jutting out the sides of our laptops. Never looks very nice or tidy when sat on your stylish desk.