Seeing the light
The keyboard is backlit with white light shining through the letters on the keycaps, although it is not obvious to me when the backlight is supposed to operate automatically. I would have thought that working in a dark room would turn it on, but apparently not always: as far as I can determine, the backlight comes on and goes off according to the Z830’s mood.
Backlit keys or mood lighting?
The keycaps look small with a rectangular button-like appearance but the keyboard is pleasant enough to type on. My only complaint here would be with the two vertical cursor keys, which are so close that it is impossible to distinguish one from the other by touch alone.
In front of the keyboard is an 8.5 x 5cm trackpad plus two shiny click-buttons at the front edge. Synaptics TouchPad drivers support one- and two-finger gestures inclusing scroll, zoom and rotate. Best of all, the touchpad is highly sensitive and only requires a gentle touch, making for fast and efficient manipulation.
Despite the rugged appearance, the display flexes all too easily and is tweakable
There is a row of LED status icons in front of the click-buttons, which seems an odd place to put them, considering that they’ll be hidden under your hand most of the time. They tell you things such as whether the computer is on or off, whether you have enabled Eco mode and whether Wi-Fi is enabled – but the buttons and keys that control these features are on the other side of the keyboard. Why not put the LED status icons there instead?
Despite the 13in size of the screen, it supports a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is more commonly employed for 11in displays. Still, it’s bright and clear, except in Eco mode, whereupon it becomes murky and illegible. It also suffers from the viewing angle limitation that most notebooks suffer from, so you’ll need to tilt it back and forth a fair bit before finding that visual sweet spot.
PCMark 7 Results
Longer bars are better
On a much more positive note, I applaud Toshiba for taking the trouble to provide full-size connectivity ports for VGA, HDMI and Ethernet in addition to a USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. This is probably the only Ultrabook on the planet that you can take with you anywhere without needing silly little adapters. Flying in the face of conventional Ultrabook design, the Z830 even has some of the ports arranged along the back edge, and they are well-spaced so that, for instance, you can plug in a memory stick without obscuring adjacent ports.
Next page: Endurance over performance
£1080, and you get a lovely glossy 1366x768 screen powered by wonderful integrated intel graphics...
Err, no thanks.. You're paying about £700 for the form factor of this machine..
Re: "Seriously, who the hell would buy this laptop?"
Someone that needs a laptop for actual work, and not just for posing / dicking around?
You thought right.
Add approx £200 to equip the Air with the same ports the reviewer bigs up. Plus no USB 3 on the mac. Thats already the price of another shiny gadget to bring it up to spec.
Apple might have the better software, but who cares when this whole market is aimed at fashion victims and show offs. Home computing never used to be like this. I'll stick to hackingtoshing a £400 old school laptop and put up with this flexing of cases mystery that seems to have everybody concerned all of a sudden.
I thought Apple was supposed to be the company selling "overpriced" kit?
Seriously, who the hell would buy this laptop?
Apple's cheapest 13" MacBook Air comes with a much better display, with a higher 1440 x 900 resolution, a proper unibody case that doesn't flex, a lid you can open easily with your fingers without the need for additional tools, longer battery life, a Thunderbolt connector that lets you connect to both an external display and a number of data connectors with just one cable (Apple's 27" display also includes a bunch of other ports, acting like a docking station), and Apple bundles software people might actually want to use, and which has a refreshing lack of endless, annoying, pop-ups.
Oh yes: you also get a 1.7GHz mobile Core i5, instead of the i3 in this pile of Tosh.
All for a whopping... £19 more.
Why LEDs on the front edge?
"Why not put the LED status icons there [above the keyboard] instead?"
Because it's nice not to have to open my laptop in order to see whether it's awake or if I need to see why the disk is going nuts. Opening the lid is a bit tricky, fair enough -- on the other hand, given how light these things are, if it were easy to open you'd be complaining about the loose hinges.