back to article Light, fast ... and pricey: Toshiba's Portégé Z30 – now THIS is an Ultrabook

When Toshiba Portégé turned up and I lifted the out of the box, I started laughing. Now, I’m not suggesting that the arrival of Toshiba Ultrabook is a joke, quite the opposite in fact. What amused me was just how light it was – a mere 1.2kg for this 13.3-inch machine. I’d prepared myself to haul something heavier, only to find …

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  1. Graham 24

    Bit surprised about the weight

    I would say 1.2 Kg for an "ultra-light" is heavy. Technology (in terms of weight loss) doesn't seem to have moved on much. Seven years ago, Sony were producing a laptop that weighed less than this and included a built-in optical drive. (http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/laptops-portable-pcs/laptops-and-netbooks/sony-vaio-vgn-g11vn-t-23535/review)

    1. AndyS

      Re: Bit surprised about the weight

      I have a Portage R500, bought for a similar price in 2007. It has an optical drive, similar resolution of screen, and weighs under 1 kg. Now 6 1/2 years old, and comprehensively abused for every miserable year of its existence, (including 20,000 miles through Africa, recording images and data while shoved under the passenger seat of a hilux) it's still running well. I'm actually very impressed with it.

      The only down side is that, to get the weight to 997g, they made it of the cheapest plastic they could find. For the last 3 years it's been held together by araldite and duck tape. As the abuse continues, the quantity of duck tape slowly increases.

    2. ckm5

      Re: Bit surprised about the weight

      That may be so, but a MacBook Air, vaunted for it's light weight, is heavier at 1.35kg (with fewer ports I might add).

      Most of this weight is probably because the batteries are significantly larger. IRC, notebooks from ~7 years ago has a battery life of around 1.5hrs max, now people expect at least 5. This one (and the Air) are rated at 10-12 hours. I have a previous version of this model and it gets 7 hours....

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    >1366 x 768

    >Yes, here at Vulture Central we're very much aware that many of you will have decided not to read further than that last sentence

    Yup, you got that right. Whats the point, YouTube at 144p

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      >1366 x 768

      Do they really think its still 1984 not 2014?

      30 years ago a 768 line was acceptable

      it ain't now.

      Sure I can use an external monitor, but when I'm near my desk I've got a couple of mobile workstations and a desktop machine. I need a box to carry around without getting a hernia but it does need to have a enough dots on the screen to make it usable. Samsung were showing off a 12" tablet with a 2560x1600 screen, why oh why do laptop makers still think its acceptable to try and sell such low quality displays?

    2. Benchops

      Ah! I only read up to "screen resolution isn't full HD but is 1366 x 768 pixels", didn't know what he said straight after that.

  3. Buzzword

    Even 1600 x 900 would be acceptable; but not 1366 x 768, not at this price.

    1. JeeBee

      I'm guessing that they bet that corporate IT departments don't choose laptops based upon screen resolution, but all the other factors written about in the article.

      But I agree that in a 13.3" laptop, 1366x768 has had its day. 1600x900 would be a good "non-HD screen" target to go for (rather than the 2560x1440 displays).

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Bastards. Why???

        Has anybody at these damn laptop manufacturers tried (or suffered) with Office 2010 (the current standard that the majority of businesses seem to be using) on an x768 screen? It's all but unusable due to the waste of space interface elements. It feels like you spend more timing moving crud out of the way and scrolling to see the content than actually reading the damn content that you're using it for. Is x768 in use everywhere because they can pretend that it's a "HD" resolution? Before the switch to widescreen aspect displays the standard display resolutions were going up it was easy to find over 1000 pixels vertical on even the cheaper laptops.

        x768 desktop monitors disappeared into obsolescence years ago which allowed Microsoft to expand the UI elements to "take advantage" of the increase in screen real estate, but with no recourse to a more efficient use of this space (Office 2013's metro incarnation is not helpful) and with laptop builders shifting bog standard low resolution screens on everything it's an ongoing usability problem. As pointed out by JeeBee above, even 1600x900 is significantly better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I've got an HP ultrabook with similar specs (although a much lower price). The 1366x768 works pretty well, since it's a wide screen.

          I've got Office 2013 on it, and it is very usable on that size. Everything fits on the screen quite perfectly.

          For me, it's the widescreen form factor that makes it work. I think if it were not the elongated-13 inch screen, it wouldn't work well at all.

      2. Benchops

        Pixel density

        Think how much heavier it would be with more pixels though

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Agreed. I can just about accept a 1366x768 screen on a budget £400 laptop. But when I'm paying high prices, I don't expect a low-res, cheap-as-chips screen like this. Ideally I expect 16:10 of course for work because screen resolutions have actually gone backwards over the last few years (at work, we're replacing laptops that have 1280x800 res screens with 1366x768. For vertical space, that's a downgrade).

      I still hate how you look at modern laptops and see such a fat bezel at the top and bottom to make up for where usable screen space used to be 3 years ago (this Toshiba is no exception).

      Personally, I'd still go with the Samsung Series 9. <£900 and you get a very sleek ultrabook with a matte 1600x900 screen, backlit keyboard etc. It's not perfect, but it's still pretty decent, and it's a much better display than this!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even 1600 x 900 would be acceptable

      The Google Chromebook Pixel has, I think, 1700px of vertical resolution in roughly the same size, but the battery life is poor. It would be interesting to know how much screen resolution affects power consumption, because this might be a partial explanation of the low res screen.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See the warning about it causing burns?

    On the underside case picture, which also shows the cooling fan is on the bottom, so it's going to overheat if you use it on a bed.

  5. Fuzz

    Think I still prefer my vaio pro

    The vaio pro has 1080p screen, weighs less than this, currently is selling for £950 with a pci-e SSD, no vents on the bottom so it won't overheat sitting on your lap or the bed.

    The toshiba has better battery life and that's about it, if you want more battery life on the Sony you can get the battery slice and I think it will still only weigh slightly more than the Toshiba. Toshiba should get points for providing upgradeable memory. This shows it is possible on a lightweight machine.

    Also as Graham has mentioned above, not just Sony but Toshiba themselves were producing a machine R500/R600 that is lighter than this but included a DVD drive.

    1. FartingHippo

      Re: Think I still prefer my vaio pro

      £950? Not with an i7 it's not.

  6. jason 7

    Fun?

    But you'd still know you bought a laptop with a crap screen.

    You know the bit you look at all the time...to remind you....

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Like the fact it sports Windows 7

    and the fact is is so light. Other than that I much prefer the (beefier) Sony Vaio S series (the ones with nVidia graphics and 1600x900 res (CUDA user, and all that)).

    1. Piro

      Re: Like the fact it sports Windows 7

      Vaio S13 is excellent.

      Don't know why Sony have discontinued it, since it provides the exactly correct balance of.. everything.

      If this Toshiba had a 1600x900 screen, and a core i7-4558U (that's with HD5100) then I'd say it was bang on.

      But with 1366x768 and fairly lacklustre graphics, it's just another laptop.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Obligatory Macbook Air comparison

    So for £40 more than the suggested rrp you can get the 256gb/8gb/i7 version of the 13" macbook air. Chuck in £30 more for usb3/thunderbolt extensions for the missing ports. You have an allround better laptop. MBA has a 1440x900 screen but slightly slower cpu. Same battery life too.

    3? years on into the Ultrabook debacle it seems there's very few machines out there that beat the MBA - mores the pity - coz it shouldnt be that hard to build a MBA with a few more ports.

    How much will the Tosh be discounted by?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Macbook Air comparison

      Plus you don't have to suffer the secure boot crap? Choice of OSX, Windows or Linux.

      If Apple didn't solder the RAM and drives in place they would sell more units.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory Macbook Air comparison

        The MBA SSD is user replaceable - albeit for the average El Reg user. Proprietry connector & screws yes. Soldered in no. That was a nasty rumour about the 2011 MBA that never came true afaik.

        The Ram of course is soldered.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Macbook Air comparison

      So for 70 pounds more I can have a machine with a few more pixels (still nowhere near enough) and less processing power.

      Oh, and it weighs 30% more as well...

      More expensive, less processing power, weighs more and you need oodles of cables to make it useful.

      Yup, sounds better to me.

      Assuming I had the choice (and, thankfully, at present I do) I would take neither of those options...

  9. Anonymous Coward 101

    Craplets must be killed

    I am sick of computer manufacturers adding software to their machines that DOESN'T FUCKING WORK. At any price it is unacceptable, but at £1,300 it is a sick joke.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Craplets must be killed

      Agree entirely, hateful stuff

      At least McAfee crapware has been killed off but I bet theres plenty of it still out there.

  10. dajames Silver badge
    Meh

    You're right about the screen!

    ... and why does it have to be 16x9? A fine shape for TVs and DVD players (says the man with the 16x10 TV) but not tall enough for most PC uses (apart from watching TV and DVDs, and some spreadsheets I suppose).

    Can't we have 1680x1050 as a minimum, 1900x1200 for mid-range (think of it as Full HD with some extra space at the bottom for subtitles), and 2560x1600 for serious work?

    I mean, some 10" tablets have 2560x1600. It's surely not too much to ask to have the same on a larger panel? The MacBookPro does it, and this Tosh costs almost as much. Maybe the crapy intel GPU can't cope?

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: You're right about the screen!

      "Can't we have 1680x1050 as a minimum, 1900x1200 for mid-range (think of it as Full HD with some extra space at the bottom for subtitles), and 2560x1600 for serious work?"

      Now that would be beautiful. Just beautiful. I'd splash out right now if someone could make a 15" laptop with a 1920x1200 screen. They used to make them 4 years ago, but not anymore.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're right about the screen!

        "Now that would be beautiful. Just beautiful. I'd splash out right now if someone could make a 15" laptop with a 1920x1200 screen. They used to make them 4 years ago, but not anymore."

        Lenovo Yoga Pro 2. 13.3" QHD+ LED Glossy Multi-touch 3200x1800

        It's really sweet. I mean, it completely blows the Tosh out of the water. Now, if Lenovo would just keep that pixel density and increase the screen size to 15.6", that would be awesome.

        1. Piro

          Re: You're right about the screen!

          The aspect ratio is wrong. I think that's what the poster was referring to with the 1920x1200 worship.

        2. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: You're right about the screen!

          It's a nice, high res, but has two drawbacks. Firstly, it's still 16:9, so an aspect ratio that is geared towards watching movies rather than producing work on. Secondly, it's a glossy screen and I HATE shiny reflections when I'm trying to get some work done.

          Back in about 2007 at a previous job, I was fortunate enough to have access to a Dell Latitude D820 which had a 15.4" matte 1920x1200 screen. The clarity was excellent (and not too small that Windows looked bad - due to its poor DPI scaling) and programming on this machine was beautiful. Last I heard, it was still in use as there's simply nothing out there replacement-wise today that can match it screen wise.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meh

    I have to agree, 1366xx768 with a terrible viewing angle, non IPS does not in any way equate to 'ultra; in real world 2014 (other than marketing terms)

  12. jason 7

    Does the Reg.....

    give comments feedback to the manufacturers? Do they ever ask for it?

    Cos it seems to me certain people are not getting the message.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does the Reg.....

      manufacturers, broadly speaking, don't give a flying monkey's about users' comments. I very much doubt they even bother to read them (this is based on my experience when sending a query, having poked around for hours on this or that manufacturer's website to find appropriate contact numbers). The response rate (even a bot response, i.e. dear sir, thank you & fuck off) is nil.

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  14. TRT Silver badge

    "a package of two Windows 8.1 Pro discs that will upgrade the OS"

    Spotted the deliberate error. ;-)

  15. batfastad

    1366 x 768

    1366x768 should have been shot and killed 8 years ago. Yet it's impossible to find anything else at the £400-£500 price point.

    In 2004 I bought an Asus Z71VP which had 1680x1050 and since then that is the minimum I expect.

    1. TheTick

      Re: 1366 x 768

      Same here, I bought an Acer Travelmate 8103WLMi for about £700 with Radeon graphics and a 1680x1050 resolution back in 2004ish.

      What the hell is going on nowadays?

      1. Piro

        Re: 1366 x 768

        There are some glimmers of hope in the aspect ratio race to the bottom, such as the Chromebook Pixel.

        But then you remember nobody else is doing anything like that.

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: 1366 x 768

        That's the most upsetting thing about it all... 1680x1050 8 years ago compared to what we have now.

        I know that many of today's displays are more power efficient and have better colour range, viewing angles and overall laptops are cheaper now, but even with this it's just pathetic that we've gone backwards so far given how things should improve in time. That's the most upsetting point when combined with the modern user interfaces being space inefficient.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1366 x 768

    While the upgradeable is a major plus. The choice of screen for the price tag makes this an awful device.

    The Dell XPS 15 Dev Edition, is £400 cheaper and comes with a 1080p screen.

  17. Vicdavery

    Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

    13.3 inch 1920x1080. i7 8Gb 256Gb SSD

    Choice of Linux or Windows from manufacturer

    Had one for over a year now. Brilliant laptop.

  18. djstardust Silver badge

    I have the Tosh Z830-10U ultrabook. It's pretty good in all ways apart from the screen. Probably the same 1366x768 unit and it's crap ..... really crap.

    If Sony can put 1920x1080 in the Vaio Pro, what's Toshiba's excuse, especially at that price.

  19. simon gardener

    The hinges - are they white plastics ?

    The hinges - are they white plastics? - the thing looks damn ugly

    Yes... I'm a sad, macbook pro using, apple worshipper but please , think of the children !

  20. Derek Thomas

    Lucky

    My XPS has had 3 motherboards in 2 years and a new track pad.

  21. Wang N Staines

    I just spoke to Toshiba support, they said that hi-res screen will add an extra 5kg to the weight.

    That's the reason why they charge extortionate price to keep the weight down.

  22. ecarlseen

    £1,300?!??

    Not sure what charge for them in Great Britain, but in the States for that kind of money you can buy a MacBook Pro for that kind of coin... with a Retina Display, 8GB, and 256GB of SSD...

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: £1,300?!??

      £1339 will get you the equivalent spec MacBook Air. £1249 will get you the MacBook Pro you are referring to.

  23. BWM

    Best true business laptop on the market

    I'm typing this from a Z30, having just retired my incredible Sony VPC Z1 after 3 years of excellent service. I *hate* carrying dongles. The Z30 is the only lightweight (1.2 kg / under 3 lb) laptop I could find that still has VGA for hooking up to corporate projectors and Ethernet for secure networks that don't allow wireless. I laugh every time I see bozos with Apple notebooks who can't hook up.

    The screen resolution made me hesitate as I was accustomed to the Sony's HD. But in actual use on the small 13" screen, I'm not noticing much difference. Plus, with the optional and surprisingly cheap dynadock, I hook up to two 24" monitors at my desk, with the laptop's panel as a third screen.

  24. MJA

    1366x768 isn't the end of the world.

    1366x768 isn't all that bad but I accept that is the very minimum. I've been using a Dell Latitude 6430u for a year or so now (the ultrabook that smells like cat urine if you remember the article a few months ago)... That is 1366x768. It's not the 'crispest' screen in the world but I don't know where people are coming from saying Office is unusable. I perform the usual daily tasks on it without any problems. I'd rather be using my 23" dual desktop setup but on the move 1366x768 is fine. Tech is moving so fast at the moment that people cling on desperately to numbers without seeing the product in person.

    I guess the issue arises because my Dell cost £700 but this Toshiba is £1000+. For that price they should be offering a higher quality panel. Just don't start thinking that 1366x768 is unusable.

    1. Piro

      Re: 1366x768 isn't the end of the world.

      Yeah. The point is a £1K laptop shouldn't be "fine". It should be bloody exceptional.

  25. jason 7

    When I can buy a half decent 22" 1080p ersatz IPS panel...

    ....for around £100 and that includes all the plastics, stand, power lead etc. I cant see how much extra a decent 13" panel would add to a £1300 laptop.

    There are even decent quality TN panels around that cant cost much more than the standard crap they fit.

    Could the Reg maybe do an investigation with the manufacturers as to why they always skimp on laptop screens? Some interviews with their product heads?

    Let them put their case forward for their lack of effort.

  26. Jim 59

    Ultrabooks

    As a travelling business man I love my ultrabook. I can curl up in the hotel and watch a DV... oh can't do that actually. Well gigabit network is invaluable for backups, and - oops don't have that either, well 100 fast ethenet is still pretty usefu... oh no network port at all. Still, it impresses the boss when I hook up to the overhead projec... ah no VGA, well can't expect too much for a grand. Never mind, once I get home it is great not playing games becuase the on-board intel graphics can't handle it, while being unable to connect to my twin external monitors, which...

    1. jason 7

      Re: Ultrabooks

      Yes, whilst amazingly any £400 bargain bin laptop will do all the things the 'Intel approved' £1000 toy can't.

      Priorities..twisted...much?

      'High-end' IT kit is all about pose value rather than real value. For the 'Exec who doesn't have to try ...too hard..'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ultrabooks

      I've had an Asus 13" ultrabook for couple of years. And I am a travelling businessman.

      DVDs... seriously? It's 2014. I suppose you carry your music collection around with you on CD too? Bad too for anyone who's still on vinyl as it also lacks a turntable.

      My ASUS came with two small dongles, one to plug ethernet in and another to plug VGA into the HDMI port. But let's face it, hotels, coffee shops and airports all have wireless, so who really needs to plug in these days? I imagine like most business people, the majority of what I do online is email and web browsing. What docs I am working on are backed up to Dropbox, so a few MBPS internet connection is just fine for that.

      I don't play games on the thing to be honest, so maybe it's not great on that front.

      But it is light, thin, sturdy (metal chassis), fast (decent CPU and SSD).

      My only criticism would be that like most laptops, the battery has had it after about a year, but since I typically use it plugged in most of the time, I can live with it.

  27. Jodo Kast

    What a waste!

    If a computer can't run both Mac OSX and Windows 7, it seems like a very expensive paperweight.

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