Toshiba Portege Z835 Review

Toshiba’s Z835 does not make a good first impression. It’s as thin as a piece of cardboard, and feels just slightly stronger. These snap judgments about the laptop’s strength are only worsened by a sub-par keyboard and a display that isn’t sharp or beautiful.
Toshiba’s Z835 does not make a good first impression. It’s as thin as a piece of cardboard, and feels just slightly stronger. These snap judgments about the laptop’s strength are only worsened by a sub-par keyboard and a display that isn’t sharp or beautiful.
Toshiba’s Z835 does not make a good first impression. It’s as thin as a piece of cardboard, and feels just slightly stronger. These snap judgments about the laptop’s strength are only worsened by a sub-par keyboard and a display that isn’t sharp or beautiful.

Highs

  • Incredibly thin and light
  • Great connectivity
  • Excellent performance
  • Useful bundled software

Lows

  • Drab design
  • Flimsy chassis
  • Terrible keyboard
  • Disappointing display and audio quality
  • Runs loud and warm
  • Expensive as-tested

DT Editors' Rating

Home > Product Reviews > Laptop Reviews > Toshiba Portege Z835 Review

Cooling

At idle our review unit had something that most Ultrabooks don’t — fan noise. Not much, mind you, but there was a definite whirr that could be detected even when the laptop was several feet away.

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Perhaps it is necessary, because temperatures at idle were high, reaching 92.7 degrees at the rear. That’s high enough to make laptop use uncomfortable.

Stress testing the processor kicked the fan into crisis mode, making it loud enough to be an annoyance. Temperatures at the rear of the laptop shot up to 106.4 degrees, which is beyond what the average user will find tolerable. Even the keyboard was toasty. Using this laptop while running a processor-intensive program will give you a serious case of sweaty palms.

Portability

The Z835 isn’t just thin. It’s also light. At 2.5 pounds the Z835 is no heavier than a netbook, and because the weight is spread over a larger surface, it feels lighter in-hand. Sliding this laptop in and out of any bag is easy. You may not even want to bring a bag on short trips, as whatever you use to carry this laptop is likely to weigh as much as the laptop itself.

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Toshiba didn’t have much room for a battery in this laptop. Despite that it still manages to deliver average endurance. Battery Eater’s Standard test returned exactly two hours of life, while the Reader’s Test extended that to six hours and twenty minutes. This is better than the Acer Aspire S3 and just a bit behind the Asus UX31. HP’s Folio 13, however, lasts almost two hours longer.

Software

Our review unit came packed to the gills with bundled software. Some of it was in support of hardware features, such as the fingerprint reader. Other programs, such as a Wi-Fi widget that shows nearby hotspots while you’re at the Windows login screen, are meant to provide extra utility.

Many of the software utilities do their job, but integration with Windows is a problem. For example, Toshiba’s ECO Mode power setting does a great job of maximizing battery, but if you change even one setting controlled by ECO Mode (like display brightness or the keyboard backlight) the software freaks out and starts spamming notifications that tell you ECO Mode is now off.

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Much of the pre-installed software does have a use. We like the login screen widget that shows nearby hotspots, we like the PC health monitor and we like ECO Mode. We simply want to see the software packaged into a single interface, not only because it’d be easier to understand, but also because it’d cut down on the number of programs running in the background and spamming users with notifications.

Performance

The Core i7-2677M low-voltage processor in our Z835 review unit is the fastest of its kind we’ve yet tested, beating the clock speed of the Asus UX31 we reviewed by 100MHz. The 6GB of RAM is unusually robust, as well. Most Ultrabooks only ship with 4GB. Such advantages should make the Z835 surprisingly quick. Let’s see if it lives up to expectations.

SiSoft Sandra’s Processor Arithmetic bench starts our testing on a positive note by returning a combined score of 35.3 GOPS. This is higher than any Ultrabook we’ve reviewed and just a couple points shy of laptops packing mainstream Core i5 processors. Our other processor test, 7-Zip, provided an equally complimentary score of 7,543 MIPS. This is actually higher than some standard Core i5 laptops. The HP Elitebook 2560p, for example, scored 7,304.

toshiba-portege-z835-review-side-lid-upPCMark 7, which favors solid-state drives, gave the Z835 a score of 3,274. That’s lower than the Asus UX31, which scored 3,382. The reason for the lower score — in spite of more RAM and a faster processor — is the hard drive. It scored about 300 points lower in the System Storage portion of the benchmark.

As with other Ultrabooks, gaming on the Z835 is unlikely to bring you much joy. DirectX 11 isn’t supported by Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics, which means that we can’t run 3DMark 11. Instead we must rely on 3DMark 06’s score of 3,771. That’s not great, and it indicates a laptop that will have trouble playing 3D games released in the last few years.

Processor performance is an obvious strength of our review unit, but only because it came equipped with a high-end processor. Overall, the performance of the Z835 is like that of any other Ultrabook – fast, but not as quick as a laptop with a standard Core i5 processor.

Conclusion

Toshiba’s Z835 does not make a good first impression. It’s as thin as a piece of cardboard, and feels just slightly stronger. These snap judgments about the laptop’s strength are only worsened by a sub-par keyboard and a display that isn’t sharp or beautiful.

After a couple of days, the strengths of this laptop become apparent. It’s portable enough to take nearly anywhere and it’s relatively powerful, as well. Even the bundled software is a net positive, adding some features that are useful, if a bit difficult to understand.

And then we remember the price tag. Our review unit isn’t representative of the entry-level $829 version. It’s a decked out model built for business, and frankly, it doesn’t stand a chance against similarly priced competition. The $1,429 required to snag our review unit will buy you a Lenovo ThinkPad X1, an Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inchwith a display upgrade or a decked out HP Folio 13. These are all superior.

So what about that cheap base model? Well, the Acer Aspire S3 is just as inexpensive and offers better design and build quality. The main trade-off between them is that of the processor and the hard drive. Toshiba’s base Z835 only offers a Core i3-2367M processor but also includes a 128GB SSD, while the S3 has a Core i5-2467M processor and a 20GB SSD that’s combined with a 320GB mechanical drive.

We’d pick the Acer Aspire S3. Toshiba’s design is too weak to support the laptop even at $829. Let this be a warning to all laptop manufacturers: A thin profile looks cool, but you’d better figure out how to make up for its disadvantages.

Highs:

  • Incredibly thin and light
  • Great connectivity
  • Excellent performance
  • Useful bundled software

Lows:

  • Drab design
  • Flimsy chassis
  • Terrible keyboard
  • Disappointing display and audio quality
  • Runs loud and warm
  • Expensive as-tested

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