Toshiba Satellite Z830 Ultrabook: Writing is on the wall for big laptops

When the first Ultrabooks arrived from ASUS and Acer they seemed to target the inspiration for Ultrabooks in the first place — the MacBook Air — with the same strong focus on style and the same wedge shape.

But Toshiba has taken a slightly different approach. Its Ultrabook the Z830 looks more like a razor-thin business notebook than a style leader. And we like it. At 1.2kg it’s the lightest 13.3in Ultrabook but if you ignore its slimness you can be tricked into thinking it’s a lot heavier than it actually is. When we first picked it up expecting something heavier we had to stop ourselves from accidentally flinging it across the desk.

What’s also different about the Z830 are the ports and slots. Unlike other Ultrabooks the Z830 does not skimp on them. It has the full array of ports you expect to find on a full-sized notebook. There are three USB ports (one a superfast USB 3.0) while other Ultrabooks have only two. Then there’s full HDMI and a VGA port a Gigabit Ethernet port an SD card slot and microphone and audio jacks and even a Kensington security slot! These full-size connections mean you don’t have to carry a bunch of adapters with you.

The combined performance from the Z830’s Intel Core i5-2467M (1.6-2.3GHz) CPU 4GB of RAM and its 128GB solid state drive was good enough in our intense use of a Z830 over a week not to be noticeable. That means it wasn’t blindingly fast but equally it didn’t produce any of the lag and tardiness we’ve come to expect from ultraportables.

The display which is about 3mm thick has been criticised. While the Z830’s magnesium/alloy chassis is rock solid the lid flexes more than usual when you try and bend it. But we didn’t have a problem with it and Toshiba representatives told us it’s designed that way so it can withstand a significant amount of punishment without breaking.

What’s great about this Ultrabook is that it feels like a traditional notebook that’s been miraculously slimmed down to almost tablet thickness. The array of ports and the performance are those of a big computer not of an ultra-thin.

In Australia the Z830 (Core i5 model reviewed here) has a RRP of $1399 selling in retail for between $1300 and $1400 while in the US it’s $1199.