Business-ready Ultrabooks aren’t exactly plentiful even now the standard has matured. In fact, as far as we’re aware only the Dell XPS 13, HP Folio 13 and of course Lenovo’s ThinkPad Ultrabooks even offer TPM.
However, when we looked at the Toshiba Satellite Z830, which is the virtually identical consumer version of the Portege Z830, we weren’t completely convinced – due mainly to the poor screen and average keyboard.
The new Z930 is Toshiba’s successor, and at a mere 1.09kg according to our scales, takes the title of lightest 13-inch laptop from the 1.15kg Samsung Series 9 900X3B. Despite that, it still packs goodies like generous connectivity; a backlit keyboard; up to a Core i7, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD; optional 3G; fingerprint scanner; and Windows 7 Professional – making it one of the most powerful, versatile Ultrabooks on the market.
Incidentally, it’s worth noting that the business-oriented Portege Z930 and the consumer Satellite Z930 are virtually identical, with only a few small touches such as the fingerprint scanner and TPM distinguishing them. As such, this can be taken as a Toshiba Satellite Z930 review too.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite having lost some weight and gained some new innards, the Toshiba Portege Z930 looks like the Toshiba Satellite Z830’s identical twin – and that’s not a particularly good thing. While we wouldn’t go so far as to call the Z930 ugly, along with its predecessor it’s certainly one of the less attractive Ultrabooks we’ve seen. It could really have done with an injection of the Toshiba Satellite U840W’s more consumer-oriented styling.
Still, all thoughts of how it looks tend to go out the window once you’ve held this laptop; it really is that light. Toshiba’s achievement here is incredibly impressive, but there’s also a downside. As before, to keep weight down the Portege Z930’s entire chassis is constructed using magnesium alloy, which leaves it feeling deceptively flimsy in the hand. In fact, people often confuse magnesium panels for cheap plastic.
Like its looks, connectivity on the Toshiba Portege Z930 is identical to the Z830, which again is both good and bad. It’s good because this means it’s superior to that of most Ultrabooks, thanks to a rare Gigabit Ethernet port, plus full-size HDMI and VGA, the latter still having potential on a business machine.
It’s bad because most of these ports are located around the rear. The left houses headphone and microphone inputs along with the SDXC card slot, the right gives you a single USB 3.0 port, with twin USB 2.0 ports, the aforementioned video connections and Ethernet taking the rear. This means you will need to be careful when lifting the laptop while a memory stick is plugged in the back, but at least – unlike the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581TG – this Ultrabook offers at least one side USB port.
Toshiba seems to make a habit of average keyboards on its ultraportables. Yet again the Portege Z930’s backlit chiclet affair found here is identical to that of its predecessor, meaning feedback is shallow and lacking positive confirmation. Though it's certainly usable, it joins the Z830 as being one of our least favourite Ultrabooks for typing, which is a real pity.
The small touchpad is different to the Ultrabook norm, not only because of its size but because it sports physical buttons. However, the pad is responsive while its buttons are nice and crisp. A fingerprint scanner for those who hate remembering passwords is nestled between them, which might make you miss the occasional right-click but is still a welcome feature.