Ultrabook specifications are usually quite predictable, but the Satellite Z830 offers a little more flexibility than most in giving you more than one configuration to choose from. It’s available with either a Core i3 and 4GB of RAM for around £800, or as per our review sample (model number Z830-10U) with a Core i5 and 6GB of RAM for £900. Both versions come with a 128GB SSD.
Our Z830-10U nipped along thanks to its dual-core Core i5-2467M, which runs at 1.4GHz but can Turbo Clock up to 2.3GHz. For heavy multi-taskers as well as casual video editors, the extra memory will also be a boon. However, if light productivity is all you’re after, the Core i3/4GB version should do you just fine. Speaking of loads, while it’s generally very quiet, the Z830-10U does produce an audible cooling-fan whir when under load.
Graphics are the weakest point of any Ultrabook, since Intel’s HD 3000 integrated effort is hardly anything to write home about. However, in undemanding or casual games it should give you a smooth experience at low settings, as demonstrated by our test of TrackMania Nations Forever (where the Z830 achieved a 41.4fps average at medium detail and 1,280 x 720 resolution).
Battery life was quite strong on the Satellite R830, and thankfully the Z830 follows in its footsteps. In fact, it easily provides the most time away from a socket that we’ve yet seen from an Ultrabook, managing seven hours and 20 minutes (at 40 percent screen brightness and with wireless radios disabled) while the best of its rivals fell short of six hours. In other words, if long battery life is a priority for you, this Toshiba Satellite is the Ultrabook to get.
Finally we come to value, where the Satellite Z830 also holds up well. With its price dipping under £800 for the Core i3/4GB version, it’s the next cheapest 13in Ultrabook after the £680 Acer Aspire S3. Yes, that means the Core i3 S3 is £120 cheaper, but you get a 320GB hybrid hard drive instead of a pure 128GB SSD, far less connectivity, no USB 3.0, no backlighting for the keyboard and shorter battery life. However the Aspire S3 does have better usability and a more stylish design.
The Core i5/6GB model of the Z830 also goes for £100 less than our current favourite Ultrabook, the £999 Asus Zenbook UX31, and gives you more memory along with a backlit keyboard. The UX31, in turn, justifies the extra £100 with its 1,600 x 900 screen resolution, Core i7 CPU and slick design.
So far then, it’s impossible to call a plain victor in the Ultrabook wars, and which model you get will depend on your preferences, needs and budget. In the meantime, we can’t wait for hopefuls like the Lenovo Yoga to properly dethrone the MacBook Air and Samsung Series 9.
With the Z830, Toshiba has created one of the lightest and most affordable Ultrabooks on the market, yet it’s packed with connectivity, sports a matt screen, and offers premium touches like a backlit keyboard. Unfortunately, its staid design limits its visual appeal compared to rivals, its keyboard doesn’t provide the best typing experience, and poor viewing angles let the 13.3in screen down badly. Like most Ultrabooks we’ve seen, it comes close, but no cigar.