Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U £999
19th Dec 2011 | 14:57
An excellent ultraportable, but not the best you can buy
If you wanted a stylishly light and powerful Toshiba laptop, you would immediately look to the Japanese company's Portege R830. That is, until you came across the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U, priced at £999 in the UK (the US price isn't yet available).
These super light and thin laptops are already among us, and are aiming to take some of the limelight away from the Apple MacBook Air. Helped by chip manufacturer Intel, which laid out very specific price and performance requirements for manufacturers, the Ultrabook is set to become a common sight in 2012.
At its thickest point, the Satellite Z830-10U measures only 16mm across, but Toshiba has still packed in Sandy Bridge power and given us one of the best trackpads we've yet seen on an ultrabook. It's not without niggles, however, and we found parts of the chassis to be inferior to stronger machines such as the Asus Zenbook and the MacBook Air.
The 13.3-inch Satellite Z830-10U is truly an ultrabook for the road. Giving us not only the lightest chassis we've yet seen, but also an excellent battery life, this could be the answer for frequent travellers who need a long-lasting machine full of performance for under £1,000.
Although this has the same 128GB solid state drive (SSD) that we've seen elsewhere, it offers better connectivity than other ultrabooks currently on the market. In what could quickly become its main selling point, the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U gives you three USB ports, of which one is USB 3.0, and an Ethernet connection - the only ultrabook to do so.
We enjoyed our time with the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U and looked past a couple of irritating points to find that it is certainly one of the ultrabooks you should be considering.
It sits alongside cheaper brother the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10T, which costs £899 in the UK or $849 in the US, while Toshiba's Portégé Z830 offers another ultrabook choice.
While the outward appearance of the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U might not stray far from the ultrabook mould, that's no bad thing. Ultrabooks look sexy, and you can tell one just by looking at it.
At 16mm wide, it's only slightly thicker than the Acer Aspire S3 and the Asus Zenbook, but it weighs a light and airy 1.1kg. Toshiba has opted for a muted silver brushed aluminium finish and a solid black isolation-style keyboard.
Unfortunately, the chassis isn't anywhere near as firm as the Asus Zenbook UX31 or the Lenovo Ideapad U400, and we found there was some pretty obvious flex on the screen and around the keyboard. While this adversely affects the build quality in our opinion, it's difficult to fault the machine's build too much when it weighs so much less than the other ultrabooks.
Toshiba has shunned any kind of reflective coating for the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U's 13.3-inch screen. The trade-off is a slight lack of richness when watching a movie or looking at pictures. It's not a major cause for concern, though, as the 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is still detailed enough to play 720p high definition movies.
The keyboard fares much better, however, and feels both strong and spacious. It was also reassuring to find function and arrow keys that haven't been squashed into the corners of the chassis. But special mention must go to the touchpad, which has a slightly tougher texture than the rest of the chassis and is extremely responsive. You also have two solid click buttons beneath that are firm and expertly weighted.
Where the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U can also lay some serious kudos down is on the speaker side. Twin vents at the front of the laptop give stereo sound, backed up with a subwoofer underneath the chassis. This produces a rounded sound which is bolstered by the impressive volume you can get from this laptop if you push the dial up.
One of the big selling points of the Asus Zenbook was the integrated speakers, and we feel the Toshiba is certainly able to keep up here.
Connectivity on the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U is a real highlight, and Toshiba has included several ports on the back of the laptop - a distribution choice that has fallen out of favour recently. This gives you three USB ports, one of which is the newer USB 3.0 connection.
If you want to extend the display, you can use the VGA or HDMI ports to hook the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U up to an HD TV or external monitor.
3D Mark '06: 3,988
Batter Eater: 205 minutes
The Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U is the more advanced ultrabook of the two Satellite Z830s that Toshiba has produced, boasting an Intel Core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD hard drive.
The second model, the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10T, manages a Core i3 CPU and 4GB of RAM with the same 128GB SSD, but is £100 cheaper, at £899. The difference is negligible, but opting for the 10U will afford you that extra level of future-proofing, especially given the silhouette of Intel's next generation Ivy Bridge processors beginning to form on the horizon.
Performance shows here, and the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U can proudly take its place in the ultrabook ranks. We timed starting up from sleep mode to Windows at seven seconds, and from total shutdown at 25 seconds, which is well within Intel's specifications for ultrabook status.
The extra RAM keeps the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system on its toes, and multiple applications running at once.
Although the Sandy Bridge CPU has a built-in graphics rendering chip - the Intel HD 3000 - it's not quite up to Battlefield 3 levels of visual mastery. You'll be able to use the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U for some light gaming or working on Photoshop or Dreamweaver, but the most recent games and editing suites will struggle.
However, one sour point of using the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U is Toshiba's insistence on including bloatware from the get-go. A couple of antivirus samples, some music and games programs, Toshiba warranty registration and BBC iPlayer, Skype and Ebay apps all contribute to a cluttered start-up that users can easily do without.
Of course, part of the appeal of the ultrabook is the portability, and this wouldn't be the case without an impressive battery life. Thankfully the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U will keep you going through an entire day at the office.
Toshiba quotes an eight hour battery life, and our own extreme stress tests, involving a battery draining program and looped high definition video, gave us a respectable score of 205 minutes. We're pretty confident that the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U would be able to survive a full day of real-world usage on just the battery.
The Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U doesn't come in cheap, at £999, but there are several features this ultrabook provides that better what's on offer elsewhere.
Unfortunately, though, the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U appears to be somewhat bi-polar. It has some truly excellent points, but at the same time a couple of minor flaws can't help but get on our nerves.
If you bought the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U, or even the slightly lower spec Z830-10T, we don't think you'd be disappointed. All that you need from an ultra-portable laptop can be found here.
The portability of this laptop is beyond question. With a feather-light weight of 1.1kg, we could carry this ultrabook around in our bag all day and forget we had it at all.
The excellent keyboard is not only back-lit, it's also supported by a touchpad that is responsive and nicely textured. We were also happy to see two distinct click buttons rather than having them built into the touchpad like other ultrabooks.
Connectivity is undoubtedly the highlight, though, since this is the only ultrabook that offers three USB ports and an Ethernet connection. If you're likely to be plugging in a lot of peripherals or using a LAN connection, this is the machine you'll want.
We were a bit worried about the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U's screen, which is undeniably flimsy. You can effectively bend the screen with your hands, although we wouldn't recommend it.
The amount of software that comes pre-installed on the Satellite Z830-10U is both annoying and intrusive. Expect to sift through plenty of pop-up messages on starting up before you can get through to the programs and disable them
When compared to the sleekness of the Apple MacBook Air or Asus Zenbook UX31, the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U does come across as a little boxy. We loved how light it was, but is it too much to ask for a few curves?
The Satellite Pro Z830-10U is one of the best ultrabooks we've yet seen, and certain features, such as connectivity and touchpad usability, outshine all its rivals. However, there are still niggling issues such as build quality and excessive bloatware that mar the whole experience.
This is certainly a great piece of kit from Toshiba, but it feels like an extra step onwards from the Portege rather than the completely different computing experience the Asus Zenbook provides. Extra pressure from evolving tablets such as the Asus Transformer Prime also gives us something to consider.
We would rank the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U as a great purchase, and higher than ultrabook competitors such as the Acer Aspire S3 and Lenovo Ideapad U400. But, ultimately, the ultrabook crown still belongs to the Asus Zenbook UX31.