Toshiba Satellite Z930 £799
17th Aug 2012 | 10:29
An Ultrabook upgrade suited to any travelling professional
Toshiba's flagship Ultrabook range is the latest recipient of the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors. The result is the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X. Although the computer keeps the same chassis as the original Toshiba Z830, the internal components have been given a serious shot in the arm. But is the boost enough to keep Toshiba competitive in the evolving and expanding Ultrabook market?
The Ultrabook as a format is flush into its second wave of machines by now, and rivals such as the HP Envy 6 and Acer Aspire Timeline U M5 are offering new designs and different takes on what manufacturers can cram inside a 20mm chassis.
With that in mind, is it enough for Toshiba to simply upgrade the processors and push the new machine out the door?
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Partly yes, because Toshiba's Satellite Ultrabook design is exactly what you'd buy an Ultrabook for - and if it ain't broke, there's very little reason to fix it.
The Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X is pleasingly light at 1.1kg, boasts a matt screen for office working, has plenty of connections and an affordable price tag of £799 (around $1,255).
It's not the perfect computer, but if you haven't taken the plunge and bought an Ultrabook yet, it's worth a look.
Toshiba's Satellite Z930-10X is built around an Intel Core i5-3317U CPUand runs at a clock speed of 1.7GHz, or 2.6GHz if cranked up to its Turbo setting. When we ran this Ultrabook through our benchmarking software, the results were impressive and a long way from the efforts of the first Toshiba Ultrabook.
RAM - just as important as the processor - has been given a boost to 6GB, and comes into play when you want to multitask between programs.
Unfortunately, graphics are somewhat lacking by comparison. All you'll find is the integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU that comes as part of the Ivy Bridge upgrade. Toshiba has positioned its Ultrabooks as more work-focused PCs than entertainment super-centres, and as such, the lack of a discrete graphics card isn't surprising.
The Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X could have done with a boost to the audio specifications as well.
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HP has packed Beats Audio into its Envy 6 Ultrabook, Acer uses Dolby Home Theatre in the Aspire Timeline U M5 and Asus has featured Bang & Olufsen speakers on its Zenbook range, including theAsus Zenbook UX32A.
Toshiba has left the Satellite Z930-10X with Realtek audio, and the result doesn't sound as good as we've come to expect from top-tier Ultrabooks.
We praised the original Toshiba Satellite Z830 for its usability, especially relating to the ports and connections on offer. That remains the same here. Not only are you given HDMI and VGA ports for connecting to an external display or projector, there's also an Ethernet port for a wired connection to the internet.
Toshiba has also included three USB ports, one of which is the faster USB 3.0 format, and space for an SD card expansion.
Considering all that the Toshiba Satellite Z930 offers in terms of storage is a 128GB SSD, it's likely you'll want to invest in either some SD cards or an external hard drive. However, the SSD does mean the boot-up time from sleep (one of the staples of Ultrabook performance) is very quick, at under a couple of seconds.
Reaffirming the workmanlike mentality of this Ultrabook is the screen. The 1366 x 768 pixel resolution won't run to 1080p high definition, but will enable you to watch 720p content.
The 13.3-inch screen is a matt display, so no glossy coating. Although a glossy screen often adds depth to dark colours and improves video, it often throws off distracting reflections, too. The matt screen on the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X is much more suited to working in offices and other brightly lit environments.
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The key things we look for when it comes to the performance of any Ultrabook are portability and speed. The Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X measures only 20mm thick and is light as a feather, at 1.1kg.
The chassis is identical to the earlier Toshiba Z830 and has the same gunmetal grey colouring. It doesn't turn heads in the same way as the Asus Zenbook UX32A or the Apple Macbook Air, but you won't have any trouble carrying it around the city all day.
The new third generation Intel processors are specially designed to consume less voltage and improve battery life. The Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X lasted 210 minutes before submitting to the rigours of our looped HD footage and battery testing software, which isn't a bad result.
The closest rival to this machine, the Asus Zenbook UX32A, posted a score of 208 minutes after the exact same test.
One particularly useful feature of this Ultrabook is the sleep and charge function. This means you can juice up a smartphone, tablet or similar device from one of the USB ports on the Toshiba Satellite Z930, even when it's on standby mode.
As we mentioned, Toshiba is keen to position this as a work-friendly PC. Yet the keyboard and trackpad are by no means the best we've seen on an Ultrabook.
The keyboard is an isolation-style affair, with black keys that offset nicely with the grey chassis. As expected given the slimness of this machine, the travel on the keys is tiny. If you type hard then you'll immediately notice this, and be forced to soften the blows somewhat.
Similarly, the multi-touch trackpad is on the smallish side, with slightly stiff buttons.
We've seen rival Ultrabooks - such as the HP Envy 4 - offer sizable trackpads that work better with the multi-touch gesturing. Of course, if you're using this laptop every day then you'll swiftly overcome these minor limitations and feel right at home with the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X.
Although Toshiba has pre-installed a wide range of software onto the Satellite Z930-10X, you won't find performance unduly hampered. On the first boot-up there will be notification boxes from the likes of McAfee to fight through, but for the most part the bloatware stays out of your way.
Some of it, such as the Bluetooth Assistant or Battery Manager, is quite helpful, while other offerings - such as the WildTangent Games app - we doubt you'll ever use.
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The Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X manages to offer an excellent balance between power and affordability. It's a very accomplished Ultrabook - thin, light and powerful enough to handle a wide range of tasks simultaneously. The star of the show is undoubtedly the Ivy Bridge processor, which helps to keep the performance in line with other Ultrabooks available on the market.
Toshiba hasn't really attempted anything different here, and erring on the side of caution is probably the best approach. The Satellite Z930-10X is well-built, and although we were, at first, put off by aspects of the usability, it quickly became an excellent laptop for working on the move.
As a work computer, the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X benefits from the range of connections on offer. You have an Ethernet port for when 802.11n Wi-Fi isn't available, and the HDMI connection means you can attach an external monitor for more screen real estate. Similarly, the three USB ports also enable you to attach peripherals and accessories to boost the spec of this machine.
Toshiba hasn't changed the outward design of the chassis, but it remains perfectly functional when it comes to portability. At 20mm thick and weighing only 1.1kg, you can easily carry the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X from home to the office every day without any trouble.
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When it comes to multimedia, this Ultrabook isn't as accomplished as some of the others we've reviewed recently. The screen is bright enough, but the lack of an HD+ resolution is noticeable when compared to other machines, and audio quality could be improved, too.
We were positive about Toshiba's first Ultrabook, and the Satellite Z930 is another shining example of how to maximise connectivity, design and value for money performance.
If you want an Ultrabook exclusively for entertainment then we'd recommend looking elsewhere, but as a mobile workstation, the Toshiba Satellite Z930-10X stands as an excellent purchase.