Friday 21 December 2012

Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 Review

Toshiba Portege Z935-P300

SCORE: 4/5

Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 : Cover

Very Light. Very thin. Good battery life. Speedy SSD. Full sized HDMI, Ethernet, and VGA. Good benchmark performance.


Chrome mouse buttons attract fingerprints. Could use another USB 3.0 port.
The Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 is an ultrabook that makes very few concessions in the name of lightweight and thin construction. It's a powerful system with a very good battery life, and it's our new Editors' Choice for mainstream ultrabook laptops.

The Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 is an ultrabook that makes very few concessions in the name of light weight and thin construction. On our benchmark test, it was powerful enough to hold its own against a much more expensive, high-end ultrabook. With an almost eight-hour battery life, ultimate portability, comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and solid construction, the Portege Z935-P300 is our new Editors' Choice award winner for mainstream ultrabooks .
Toshiba Portege Z935

Design and Features
The Portege Z935-P300 is thin, really thin. At 0.63 inches (16mm) at its thickest point, it is thinner than the 18mm spec for 13-inch ultrabooks. It measures about 0.63 by 12.5 by 9 inches (HWD), matching or slightly edging the measurements of the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2012) ($1199 list, 4.0 Stars)$1,099.95 at B&H Photo-Video , the spiritual progenitor of the ultrabook category. At 2.36 pounds and 2.93 pounds with the AC adapter, it's also on the light side. The Z935-P300's magnesium alloy chassis is colored dark silver, with a large chromed Toshiba logo on the lid. The system's chromed mouse buttons are nice, but the buttons and their chromed surroundings attract fingerprints.

The Z935's touchpad is responsive, and includes a physical on/off switch between the touchpad and the keyboard. This is handy for people who sometimes find that their palm moves the cursor around during typing sessions. The touchpad comes set to scroll with a single finger on the right and bottom edges of the touchpad (old-school style), but you can go into the touchpad's control panel to set the touchpad to respond to more modern two- and three-finger swipes. This will no doubt become a plus if or when you upgrade the system to Windows 8 in the future. The physical mouse buttons are convenient for the business user who hasn't yet warmed to using a single-piece touchpad. The backlit chiclet keyboard is easy to type on, and the keys have a good grippy feel.

The system has a 13.3-inch widescreen display with a 1,366 by 768 resolution. While this falls short of the 1,920-by-1,080 resolution required for 1080p HD video, 1,366 by 768 is common for most 13-inch ultrabooks and ultraportable laptops in this price range. For example, the HP Folio 13-1020us ($899.99 list, 4 stars) comes with a 1,366-by-768-resolution screen, but the more expensive high-end ultrabook Editors' Choice Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD-DB71 ($1,299 list, 4.0)$1,098.95 at Journey Ed has a 1,920 by 1,080 resolution screen in a 13.3-inch panel. Understandably, the Aus UX32VD is a lot more expensive due to its higher res screen and other features like a Core i7 processor.

The Z935-P300 comes with a very good selection of external I/O ports. It has two USB 2.0 ports on the back, a full-sized Ethernet port, full size HMDI port, VGA, SD car slot, and a USB 3.0 port on the side. It could use another USB 3.0 port (or better yet convert all three USB ports to 3.0), but the whole package is quite usable. The full-size Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI ports are useful for the road warrior, giving them the best chance for connecting to projectors and wired networks in offices and hotels.

The Portege Z935-P300 includes a mid-level Intel Core i5-3317U processor, four GB of system memory, a 128GB SSD, and Intel HD Graphics 4000. These are very good stats, and as we'll see below, help the Z935 gain good performance numbers. Like the memory, the system's SSD and battery are not user-serviceable. The system comes with a desktop screen free of extra icons save one: the system booted up with a Best Buy app, which is a portal to Best Buy's online software store. There's also an icon for Toshiba's Book Place store in the Windows Task bar. This is a far cry from systems in the part, which had up to a dozen icons strewn across the screen. The system comes with a one-year standard warranty. The screen itself is bright and easy to read, particularly on normal power settings. Like a hybrid vehicle, the Z935-P300 has an eco button in the taskbar, which brings up the Toshiba eco utility. Once in eco mode, the screen dims, the sleep schedules are adjusted, and the system draws less power from the battery. We didn't test in eco mode because of the sleep settings, but it has the potential to increase battery life over the tested seven hours, thirty-four minutes.
Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 : Left

The system's third-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Intel graphics, SSD, and 4GB of memory help it achieve an excellent 5,477 point score on 
Futuremark PCMark 7, Futuremark's benchmark test that measures day-to-day performance. In contrast, the mostly hard-drive-powered Asus UX32VD was slower at day-to-day tasks, with a score of 2,523 points. The AMD-poweredHP Envy Sleekbook 6-1010us ($700 list, 2.0 stars)$529.99 at HP Direct was worse still, with a 1,361-point score. The Asus UX32VD did better on the multimedia tests, scoring a a short 1 minute, 43 seconds on our Handbrake video test and 3:58 time on the Adobe Photoshop CS5 test. The Z935-P300 was close behind (1:58 Handbrake; 4:31 CS5), while the HP Folio 13-1020us lagging (2:29 Handbrake, 5:24 CS5) due to its older second-generation Core i5 processor.

The systems reversed places on the battery tests. The HP 13-1020us led by lasting 8 hours 47 minutes on MobileMark 2007. The Z935-P300 was about an hour behind that (7:34), with the Asus UX32VD at 5:26. The Z935-P300 has a slimmer internal battery and therefore less weight, but it's a decent tradeoff in this case.

The Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 approaches the ideal for ultrabooks. It's very thin, very light, has decent performance, and has very good battery life. While other 13-inch ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-R5102F come with a higher-resolution screen, less critical users willing to trade a higher res screen for some real savings won't mind. The Z935-P300 also has better battery life than the Asus UX31A-R5102F. The HP Folio 13-1020us has better battery life still, but the components in the newer crop of ultrabooks like the Z935-P300 has surpassed the HP 13-1020us' now dated hardware. Power, low weight, comfortable interfaces, battery life, and a whole slew of user-friendly features means that the Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 is our new Editors' Choice for 
mainstream utlrabooks.

Battery life

The Portege Z935-P300 lasted for just more than 5 hours of running our video playback battery drain test. Both the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A and Samsung Series 9 were able to keep going past the 6-hour mark, but they're more expensive and the Toshiba essentially matches them or beats them in performance.

Running video really taxes the battery, too, so if you're just doing more basic tasks you can expect to get more than 5 hours of uptime with some power management. Also, if you like having the ability to swap batteries, the Z935-P300 does not have an easily replaceable battery pack.

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