Microsoft Surface Pro 3stars
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Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2013, 15-inch screen)stars
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Asus Transformer Book T100
If Intel has its way, there will come a day when we no longer use the word "ultrabook", and will just call everything laptops again.
Until then, the ultrabook portfolio has been fleshed out with a third member: Toshiba's Satellite Z830. It's immediately clear that Toshiba has leaned on its experience with its Portege R400 and R700 series of laptops; it's managed to jam in more connections than anyone else. While it still has a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, headphone jack, SD card reader and an HDMI port, it also manages to fit in an extra USB 2.0 port, dedicated microphone jack, gigabit Ethernet and VGA port. Rather than pretending to be an ultra-light computer without compromise, the Z830 actually delivers. Toshiba puts a lot of this on the back of its laptop, something that we usually chastise — however, having at least one of the USB ports on the side helps to keep day-to-day usability intact.
There's a backlit keyboard here, too, something that's always appreciated, although the keyboard does feel a little mushy, and flexes slightly when typing. It also has quite a short throw, meaning that you'll need a period of adjustment. After this point, though, we found that it didn't impact on our typing speed or accuracy.
The 13.3-inch, 1366x768 screen has the hallmarks of a wide-gamut panel, with slightly exaggerated colours. It's still TN-based, and has poor vertical viewing angles as a result, but nowhere near as bad as.
Construction is acceptably solid for something this thin, although the unit has inherited the R series' far-too-flexible screen. While it may induce some fears as to its ruggedness, we've tossed the laptop around for a few weeks without care, and it's happily withstood our abuse.
Inside is a Core i7 2467M @ 1.6GHz, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Toshiba SSD. The SSD isn't as fast as Asus' offering, but will still dominate any mechanical drive.