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Toshiba Portege Z830 ultrabook

The Toshiba Portege Z830 is extremely slim and light, and we're delighted to see Toshiba's crammed in an ample port selection.

The tech world is on the cusp of thin-and-light mania, and Toshiba is doing its bit to push things over the edge with the Portege Z830, a remarkably slim 13.3-inch laptop that's part of a growing family of what Intel calls ultrabooks -- PCs designed to be lightweight, powerful and cheap all at the same time.

The Z830 has been officially unveiled at the IFA tech show in Berlin, so read on for everything you need to know.

Design and build

The Toshiba Z830 might have a name that's nigh-on impossible to remember, but the design will stick in your mind. Squarish, with a flat, blocky build, there's a brushed metal effect over the wrist rest and the keyboard is of the isolated variety, so there's a healthy gap left between each individual key.

We didn't get a chance to test the keyboard, because the Z830 was helpfully being kept behind glass when we took our photos, but normally those gaps help cut down on accidental mis-typings, so fingers crossed you don't end up with your fingers crossed.

The Z830's lid is extremely thin, and when you fold it down the laptop as a whole is super slim, measuring just 16mm deep. We'd wager that's waferish enough to fit inside even the tightest of trendy rucksacks, and the Z830 is exceptionally light too, weighing just 1.11kg -- that's lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which tips the scales at 1.35kg.

The MacBook Air does feel very sturdy though, so we're hoping Toshiba hasn't let the Z830 become flimsy in order to keep the weight down.

The screen has a matte coating, so you won't be hounded by annoying reflections as you would be on other laptops.

Port selection

Normally on laptops that have to be exceptionally thin and light, the first thing chucked out is the port selection. But brilliantly Toshiba has managed to keep things slender without ditching the connectivity.

Around the edges you'll locate three USB ports (one of which is of the faster USB 3.0 variety), HDMI and VGA outputs, audio sockets, a card reader and -- glory be -- an Ethernet port.

The presence of an Ethernet port means you won't be restricted to only using Wi-Fi connections to get online. That might not sound like a problem if your home Wi-Fi is reliable, but rest assured, the time will come when you'll desperately need the Internet but all you've got is an Ethernet cable, mocking you with its snakelike cable-face.

Hardware

Inside the Z830 is bristling with components to make your mouth water. Second-generation Intel Core i-series processors are in place with 6GB of RAM, and there's a 128GB solid-state drive too, which hopefully will spur the Z830 on to speedy start up times.

Ultrabook? What's that?

'Ultrabook' is a term coined by chip-maker Intel to refer to a new breed of laptop that offers portability, speed and lightweight design, without being too expensive. The movement has been spurred on by the popularity of Apple's MacBook Air, and PC manufacturers are keen to show they've got the chops to compete.

The only thing we're not clear on regarding this particular ultrabook is the price. Toshiba has said the Z830 will start at under $1,000, which equates to about £600 in British coin.

We desperately want the price to be kept really low, because otherwise we suspect buyers on the hunt for a super-portable laptop will still plump for the excellent MacBook Air. But £600 for a decently specced version of the Z830 would be sorely tempting.

We'd hazard the Z830 is looking better than the other ultrabook we've seen this week -- the Acer Aspire S3, which tears whole chapters from Apple's design manual and doesn't have the port selection Toshiba is offering.

Outlook

The Toshiba Portege Z830 looks set to deliver in the slim and light stakes, and we're over the moon that Toshiba's managed to cram in an ample port selection (probably a little more excited than anyone should be about Ethernet sockets, to be honest). The matter of pricing still hangs in the air though -- this laptop will need to be cheap to compete with the Air.

Edited by Nick Hide

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