Ultrabook city is booming, with every computer manufacturer arriving in town on the back of an Intel-powered cart, hoping to strike a rich vein of laptop gold.
Never one to be left out of a goldrush, Toshiba has thrown together the Z830 -- a slim and very light laptop with a more understated look that would suit the travelling
prospector professional. But will it offer enough to take the shine off the glittering gem that is ?
Our model came with an Intel Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM. It's available now for £1,000.
Design and build quality
The Z830 is instantly recognisable as part of the ultrabook gang due to its extremely svelte physique. At a mere 8.3mm at the front, it's certainly a very slim machine and at 17mm at the rear, it's one of the slimmest laptops available.
This tiny size means you can do away with carrying a bulky laptop bag around with you, as it will easily slide into the most slender of messenger-style bags, nestling comfortably against your notepads without causing any embarrassing bulges.
With a weight of only 1.1kg, it's very light too, undercutting the weight of the Asus UX31 by 200g and making the Z830 a light traveller's dream. The weight reduction has mostly been made in the chassis -- Toshiba has constructed the Z830 from magnesium, rather than the aluminium used on the UX31.
Sadly, that has resulted in the build quality of the Z830 seeming somewhat less than perfect. The lid is extremely thin, offering a frightening amount of flex -- something that isn't present at all in the aluminium UX31. There's flex in the keyboard tray too, making the whole machine feel much less sturdy than we'd like.
Toshiba has obviously settled on a trade-off between weight and build materials, and it's done an admirable job in reducing the weight, but we'd definitely like it to be firmed up in places.
The keyboard is made up of square, isolated keys that are spaced well across the chassis resulting in a comfortable typing experience. We were able to type for long periods without feeling the tell-tale aches we'd experience on less comfortable keyboards. If you're planning on bashing out some long documents for work, rest assured it won't be the keyboard that slows you down.
The trackpad is very responsive, which makes for a swift web-browsing experience, but it's pretty small -- considerably smaller than the clickable trackpads found on the UX31 or the. The two buttons are easy to click and if you really need more freedom in your scrolling, you can just hook up a USB mouse.
On the looks front, the Z830 doesn't have the same sleek, stylish appeal of the UX31 or the Air, but it's still pretty smart. It's perhaps more appropriate in a professional, business environment than its flashier ultrabook brethren.
Unlike the Zenbooks and the Air, the Z830 is only available with a 13.3-inch screen, so if you're after an 11-inch model to whisk away on your travels, you're out of luck. 11-inch machines are less of a necessity in the professional realm, as long documents and spreadsheets are easier to edit with a larger screen, so it's understandable Toshiba hasn't opted for a smaller size.
What's less forgivable though is the relatively poor resolution on offer. The Z830's 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels -- fairly standard for a laptop of this size, but both the UX31 and 13-inch MacBook Air offer 1,600x900-pixel screens. It's a shame Toshiba hasn't tried to keep in step with the competition.
Tosh has given it a matte coating though, which significantly reduces reflections, making it great for use under bright lights or direct sunlight. It does mean, however, that the screen lacks the punchy colours and depth of glossy displays, resulting in pictures that often look quite washed out. If you want to catch up on some Hannah Montana while you're away, the Z830 isn't going to do them much justice. Shame.