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Toshiba Satellite Z930 review: Toshiba Satellite Z930

An upgrade on last year's Z830, the Satellite Z930 is an excellent portable and flexible laptop.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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Take the Satellite Z830 and whack new bits in — that's Toshiba's Satellite Z930. The processor gets a bump to third generation Core, we get 6GB instead of 4GB RAM, otherwise, everything else is pretty much the same.

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8.0

Toshiba Satellite Z930

The Good

Slim and light, yet still fully featured. Backlit keyboard.

The Bad

Only one USB 3.0 port. 1366x768, highly glossy screen.

The Bottom Line

Just like the Z830, the Z930 is a great laptop for portability and flexibility. We'd love it if it had a better quality screen, like Samsung's Series 9, but for port complement it can't be beat.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 1
  • USB 2.0: 2
  • Optical: none
  • Video: HDMI, VGA
  • Ethernet: gigabit
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0

That means a 128GB SSD, 2.4GHz 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 remain for the internal specs. Toshiba's strength as an ultrabook, though, comes from its ports: full sized Ethernet and HDMI, a VGA port, separate headphone and microphone jacks, an SD card reader, a single USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports.

At AU$1299, this will suit most people, although, if you want a bit more, AU$1899 will get you a Core i7 3667U and 256GB SSD.

It's quite light and, despite the screen bending a bit when pressure is applied, quite resilient. In fact, the only real annoyance in the entire package is the screen itself — a 1366x768 affair that's glossier than a nail varnish convention.

The backlit keyboard is excellent, as is the Synaptics touchpad: this is definitely a laptop that the hardened road warrior would appreciate.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

  • 347
    Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 (Core i5 3210M, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  • 383
    Acer Aspire S7 (11.6-inch, Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 2x 128GB SSD RAID 0)
  • 386
    Dell XPS 12 (Core i7 3517U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  • 397
    Acer Aspire S7 (13.3-inch, Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 2x 64GB SSD RAID 0)
  • 418
    Toshiba Satellite Z930 (Core i5 3317U, 6GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
  • 484
    Asus Taichi (Core i5 3317U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


The Satellite did pick up a bit of fan whine when working hard, but nothing unreasonable. It otherwise performed about where it should, given the hardware involved.

Battery life

Battery life (time)

  • 5h, 24m
    Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 (Core i5 3210M, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  • 4h, 9m
    Toshiba Satellite Z930 (Core i5 3317U, 6GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
  • 3h, 21m
    Dell XPS 12 (Core i7 3517U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  • 2h, 55m
    Acer Aspire S7 (13.3-inch, Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 2x 64GB SSD RAID 0)
  • 2h, 21m
    Asus Taichi (Core i5 3317U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
  • 2h, 16m
    Acer Aspire S7 (11.6-inch, Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 2x 128GB SSD RAID 0)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Once again proving that Windows 8 touch-based laptops aren't the best with battery life, the Windows 7-powered Satellite Z930 travels quite well.

Conclusion

Just like the Z830, the Z930 is a great laptop for portability and flexibility. We'd love it if it had a better quality screen, like Samsung's Series 9, but for port complement, it can't be beat.