Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook (model PT235A-00V00D01)

Toshiba Portege Z930 review: a business-oriented Ultrabook with good features, an impressively light weight and thin chassis

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews (2)
  • Buy Now
Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook (model PT235A-00V00D01)
  • Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook (model PT235A-00V00D01)
  • Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook (model PT235A-00V00D01)
  • Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook (model PT235A-00V00D01)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    2.50 / 5 (of 2 Reviews)

Pros

  • Core i7 CPU
  • Fast SSD
  • Built-in HDMI, VGA, Ethernet
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Screen's viewing angles
  • Touchpad could be better
  • No keyboard backlight
  • Only one USB 3.0 port

Bottom Line

Toshiba's thin-and-light Portege Z930 ships with business features such as a vPro chipset, biometrics and integrated 3G, in addition to a useful range of built-in ports. It could use a better screen, touchpad and keyboard, but its overall usability is still quite good and it's a fine Ultrabook to travel with on a daily basis.

Would you buy this?

The Toshiba Portege Z930 (model PT235A-00V00D01) is a 13.3in Ultrabook designed specifically for business users. It carries features such as a vPro chipset, a fingerprint reader, a matte screen and integrated mobile broadband support, yet it's still a lightweight machine — it's only about 1.1kg. It's an Ultrabook that addresses management, security and mobility needs and it also doesn't make too many compromises when it comes to connectivity. The feel of the keyboard and the angles of the screen could be better, but the user-friendliness of the unit isn't too bad overall, despite the chassis being so thin and light.

Specifications and performance

On the inside, the Portege Z930 packs a third generation Intel Core i7-3667U CPU, which runs at a standard speed of 2GHz, with two cores plus Hyper-Threading, and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. There is 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 256GB solid state drive (SSD) installed, too (a Toshiba THNSN256GMCP model). All this amounts to a configuration that can supply lots of speed for running office applications, media tasks and multitasking. In our Blender 3D rendering test, a time of 39sec was recorded, while in our iTunes MP3 encoding test, a time of 45sec was achieved. Both times are the fastest we've seen from an Ultrabook in these tests to date, which isn't surprising given that this Portege also features the fastest CPU we've seen in an Ultrabook to date.

Heavier tasks also fared well. In our AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid conversion test, the Portege recorded a time of 49min, which is one minute faster than the ASUS Zenbook Prime and Sony VAIO T Series Ultrabooks that use the slightly slower 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U CPU. The graphics performance of the Portege was also expectedly faster, recording 5591 in 3DMark06, which is over 400 marks faster than the ASUS and over 1500 marks faster than the Sony.

The biggest surprise in our performance tests of the Portege Z930 came from its 256GB SSD, which recorded a massive 508.4 megabytes per second (MBps) in the CrystalDiskMark read test, and 245.8MBps in the write test. The read speed in this test is the fastest we've seen from an Ultrabook so far, although the write speed still falls a little short of the 256GB SSDs in the Zenbook Prime and Dell XPS 13 Ultrabooks. In our own file duplication tests, the SSD lived up to the fast CrystalDiskMark speeds, recording 137MBps, which is much faster than the ASUS, but slower than the Dell.

So much performance from such a thin unit.
So much performance from such a thin unit.

We found the overall responsiveness of the Portege Z930 to be excellent during regular usage, despite Toshiba having installed so many programs by default. Boot up time with the Toshiba factory image was only 17sec, while resume time from standby was less than 2sec. A lot of pop-ups pestered us while we used the laptop though, from programs such as Clickfree backup, Splashtop Streamer and a trial of Norton Internet Security, which will go away once you configure them — alternatively, you could just uninstall them. Microsoft Office Starter is also installed, as is the Google Chrome Web browser.

Battery life

Battery life is generally an area where Toshiba laptops don't always fare well in our tests, but the Portege Z930 beat the odds. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the battery lasted exactly four hours. This is about half an hour better than the Dell XPS 13 and ASUS Zenbook Prime Ultrabooks, which have Core i7 CPUs (the Dell we tested had a second gen Sandy Bridge while the Zen had a third gen Ivy Bridge), but still not as good as the Sony VAIO T Series, which is another third gen Core i7-based Ultrabook and currently the longest-lasting model we've tested. During regular usage (Web browsing, document creation and watching the odd YouTube video), the Portege Z930 lasted about five and half hours — that was with a low brightness setting.

User comfort

When under a full processing load, the Toshiba's fan kicked into high gear. It sounded a little unsettling as it ramped up. Depending on the workload you are running, and the ambient sound level of your environment, it could get annoying. Because it's such a thin laptop with a small fan and a relatively small vent to push air through, the noise is understandable; it's not as loud as some other Ultrabooks we've seen, such as the Fujitsu U772 and HP Envy Spectre XT. The good thing is that the dynamic control is very active and the fan will quickly slow down as soon as the processing load eases. During regular usage, such as Web browsing, watching videos and document creation, for example, the laptop remained mostly quiet and the fan was only heard seldomly.

A 13.3in matte screen resides in the Portege's aluminium lid (which is only 4mm thick on its own) and it has a native resolution of 1366x768, which is standard for a 13.3in Ultrabook, and a little disappointing for those of us who like to work with more pixels on above-standard screens. It has decent brightness and can be viewed easily in an office environment thanks to its non-reflective finish, but its viewing angles are quite narrow. We found ourselves tilting the screen quite often in order to get better colours and contrast. It's not a screen on which you can easily view photos, intricate graphs and movies, for example, without adjusting the angle, but it's fine for documents.

The keyboard has chiclet-style keys, which are well laid out and easy to hit, but they don't have much travel. They feel shallow, although they are reasonably soft. Eventually, we got used to them and found the keyboard to be good overall during long typing sessions. There is a column of Page, End and Home keys to the right of the Enter and Backspace keys, and there is a nice separation between the left and right arrow keys so that you can easily feel for them (however, the up and down arrows are close together). It's not a backlit keyboard though, and as users who often work at night, this is a drawback for us.

The keyboard and touchpad layout.
The keyboard and touchpad layout.

You get a Synaptics touchpad for navigation, which is 85x50cm and it supports multi-finger gestures. We had no problems using two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicking gestures, and the accuracy of the pad was good overall. We found its texture to be a little sticky though and would prefer the surface to be a little smoother. We aren't fans of the left- and right-cick buttons, which are set in a frame that makes them hard to feel for and a little difficult to press. Nestled in between them is the fingerprint reader.

Connections

The very light weight (1.1kg) and thin nature of the of the Portege Z930 (it's 16mm thick — 18mm thick when you take into account the rubber feet on the base) makes it one of the easiest notebooks on the Australian market to carry on a day-to-day basis — and it can comfortably be carried with one hand while you walk around the office, too. Not only that, it feels sturdy enough, it looks elegant and its power adapter is only 92mm long and 42mm wide (although the power cable is thick and requires attention while packing). But despite the thin and light design, the Portege Z930 features a good array of ports.

The right side is sparse with only one USB 3.0 port and the slot for the SIM card (there is also a cable lock facility on this side), and the left side is equally sparse, featuring only separate headphone and microphone ports and an SD card slot. The majority of the ports have been placed on the spine, and this is where you can find the full-sized HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, power and two more USB ports. Unfortunately, these two ports are only USB 2.0. We think this is a drawback, but we generally have more than one high-speed device that we plug in while we work. For many business users, the regular-speed ports may not be an inconvenience. In terms of layout, we like the location of the network port and video ports on the rear, as it keeps the cables out of the way.

The ports on the left side.
The ports on the left side.

The ports on the right side.
The ports on the right side.

The ports on the rear.
The ports on the rear.

Other features of the Portege Z930 include a built-in webcam, Blueooth and dual-band, 802.11n Wi-Fi (Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235). The integrated 3G module is an Ericsson H5321gw, and we had no problems using our standard iiNet SIM card, which runs on the Optus network. The SIM slot on the right side can be opened relatively easily if you have adequate fingernails. Once we inserted our SIM card and then enabled the 3G module (via the Function-F8 key combination), a 3G network was available for us to connect to through Windows 7. The only thing we had to do was enter the correct APN for our account.

The SIM card slot.
The SIM card slot.

Conclusion

With good speed, a useful array of ports, integrated 3G and, of course, a slim and light chassis, it's hard to put down the Toshiba Portege Z930. It's a lovely Ultrabook to commute with on a daily basis and despite the thin profile, its keyboard isn't too bad to type on for long periods of time (once you get the hang of the shallow keys). The only problems are the screen, which can require lots of tilting to get the contrast right, the touchpad, which can feel a little sticky at times, and the lack of a backlight for the keyboard. We'd also like it if less software was installed by default. For what you pay, a better screen and a backlight would definitely be nice additions. That said, if you work during the day, you won't need the backlight, and while you're in the office, you can always plug in to a better screen.

Related notebook reviews:

Sony VAIO T Series Ultrabook
HP Envy Spectre XT Ultrabook
Toshiba Satellite U840W Ultrabook
Origin EON15-S gaming notebook
Dell Inspiron 15R 5520 Ivy Bridge notebook
Medion Akoya P6635 Ivy Bridge notebook
HP Envy 6-1001tx Ultrabook
HP Pavilion dv6-7030tx Ivy Bridge notebook
Sony VAIO E Series 14P Ivy Bridge notebook
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A Ultrabook
Fujitsu Lifebook U772 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook
Dell XPS 14 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook
Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook
Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Ivy Bridge laptop
Apple MacBook Pro (15in with Retina display)
ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop
Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 Ultrabook
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530 Ivy Bridge laptop
Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

disappointed buyer

1

Very poor screen quality. It breaks with a look.... I really don't recommend it.

Reviewer

2

Bought in August 2012. Screen broke in Dec. 2012.

William

3

Our firm bought 80 machines about 6 months ago, so far we have 8 cases of cracked screen at the exact same location. As you guys mentioned, the screen is not under warranty and it costs AU$500 to replace.

I don't how Toshiba can pass the test the this product and keep their customer happy. I WILL NEVER BUY A TOSHIBA AGAIN!!!

Steve Wyer

4

As above..I have had major screen issues within 5 hrs of first boot up...the reseller _ Laptops Direct UK are complete scheisters....they would not replace or handle repair of the unit...completely ignored a reasonable request...referred to Toshiba, who whilst I understand that the antagonistic attitude taken by customer services may be legally correct ie the fault is the problem of the reseller, they required payment of $400 to complete the repair as they construed that the fault was not a warranty issue. They could not however tell me either why they considered this to be the case or indeed how the damage may have occured?...unbelieveable and very poor performance from a global brand leader. I too would most certainly never recommend Toshiba again, something I had done on many occasion previously, in fact I would go out of my way to recommend potential customers seek alternatives due to shockingly poor and intransigent customer service behavour!!

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

noname

4.5

1

Pros
light, love the design
Cons
screen
• • •

I own Z930 for around 1 year now. I did upgrade mine to 256SSD and 10GB RAM. Super lightweight and portable.

Did travel across countries with it and nothing happened to the screen. The key is to have good carrying bag and not paper one.

About screen: it's poor I do agree with that. Small resolution, not so good viewing angles but... one of the best mate screens I have looked at. I can actually work with this screen outdoor. Don't get me wrong, it wont help if it's summer mid day although screen is still visible.

If Toshiba will continue this series with: 4th gen CPU, SAME DESIGN - I absolutely love the design of this one (subjective opinion) and touch matte screen with bigger resolution then I will buy it again.

Bottom line - probably lightweight ultra book out there with (subjective) cool design and nice performance and battery life.

Tatiana

0.0

2

Pros
very light and looks beautiful
Cons
screen very poor quality, touchpad not very good
• • •

Very poor screen quality. It breaks with a look.... I really don't recommend it. Everything else I can live with as long as it is easy to carry, but the screen is too fragile and easy to crack. It really has good things but the fact that a "portable computer" can't be carried around in a laptop bag makes it not-portable at all.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?