Specifications and performance
From a performance perspective, the Satellite Z830 mostly lived up to our expectations. It has an Intel Core i5-2467M low-voltage CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (expandable to 6GB) and a 128GB solid state drive (SSD). With this configuration, the Z830 recorded 1min in the Blender 3D rendering test, 1min 8sec in the iTunes MP3 encoding test and 1hr 14min in the DVD-to-Xvid file conversion test. These times indicate that it has more than enough grunt to tackle daily chores and time-passing tasks, and it can even be used for tougher tasks if you're game, although it's not designed to run complex workloads. It felt responsive during our evaluation period and it was quick to come out of sleep states, although it was not as quick as the Acer and ASUS Ultrabooks in this respect. We're talking about a three second difference at most.
•Ultrabook specs compared: See at a glance what the Toshiba offers compared to the Acer and ASUS Ultrabooks
•See how the Toshiba Sattelite Z830 compares to the Toshiba Portege Z830
Its 128GB SSD also performed adequately, recording 33.65 megabytes per second (MBps) in our file copy tests; this is a better result than the Acer's 320GB hard drive (28MBps), but slower than the ASUS' 256GB SSD (36MBps) in the same test. In CrystalDiskMark, it wasn't as impressive, recording a read rate of 164.6MBps and a write rate of 50.62MBps. The write rate is a little slower than what we expected.
Graphics are the responsibility of the integrated Intel HD 3000 adapter in the CPU and its score of 4219 in 3DMark06 is actually a lot better than what the Acer and ASUS Ultrabooks recorded in this benchmark. You will have no problems with basic video and imaging-related tasks at the screen's native 1366x768 resolution.
The battery in the Satellite Z830 is located within the chassis and not easily replaceable (you'll have to attack the chassis with a screwdriver). It has a 47 Watt-hour rating, which is slightly less than the 50 Watt-hour rating of the ASUS Zenbook and the Apple MacBook Air, but it put up a good showing.
In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video until the unit runs out of power, the Satellite lasted 4hr 7min. This is 41min longer than the Acer Aspire S3-951 (which uses a hard drive), and 29min better than the ASUS Zenbook US31 (however, the Zenbook UX31 we tested has a brighter screen, a Core i7 CPU and a 256GB SSD).
Of course, how much you get out of the battery will depend on your workload and how you configure the notebook. If you run an efficient power scheme (or in the available Eco mode), use a lower screen brightness and disable the keyboard backlight, you might be able to squeeze up to six hours out of the battery when using the laptop for basic Web tasks and word processing.
Toshiba's Satellite Z830 is the Ultrabook to beat so far. It has the lightest weight, the thinnest profile and the most features of the Ultrabooks we've seen so far, and in our opinion it also sports the best design. Its user-friendliness is also very good. We like its backlit keyboard, which we also found to be quite comfortable to type on, and we like its touchpad, which was cooperative with our movements.
We wish the touchpad's buttons were better though, that the corners of the chassis weren't so pointy, that the screen's viewing angles were better and also that the SSD was a little quicker. We're not sure how well the unit will stand up over time when it comes to heat dispersion due to the very thin chassis, but we didn't have any problems with overheating during our evaluation period. All up though, we think this is currently the best Ultrabook on the Australian notebook market.