Hot on the heels of the Ultrabook releases from Acer and Asus, Toshiba have launched their new Satellite Z830 Ultrabook, and we have the pleasure of detailing this sleek piece of machinery for our readers.
I’ll start by touching briefly on the specs. As with all newly released Ultrabooks this machine touts a low voltage version of the second generation Intel Core processor, in this case an i5 2467 with a 1.6GHz frequency that turbo boosts to 2.3Ghz, along with the on-die Intel HD graphics. It comes with 4GB RAM, which is fixed and not upgradeable, as well as a 128GB solid state drive. The battery is also non-replaceable, another defining descriptor for Ultrabooks thus far.
Keeping with the Ultrabook philosophy, the Satellite Z830 is defined by its very slim form factor, and at 15.9mm, cuts a very thin figure with the lid opened or closed. In contrast to the Acer or Asus variants, the Z830 maintains a consistent thickness from the front to the back, eschewing the wedge design preferred by its competitors. It’s a clean-lined and professional looking machine.
Toshiba hasn’t compromised on the outputs despite the tighter real estate. On the left hand side is the full size SD card slot, headphone jack and external microphone input. On the right hand side is a high speed USB 3.0 port, easily identifiable with its blue connector, and a Kensington lock.
The back panel is where the majority of the port action is, with Ethernet, two USB 2.0, HDMI, and VGA ports – all full-sized. Toshiba have clearly thought about usage in the business sector. Where the Asus and Acer models rely on wireless connection or a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, the no-fuss Ethernet connection makes it an easy choice for travellers that use hotel rooms regularly.
Similarly, the VGA output, although seemingly outdated with the inclusion of the HDMI output, makes sense for anyone that travels from location to location and uses projectors for their presentations or videos. It is still the standard connector for anyone who needs a quick connection to someone else’s monitor or projector.
Venting has been approached quite differently from each Ultrabook vendor we’ve seen so far. On the Acer S3, the back panel air vent dissipates the heat, and on the Asus Zenbooks the vents are at the top of the keyboard just underneath the screen. The Z830’s fan has small slots in the base of the unit, with the main vents on the left hand side of the back panel next to the Ethernet port.
At 1.1kg, the Z830 is light, in fact deceptively light. You do get a sense that a PC of these dimensions should weigh a bit more. I passed the Z830 to a couple of colleagues to see their reaction and they thought it was missing its battery. It’s hard to describe the lightness without actually experiencing it for yourself.
I found myself holding the Z830 in ways that I wouldn’t other notebooks, simply because it wouldn’t normally be possible. I can hold this Ultrabook open from the left hand corner with no other support. It’s not a huge thing, but just knowing it is both light and stiff when moving it from point to point means less preoccupation with how to pick it up – any edge will do.
There is a downside to this lack of weight: it sets up expectations for how all notebooks should feel when picked up and used around the house or on the road. Even a typical 10” netbook weighs more. How am I supposed to go back to my wretched heavyweight notebook after this?
Opening the lid presents a rather angular design rather than the more curved and striking designs seen in other Ultrabooks. It really looks like it belongs on the uncluttered desk of a business executive, more so than out in the café crowds. The Z830 is definitely more understated in its look, and that will appeal to many in the enterprise or small business space.
A few design features pop out immediately upon opening the unit. The first is the touchpad, with the distinguishable left and right click buttons. On other Ultrabooks, this has been integrated into the touchpad to great effect, but here Toshiba have taken a more practical route with defined areas for the touchpad and left/right click buttons. As with many other Toshiba notebooks, a dedicated button for disabling the touchpad lives just below the space bar.
The space directly below the touchpad buttons have been utilised with miniature status indicators for drive use, power/charging, wireless connection, etc. This benefits the overall design aesthetic of the Z830 with no other distracting LEDs on the surface of the horizontal base.
Further up the Ultrabook’s body, there is a noticeable valley where the keyboard exists. Due to this dip, the island keys are actually flush with the rest of the surface and adds to the streamlined visual signature – subtle but effective.
A very visible feature is part of the keyboard itself – all keys are backlit. This means no issues typing in lowlight environments, and the characters light up in a bright white display. This may not be a feature that will be used every day, but as a blogger that works all kinds of hours, I can see the benefit immediately. You may not always want external lighting while you’re working, either out of respect for others or other reasons, and the backlit keyboard just gives that extra flexibility.
Onto the screen, and the single long centre hinge and the brutally squared-off corners of the monitor make this machine even more corporate-looking. Where the Acer S3 have two side hinges and the Asus Zenbook places the screen slightly behind the keyboard, the monitor here actually rises out of the keyboard base, with deliberate gaps on the left and right sides to enhance the effect. It’s a sparse screen too, with only a subtle screen print of the branding below and the webcam and mic above the LED.
Cold booting from complete shutdown is impressive. I booted up three times in a row to make sure, and each time I was onto the desktop within 18 seconds. That’s right, not from hibernation or sleep… from shut down mode. I then tried from sleep mode, and the wake up time was less than 3 seconds.
When probing into the Toshiba utility programs, there is an application called Hi Speed Start. This will quicken the boot-up time but will bypass any required Windows updating in preference to starting up lightning fast.
When you have these kinds of boot-up and wake-up times, you can see where Intel, along with their manufacturing partners, is addressing the tablet experience by offering such quick response times. Those that use tablets are used to instant access, and Ultrabooks gives a pretty close experience, but with a keyboard and all the Windows software that goes with it.
The resolution of the screen is 1366 x 768, the same as the Acer S3 but lower than the Asus UX31. One thing I did notice was the amount of bend that could be applied to the lid/screen, due to the extreme thinness of the frame. I’d say that would be in part due to the single hinge not travelling all the way to the bottom corners. While it doesn’t have an impact on everyday usability, I would still caution against applying too much pressure to opposite ends of the LED screen.
There are two small vents below the palm rests on the keyboard, which pump out surprisingly clear and loud sound given how small the slots are. The main target audience for this Ultrabook may not be for home entertainment or gaming enthusiasts, but it’s good to see that downtime activities like movies and music playback will still look and sound solid on this machine.
As a first impression, it’s a great example of an Ultrabook trying not to compromise on functions that traditional business-minded customers would expect, such as VGA and Ethernet connectivity. On the other hand the sharp corners, single hinge design and impressively light weight (best in industry, in fact) shows a commitment to the Ultrabook quest for thinner, lighter products backed up by performance.
The Z830 may not have the flair of some of its counterparts, but its cool-corporate design and full suite of input/outputs will still place it on the shopping list for those looking to upgrade their notebook to the newest generation of portable computing devices.
What are your thoughts on this latest Ultrabook release? As with my other articles on this emerging category , feel free to ask me any questions about the Toshiba Ultrabook and I’ll be more than happy to respond.
Hi Ritchie, thanks for another great write up. I just have a few questions, the Acer and Asus both seemed to be omitting some key specs and from some reviews didn’t stack up against the already established Apple Alir, does the Toshiba compare better than the Acer or Asus? How much will the Z830 be retailing for? I also hear HP and Lenovo are releasing their takes on the Ultrabook soon, do you know if they will follow Toshiba’s lead and take a more corporate approach to specs and designs – no doubt the latter manufacture will take that route?
Hi Carl, thanks for the question. RRP of the Z830 is $1,399. If you’re looking for onboard input/outputs, then the Toshiba is definitely the winner so far. All of the offices I’ve worked in use monitors with VGA input and Cat 5 cabling for networking, so the Z830 suits the business environment the best out of the three I’ve sampled so far.
The Asus unibody, along with the increased screen resolution (the only one comparable to the Mac Book Air) and very good speaker system appears to be positioned as an entertainment device with good lashings of style, which it does very well. The Acer has so far only released the hard drive versions and are good value for money, and so far have the coolest base because of its rear venting design, but does miss USB 3.0 and Ethernet.
I have seen the HP Ultrabook and it definitely follows the Toshiba philosophy in terms of a corporate mindset, I’ll be able to say more once the embargo lifts. And you’re correct, Lenovo’s position in the market indicates a more conservative but robust Ultrabook on its way. Hopefully I’ll have a detailed look at both the Lenovo and HP models in the very near future.
learn trade says
I have just got a i7 high spec z830, and i am having issues with the space bar.
the left and right section /area of the space bar are not responsive and causing me a serious headache
I am considering contacting toshiba support about it.
Thanks for the heads up. Please let us know how you go and share with our readers if there is a fix for the issue you’re having. I’ll ask my contacts if that has been identified as an issue, although it would be early days for such a pattern to emerge.
learn trade says
Hey again Rithie,
I did take the Toshiba z830 back to the store and got a refund, I am sorry to report that the Toshiba build quality, screen and keyboard is absolutely horrible. I have switched to the ASUS ultrabook which is slightly heavier, but performs much better, and has NO keyboard errors or problems. The build quality is great, very nice lightwight metal casing, nice on the eyes too.
The Toshiba has a flimsy screen and space bar issue was too big of a probem to overlook. The ones on display also had the same issues and shop floor manager also agreed it is a problem which will likely result in a recall.
Thanks for the update. Feel free to come back with more details on your Asus Zenbook impressions. We’d love to hear other people’s experiences with their Ultrabook purchases, good or bad.
learn trade says
An Update on my UX31 Asus purchase, mate the computer casing and look and feel are great.. BUT.. I must tell you I have had MAJOR MAJOR dramas with the mouse track pad/touch pad. I have had to update the bios firmware, and then I had to update the track pad driver. Using the track pad is just really wierd and not normal, all over the net people are complaining about it. ASUS has really dropped the ball with the track pad and now I want to take this machine back as well. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel these new generation ultrabooks just don’t cut it, they are not tested enough. I am very happy with the actual specs of both the UX31 and the Z830, but i can’ say that either was really impressive now.
learn trade says
As I said earlier, this z830 is just not good enough. The keyboards on z830 are faulty, touch the right side of the space bar on these machines and you will find it is unresponsive, when you type and press the space bar with your thumbs (touch typing).. you are going to have serious problems. I tried several machines on display in multiple stores.. ALL had the same issue. The shop assistant also said it was ‘very strange’. Add the problems with the UX31 trackpad from ASUS.. and I get the feeling these ultrabooks just are not ready and have not been tested enough in the factory.
Thanks again for sharing your detailed look at the keyboard performance of the Asus and Toshiba models. We’ll see if we can get any comment on this from the manufacturers, and once again if anyone else has purchased an Ultrabook, please feel free to talk about your impressions here.
Mind sharing the FCC ID for both the Toshiba Z830 and Asus Zenbook UX31?
This is not a classified information and usually written at the back of the system with its proper label.
I hope you could help me on this one so I can study their wireless performance.
Thanks in advance.
Just an FYI that Best Buy’s going to be selling a pared-down variant of this at $799, according to their website.
Thanks for the news Jojo. This works well for Intel, as their strategy has always been to get the Ultrabooks into a more mainstream price position to increase its share of the notebook market. There are many and varied forecasts about the strength of the Ultrabook category over the next 12 months, and this news certainly helps the category (and Toshiba of course) gain traction.
Thanks for the Z830 detailed overview. I heard rumours about low performances of the SSD, did you experience any lag or late response of the toshiba SSD during your test?
Thanks a lot
Hi Pietro, thanks for your question. I haven’t done SSD speed test yet, but I do intend to. I’ll come back with some results in the very near future.
Thanks for the Z830 overview. I’ve seen some reviews stating that the screen has a glossy finish, others that it is matte. Could you look which of the two is the case?
Thanks for the question. There may be subtle manufacturing differences in different regions. Certinaly here in Australia, the screen has a glossy finish. Cheers, Ritchie
In the U.S., the low-end Z835 has the glossy screen but the Core i5 and i7 Z830 models have matte screens.
Thanks for the heads up Brian. I’d love to hear what screen is preferred by our readers.
I have a request though.
Could you please share the FCC ID for both the Toshiba Z830 and Asus Zenbook UX31?
I wish to take a look at their wireless performance.
Thanks in advance!
sorry for the misspell…
Thanks in advance Ritchie!
And more power…
Hi there and thanks for the compliment. As I’ve now finished with both the Toshiba and Asus models, I returned them to their respective owners, and can’t extract the FCC ID for you. I’m not sure that the companies would be willing to supply those codes on request. However, if I do find a way to help I will. If there is anyone else who is now the proud owner of either the Z830 or UX31, feel free to join the discussion here!
Oh I see.
I tried to check your last photo.
Too bad the FCC ID was out of focus.
I think it won’t be a problem if you ask them since you did give their products a review.
And these information aren’t confidential as well.
And to any owners, kindly share the FCC IDs.
It’s usually at the back of the system.
Don’t worry, these IDs are not confidential and the same for every system of the same model.
Thanks in advance.
i just want to chime in here and say that i have been to two stores in Australia
one of the z830 of the two i have seen has this spacebar problem. the bottom right corne of the spacebar sometimes does not register as a key press
hopefully toshiba can sort this one out