The Bottom Line
Sep 19 2012 - For those that want the lightest 13-inch laptop they can get, they don't get any lighter than the two and a half pound Toshiba Portege Z935. Even with this low weight, the ultrabook offers some of the best running times available and has a very reasonable price tag. Of course, the design of the system is rather dated with its boxy look and the lighter weight does make it feel more flimsy. In addition, the screen is definitely below average for this price segment.
- Affordable Pricing
- Extremely Light
- Long Battery Life
- Doesn't Feel As Sturdy As Many Other 13-inch Ultrabooks
- Screen Offers Very Narrow Viewing Angles
- SSD Performance Slower Than Many Competing SSD Ultrabooks
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) Display With Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.4" x 8.9" x .63" @ 2.5 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Toshiba Portege Z935-P300
Sep 19 2012 - Toshiba's second generation ultrabook is essentially a very minor update to their first generation Portege Z835. It still retains its extremely lightweight design at just two and a half pounds that is lighter than just about every ultrabook on the market. The downside is that this means it uses the same boxy rather than tapered design that gives it a more dated look and it doesn't feel as sturdy as mostly from its lighter overall weight.
The big change in the Portege Z935 is the move from the Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge processors. For the Z935-P300, this is the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core processor that is the most common of the new ultra low voltage processors used for ultrabooks. In terms of performance, it does do a bit better than the i3-2367M from the past model but it isn't a huge improvement. With the 4GB of DDR3 memory, it offers sufficient performance for the majority of users. Only those that are doing very demanding work such as desktop video editing are going to have issues and in those cases, they probably want to look beyond an ultrabook.
Storage features remain completely unchanged. While many companies have opted to use a hybrid hard drive for extra storage space, the Z935-P300 sticks to the 128GB solid state drive to provide it with a bit more power efficiency and performance but with the limited storage space for applications, data and media files. Write performance has improved a bit from the past version but it still lags behind other SSD based ultrabooks. Booting times were still good at just under thirty seconds but still falls short of the Apple MacBook Air 13 or the Acer Aspire S5 with its dual SSD drives that are about twice as fast. There is a USB 3.0 port available for use with high speed external storage drives if you do need additional space. It would have been nice to see another port as more of the second generation are beginning to offer two or three of them.
The biggest problem with the Portege Z935 continues to be its display. The 13.3-inch panel feels like one from a very low end budget system. It still have the 1366x768 native resolution but the color is a bit off and the viewing angles are very limited. Even minor viewing off of center results in a significant color dropoff or loss of brightness. The graphics themselves have been updated thanks to the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the processor. It offers better 3D performance but is still best suited for only casual gaming on older titles with lower resolution and detail levels. The trade off for this is that it offers even better video media transcoding speeds thanks to the improved support for Quick Sync compatible applications.
Toshiba's keyboard design was a bit different from other ultrabooks with a wider design that offered more space and being splash resistant. The overall feel of the keyboard falls somewhere between comfortable and problematic. This probably has to do with the short throw of the keys and the design that lets a fair amount of light out from under the keyboard backlight. The trackpad is a bit on the small side for an ultrabook but does offer dedicated left and right buttons which avoids the awkward click recognition problems of many integrated button designs.
The battery pack still remains a 47WHr capacity battery pack that is fairly typical of ultrabooks. Toshiba claims that the laptop can achieve roughly eight and a third hours. In my digital video playback tests, it did manage to rough three and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is one of the better overall running times when it comes to ultrabooks falling just below the six hours that the MacBook Air 13 and HP Folio 13 could achieve. It is possible for the laptop to achieve the running times Toshiba claims but it would be under very light usage conditions and under the Toshiba eco utility.
With a price tag of $900, the Toshiba Portege Z935-P300 is one of the more affordable ultrabooks that is based on with solid state drives. Those closest in terms of price would be the second generation of the Acer Aspire S3 that while heavier and with shorter battery life, offers a faster processor and additional USB 3.0 port. At $1000, there are the HP Envy Spectre XT 13t, Samsung Series 5 and Sony VAIO T as options. In each of these cases, the performance is very similar but they differ in areas such as build quality, battery life, keyboard and peripherals ports.