Toshiba Portege Z30 laptop has excellent body with a clunky soul

The perfect thin and light business companion if you can put up with Windows 8 that is.

The Toshiba Portege Z30. Courtesy Toshiba
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The Toshiba Portege Z30 is likely to fill a gaping hole in the market for a lightweight laptop that is also rugged and has a long-lasting battery. Its main fault is that it runs Windows 8, a fidgety, non-intuitive software (where is the power button? how do I lower the volume?) that will have you begging for a reinstatement of earlier versions.

The machine itself, however, is visually pleasing, even sexy. It has a matt finish, a non-reflective screen, and the review sample that I was given to tinker with was a grainy grey.

Having pushed it off my desk violently on to the floor a number of times, I can attest to its maker’s claim of shock absorption. I resisted pouring piping-hot coffee on it to test its spill-resistant keyboard but did water it in measured doses a number of times. In that regard, I can also vouch for the ease of wiping off the keyboard without leaving any obvious signs of permanent damage.

An amateur chess player, I have for a while been looking for a laptop that will not quickly metamorphose into a pile of hot coals (chess programs use an inordinate amount of processing power, which can often lead to overheating if the ventilation is poor).

My own Apple MacBook Air was almost reduced to cinders while using a chess program in Windows mode, but with the Toshiba Portege Z30, which runs with the latest Intel technology, the bottom of the laptop only became mildly warm (the program, Deep Fritz, used more than 50 per cent of the laptop’s CPU).

Serious gamers may not be attracted by this laptop, though, because it has an integrated graphics card and not a separate one that is typically needed for high intensity graphics and rendering. Or so my gaming enthusiast colleague informs me.

The Portege, which weighs 1.2 kilograms and has a 13.3-inch screen, will still meet the needs of most business and leisure users who do not want to be lumbered with too much baggage and can put up with Windows 8, which as well as being cumbersome, seems to require you to spend half your computer time updating something or another.

Q&A

What are the performance capabilities of the Portege Z30?

The laptop, its makers say, comes with a power-saving and energy efficient Intel Core i7 VPro processor, improved cooling technology, a high-performance solid-state drive and Intel Rapid Start Technology. I can vouch for the speed of turning the computer on and off, though it may take you some time on Windows 8 to figure out how exactly to do that.

Is it good for travelling and connectivity?

The Portege has been built with frequent travellers in mind. Not only does the non-reflective screen make it more comfortable when using it in bright sunlight, but the backlit keyboard is a plus when used on an airplane or at night outside. All the ports you can think of are on the laptop. It also has three USB 3.0 ports and a slot for SD connections. Toshiba also kindly throws in a number of travel adaptors.

How about the security features?

The Toshiba Portege Z30 can come with a fingerprint reader but it does not appear to have been fitted in the version that I received for review. It also comes with Toshiba’s proprietary security technology and a magnesium chassis.

How much is it and where can I buy it from?

The Protege is not available in the UAE until May and starts in the US at about $900.

Any other points?

The battery can last up to 12 hours. For now, US customers can choose to downgrade to the preferable Windows 7.

mkassem@thenational.ae

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