This ultrabook has a compact and nicely finished chassis. The magnesium-alloy casing doesn't pick up too many fingerprints and t shouldn't be too hard to keep looking pristine.
The keyboard has backlit chiclet keys, which are rather shallow to type with. They are, however, very quiet. While the keys are a little smaller than those on other 13" ultrabooks we've seen, you can still type away seamlessly and effortlessly without making any more typos than with a standard keyboard.
Similarly, the touchpad offers smooth and precise glide even if it's not quite as big as the touchpads in most other ultrabooks. The left and right buttons just under the touchpad are very quiet to use—it's just a shame that they've been finished in a fingerprint-prone shiny material.
The Z930 has a set of standard connections that don't require any specific adapters. On the left-hand edge, there's an SD card reader, as well as separate headphones and mic ports.
On the right-hand side, you get one lonely USB 3.0 port.
Noise is kept to a real minimum in the Z930. It's very quiet to boot and barely reaches 35 (dB(A)) when you work the components hard with power-hungry programs. The operating temperature is perfectly reasonable too (maximum 37°C).
First of all, hats off to Toshiba for using a matte screen panel in this ultrabook. The matte finish, plus the maximum brightness of 280 cd/m², helps keep reflections and screen glare at bay. We also measured contrast at 600:1, which is way above what we normally see from laptop screens.
Colour fidelity is a little less impressive though, as we measured the Delta E at 10, when it should be 3 or under for colours to be considered accurate. In any case, it's too high to please graphic designers, photo editors and other users who need faithful onscreen colours. In fact, it could even make the colour of something you're buying online look a different hue. We've lived and learned from that one.
The screen definition of 1366 x 768 pixels means that text and characters can be displayed in a nice size. However, you don't get as much onscreen detail as with certain competitor models, like the Asus UX31A or the Acer Aspire S7 with their Full HD displays.
What's more, this laptop uses a TN-type LCD panel, which makes the vertical viewing angles quite tight (the screen goes dark when viewed from below). IPS technology does a much better job.
Green = good / Orange = OK / White = poor.
Output from the built-in speakers in Toshiba's Z930 saturates even at very low volumes. We wouldn't rely on them for much more than system sounds.
Thankfully, this ultrabook makes up for things with a good set of audio connections. You get separate mic input and headphones out ports instead of the all-too common headphones/mic combi port.
The headphones out is good quality too, with an accurate output and a decent volume level without any distortion.
Our test laptop
The Toshiba Portégé Z930 we received to test came with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 6 GB of RAM, the Intel HD 4000 graphics chipset and a 256 GB SSD. While the first part of this review is applicable to all versions of the Z930 (see inset), the following results for performance and battery life are only relevant to the specific model we tested.
The Intel Core i5-3317U processor (CPU index 96) in this 13" ultrabook gives decent performances that make all kinds of activities possible (3D modelling, video encoding, etc.).
The 256 GB SSD and 6 GB of RAM make for good general responsiveness. Boot time, including connection to a Wi-Fi network, is just 37 seconds. It takes under 10 seconds for the Z930 to shut down fully. You should be able to shave about a third off that for models with Windows 8.
The integrated Intel HD 4000 chip (3DMark06 index: 4943) is on hand for graphics. Performance is pretty limited, but with a 1366 x 768 pixel screen def you can still run a few more lightweight games like Dirt 3 with the graphics detail at medium. Full HD movies pose no problem at all.
Mobility / Battery Life
Battery life is neither good nor bad here, as the Z930 offers average performances compared with the other ultrabooks we've reviewed. We measured battery life at 4 hrs 57 mins for video playback (Wi-Fi and backlighting features off, screen at 100 cd/m², headphones plugged in).
- Good levels of processing power
- Quiet (35 dB(A) when working hard)
- High-contrast matte screen (600:1)
- Good-quality headphones out
- Separate headphones and mic sockets
- HDMI and VGA outs
- No need for adapters (standard-format connections used)
- Not so good for games
- Onscreen colour fidelity could be better (Delta E = 10)
- TN screen (tight vertical viewing angles)
- Poor-quality speakers
The Toshiba Portégé Z930 has plenty of qualities for users on the move. It's slim, powerful, light, and has a decent battery life, a good set of connections and a matte screen finish. With a better screen and speakers, it could easily have bagged a fifth star.