The Toshiba Portege Z835 is No Sliver Queen

Ignoring my godawful joke of a headline, the Toshiba Portege Z835 is initially fairly impressive to behold. Toshiba uses a brushed aluminum aesthetic for almost the entire notebook, with a matching gray plastic bottom cover. Physically, the main body of the notebook doesn't flex at all; good news given the stunningly thin 0.63" profile. It really does look like a sliver, with only a bit of tapering around the top of the lid and the front of the body to keep it from looking boxy.

Unfortunately, while the body feels pretty firm, the Z835 absolutely gives up the ghost with the screen, lid, and hinges. The screen and lid are extremely thin, and the hinges are pretty wobbly. There's a tremendous amount of flex with the screen, enough to give me real pause. Screens on laptops are always a little flexy, but on the Z835 I feel like even my dire tyrannosaurus rex arms could snap it in half. The bezel also seems unusually wide on all sides, which is a bit of a disappointment after seeing the incredibly slender one used on Dell's XPS 14z.

Other reviews have complained about the keyboard quality, but this isn't the worst keyboard I've seen from Toshiba, much less the industry. Toshiba's chiclet layout is usually pretty smart, but the one on the Z835 and its cousin, the R830, is literally an inch from greatness. Seriously, an inch on the y-axis: the keys are simply too short. When I look at the shell of the Z835, I can't help but feel like the keys could've been lengthened just a little bit. Travel also for the most part feels fine, but the keys are also fairly mushy. I don't think the keyboard is a lost cause, but it definitely needs to be revised. Layout is fine, just fix the overall size and quality. The chassis has room for both.

Thankfully the touchpad is extremely smooth and easy to use, and at least has a dedicated surface as opposed to being just part of the shell. The buttons feel a bit mushy and are made of the same cheap looking silver plastic as on the hinges, but they're definitely usable and this is far from the worst touchpad I've used. I have no problem navigating with it.

Finally, the bottom panel is held on by an embarassment of screws, and it bows a bit if you push on it. Even after removing all the screws I still couldn't remove the panel for fear of damaging the Z835, so if you're going to buy it, you'd better buy the configuration you want. There's a single vent for a fan that bubbles out a bit, but honestly I found the Z835 ran extremely cool anyhow.

Ultimately the Z835 looks pretty good and I'd dispute other reviews that call it out as looking too chintzy or cheap. The problem is that in places it does feel cheaper than you'd like, and I just don't like how much the top and bottom panels flex, especially the lid. Intel's $1,000 price point for ultrabooks is pretty pie-in-the-sky, and the sacrifices Toshiba had to make to beat it are evidence of that.

Introducing the Toshiba Portege Z835 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • inighthawki - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Depends on the kind of work. I do a lot of programming, and as a result, tiling two coding windows side by side in visual studio works wonderfully on a widescreen display, but not so much on a full screen display.
  • uhuznaa - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I would really like to see some statistics how old people are who buy such things and how their eyesight is. 1600x900 on 13.3" with no way to adjust the OS to it means that everything you want to read and click on the screen becomes that small that working with it for many hours a day becomes a strain. Yeah, you can cram more content and toolbars and icons onto the screen, but this comes with a price.

    I know more than enough "normal" users who think that such many pixels are even too much to be comfortable on 19" desktop displays and run them with non-native resolutions just to get comfortable UI sizes. Especially since they just have no need for 1600 horizontal pixels since they run everything full-screen anyway.
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    "1600x900 on 13.3" with no way to adjust the OS to it means that everything you want to read and click on the screen becomes that small"

    Win7 click start>control panel>display and set it from 100 to 125 or even 150% if you are really blind.
  • SoundsGood - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    >> Win7 click start>control panel>display and set it from 100 to 125 or even 150% if you are really blind.

    That's fine if you *only* use the laptop's screen. But not so great for those of us that often use an external monitor. It means always switching back and forth between 125 DPI and 100 DPI... which is NOT fun.
  • Filiprino - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    It's a non-issue. Sony has the Vaio Z with 1080p on it's 13 inch screen. That's a real problem.
    But 1600x900 on 13 inches it's not a problem. I've got a 15,6 inch laptop with full hd screen and it's really nice. Not only because you can have more things being displayed, but also for things that were traditionally huge now they aren't.

    And of course, more resolution benefits productivity.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Sony's screen is wonderful. I used the Vaio Z with a 1080p screen at the Microsoft store. The DPI was set to 150% so everything appeared the normal size for a 13" computer, but everything was SO CLEAR. It was awesome. I really want one, but they're very expensive!
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    For me 1366x768 is borderline uncomfortable on 11.6". So I guess I wouldn't want more than 1400x900 at 13.3".

  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    You can increase the DPI setting which makes everything bigger but sharper than a standard resolution display.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Windows 7 has great scaling capabilities. The whole OS has higher resolution graphics for when you increase the DPI setting. Third party support is not quite there yet, but things just get blown up to make them bigger. Not that annoying when the DPI is high enough.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I'm going to go further than this: They need to offer it in 16:10, not 16:9 as you suggest is OK.

    How about 1680x1050, laptop makers :3

    Look at the retarded huge bezel below and above the screen. This is getting out of hand. 16:9 is a terrible ratio for computing, but because the screens are getting spat out cheaply, this is what we get.

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