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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  • iWatchHogwash2 - Thursday, July 23, 2015 - link

    • Apple puts iWatch in stores

      Maybe some idiot will buy them
  • Henk Poley - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Shouldn't that read silver, instead of sliver? The typo is made several times.
  • dszc - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    For me, the ultrabook concept is a bulls-eye!
    EXACTLY what I need.

    I need to get real work done when I travel. And I must travel more than I want to.
    The Zenbook looks almost perfect. But it has that stupid Asus "keyboard" and an inadequate glossy panel TN display. Give me a real display and keyboard and I'll glady pay an extra $100-200.

    This new Toshiba Z835 completely misses the mark and the concept. It is just a glorified netbook. Nothing "ULTRA" about it. Same problem with the Macbook Air. At least Asus with their Zenbook is on the right track.

    I'm a photographer and am always processing RAW files in Lightroom and Photoshop. That takes horsepower. The i7 and SSD in the Zenbook have it. The laptop needs to be small enough to easily add to carry-on when flying, and it needs to fit on a airline fold-down tray. Probably 13". It needs enough battery life to last cross-country. And maybe a spare battery for trans-Atlantic.
    With the Zenbook, whenver I have 5-10 minutes I could just pop it out and finish another picture (project/spreadsheet/fill-in-the-blank). With my current Asus G51 beast, with its ~10lb+ travel weight, by the time I find an electrical outlet, get it plugged in and booted up, my 10 minutes is gone and I have done no work.

    For storage, a small 2.5" external USB3 makes the most sense. All my data and files stay on there and I can just plug that into my desktop or anyone else's computer when not traveling.

    This ultrabook concept is perfect for me. Until it came along, I had no hope. Now, all of a sudden, The Zenbook and Lenovo's high-powered entry are very close!
  • Sunburn74 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Anand is a real screen junkie. It makes his articles incredibly hard to interprete. Whilst he writes off laptops that haveTN panels with 1366x788 resolutions and are glossy, I personally have used said laptops and don't care or eve notice the screen. I dont work outdoors. I don't spend all my time looking at my windows icons. I don't game on my laptop. I watch the occasional movie on it and do so in crowded environments where I am always distracted by the time, the people, when the bus/train will come, etc. I am a completely normal person with completely normal usage patterns and to me the ultrabooks are highly appealing.

    I have never cared about the screen as long as its reasonably functional. I very feel people who buy macs also really don't care either (the imac is IPS, the mac air is TN and no one cares).
  • Sternreisender - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I picked the Z835 up at BB at the end of November. My last laptop died a few weeks before and I had just come into the required monies so I was chomping at the bit. My requirements were SSD, backlit keyboard, ultrabook.

    I could have waited for the Folio13 but honestly, I've been happy. Main usage is web browsing/movie watching. I wanted portability. It feels fragile, sure, but I'm willing to accept that. Been very happy with battery life.

    I understand there are many sacrifices others don't want to make, but just wanted to throw that out there. :)
  • shorty lickens - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Its 699 at Best Buy this week, which makes it an easier pill to swallow. Of course I bet a lot of folks are waiting for the next generation which has better stats and a more reasonable price.

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