I’m discussing the keyboard and trackpad before writing about performance because with today’s laptops, those features are more noticeable than small differences in processor power. Any decent laptop will let you browse the Internet, watch videos, play casual games and do some light photo or video editing. And while spec junkies may scoff at the Core i3 processor inside Toshiba’s Portege Z835–most others are using Core i5 or i7 processors–the difference doesn’t amount to much in real-world use. None of these laptops are able to play Battlefield 3 or other modern PC games. If that’s what you’re after, you need a different kind of product. The Portege Z835 is just fine for typical laptop use, and it also performed well as a desktop replacement, with my dual monitors plugged in through HDMI and RGB cables.
Toshiba claims that the Portege Z835 gets eight hours of battery life, but I couldn’t make it happen on 62.5 percent brightness. Expect about six hours of basic web browsing and word processing, and maybe five hours if you’re watching a lot of video.
So where does Toshiba’s Portege Z835 go wrong? The main problem is its display, which washes out at even the slightest vertical off-angle. Change your posture while using this laptop, and you’ll probably have to tilt the screen to bring everything back into view. It’s a nuisance. Also, the Portege’s fan produces a high-pitched whir that’s quite noticeable in a quiet room and will drive you crazy if you think about it too much. The bloatware situation isn’t too bad on this laptop–most of it is first-party tools could come in handy, such as a web camera application–but there’s some anti-virus trialware on board from Norton, which I promptly removed and replaced with Microsoft’s free Security Essentials software. Google’s Chrome browser is pre-installed, which I see as a not-entirely-necessary positive.
If Ultrabooks are the future of laptops, a machine like Toshiba’s Portege Z835 will some day seem average. Its viewing angles are narrow, its fan is noisy and its design is thicker and cheaper than some of the competition. But compared to most present-day Windows machines, the Portege Z835’s slim figure, smooth trackpad, excellent keyboard and ample ports make it a standout laptop, and it’s cheaper than most other Ultrabooks at $899. For early Ultrabook adopters, the Portege Z835 is worth considering.