Toshiba does Acer $100 better, offering the Z835, a Best Buy exclusive, for $800. Its low price is matched by its light weight. At two pounds, 6.6 ounces, it beats all the others here by a good half-pound. But the Z835 also looks and feels the cheapest of the bunch. Its construction seems less solid—particularly the lid, which has a disconcerting amount of flex.
The Z835’s dark-gray and black color scheme is peppered with chrome accents that look a bit dated. All the keys on the Z835’s island keyboard are normal width, but they are also slightly squat, which takes getting used to, as does the shallow travel of all keyboards of this ilk. The keyboard’s backlighting is a surprising feature at this price—and not one currently found on the more expensive Ultrabook models. A traditional touchpad of decent size with discrete right and left buttons stands out among the other Ultrabooks’ clickpads.
The Z835’s hardware specs are another reflection of its low price. The centerpiece is a 1.4GHz Core i3-2367M, which doesn’t benefit from any Turbo boost whatsoever. This renders the Z835 the slowest in the benchmarks of all four Ultrabooks, and even slower than our elderly zero-point, except in Quake 4, thanks to Sandy Bridge graphics.
Only the Portégé Z835 offers a backlit keyboard—a standard feature of the MacBook Air.
The Z835 also skimps on storage capacity, offering just 128GB. It’s full-SSD, but that’s not saying much. The Toshiba NAND flash coupled with a Toshiba controller mustered just 187MB/s sequential reads in CrystalDiskMark—half the speed and then some of the other two SSDs in this roundup. More pathetic still, the Z835’s sequential write speed of 49.23 is 40 percent slower than that of the HDD in Acer’s S3.
On the brighter side, the Z835 offers the most generous array of ports, with full-size VGA in addition to full-size HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports plus one USB 3.0, and an Ethernet port—a rarity in this roundup.
The Z835’s glossy 1366x768 screen isn’t spectacular, but it reproduced pictures and videos without noticeable flaws and the viewing angle is thankfully wider than that of the Acer S3. In our battery rundown test, the Z835 played a continuously looping video for close to five hours. It took about three hours to completely recharge. It booted to Windows in 24 seconds, which isn’t bad.
Even more so than Acer’s S3, the Z835 deserves credit for offering such a svelte and exceedingly portable form factor for its price. But reaching that price entailed compromises—a few too many, in our opinion, to grant this product more than a mild endorsement.