With a sleek, sturdy design and a crisp HD display, Toshiba's 12.5-inch Portege WT20 tablet makes a good first impression. Plus, it provides above-average battery life and solid performance for daily work tasks.
The problem is that competing slates — such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 — offer slightly better features for the same price. For the same $899, the Surface Pro 3 offers an adjustable kickstand, a handy digitizer stylus and a full-size USB port — two features the Portege WT20 lacks. On the other hand, Toshiba's tablet offers longer battery life and a slightly roomier display. But do those qualities make it a work tablet worth buying?
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The design of the Portege WT20 is more or less identical to the Portege Z20t, a more premium model that comes with a snap-on keyboard dock, a digitizer pen and a slightly speedier processor. Those features aside, the WT20 offers the same squared-off edges and the same black backside, which sports a nice brushed-metal effect.
Even though it's larger than the Surface Pro 3, the WT20 is actually a bit lighter, as it's made of lighter materials. The 12.5-inch tablet weighs 1.6 lbs., compared to 1.76 lbs. for the 12.2-inch Surface Pro 3. The smaller, 11-inch Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 matches the WT20 at 1.6 lbs.
The WT20's gorgeous display is definitely one of its high points. The 12.5-inch, 1080p panel looks crisp and bright, with vibrant colors. Plus, it has an anti-glare coating that helps to reduce glare from overhead office lights.
The screen is brighter than average, registering a solid 288 nits of brightness in our test. That beats the tablet average of 262 nits, though the Surface Pro 3 (298 nits) and the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 (341 nits) were brighter. Bright displays are good because they're easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight.
The lack of a full-size USB port feels almost unforgiveable on a 12.5-inch Windows tablet like the WT20. It makes simple tasks like transferring a file from one machine to the WT20 unnecessarily difficult. Competing slates like the Venue 11 Pro 7000 and the Surface Pro 3 do offer full-size USB ports.
There is a micro-USB port on the WT20's right edge, which will let you connect most peripherals if you don't mind dealing with an adapter. You also get a micro-HDMI port for connecting the slate to a larger monitor; that could let you use the WT20 as a desktop computer if you also pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Finally, there's a microSD card slot for expanding the slate's internal storage.
Performance and configurations
The WT20 comes in just a single hardware configuration, which includes an Intel Core M-5Y10c processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD).
Overall performance felt snappy. Apps opened and closed quickly, and multitasking was smooth. This isn't the machine for processor-intensive tasks like photo editing or heavy spreadsheet computation — the Core i5-powered Surface Pro 3 is better equipped for that — but it's more than fast enough for most daily tasks.
Plus, the Core M processor delivers that performance without a noisy, spinning fan inside. On the other hand, I noticed that the tablet was running a bit hot after streaming HD video for about 20 minutes.
Toshiba sells the WT20 as a stand-alone tablet, in contrast to the Z20T, which comes with a keyboard dock out of the box. However, the WT20 still comes with the same keyboard ports on its bottom edge, and Toshiba sells the same keyboard dock separately, so it is possible to pair the WT20 with a keyboard.
The $300 keyboard add-on is really pricey, but its sturdy hinge, snappy keys and spill-resistant design make it better for serious work than the Surface Pro 3's flimsy $130 Type Cover. Toshiba's keyboard also offers a pointing stick for accurate cursor control, and backlit keys for low-light typing. It also adds a variety of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports, a VGA video port, an HDMI port and an Ethernet port.
We didn't get a chance to test the keyboard dock for this review, but reviewers at our sister site Laptop Mag said that typing on it feels "pretty comfortable," though they noted that the tablet feels a bit top-heavy when docked.
The WT20 lacks not only an active style, but also a pen digitizer, which is necessary for pressure sensitivity. That's disappointing, especially since the Surface Pro 3 does include a digitizer and active pen.
The Portege Z20t also comes with an active stylus (as well as the snap-on keyboard dock), but it's also significantly more expensive than the WT20, starting at $1,399.
Of course, the WT20 is compatible with basic capacitive styluses that don't detect pressure. While I wouldn't recommend using one for serious note-taking, a basic stylus can make it easier to navigate around the Windows environment on a tablet. Remember that there's nowhere to stow a stylus on the WT20 when it's not in use, though.
The WT20 should last long enough to get you through the end of the workday. It ran for a solid 8 hours and 2 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That is slightly above the tablet category average of 7 hours and 58 minutes, and it also beats the Surface Pro 3's 7 hours and 42 minutes.
While Windows makes for a logical operating system on 2-in-1 hybrid systems, it might seem like an odd choice for a tablet. Fortunately, the recent launch of Windows 10 has made stand-alone Windows tablets like the WT20 feel a lot more practical.
That's because Windows 10 has a new Tablet mode that makes it easier to navigate on a touch-screen device. The modified interface features big, touch-friendly buttons; full-screen applications; and dedicated controls, including Home, Back, Search and Recent Apps buttons at the bottom of the display. In other words, it works a lot like an iPad or an Android tablet. It also includes Edge, a new, fully touch-optimized Web browser from Microsoft.
Windows 10 is still somewhat difficult to navigate in Desktop mode, especially without stylus support. Most users will want to stick to Tablet mode unless you pair the WT20 with a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 offers faster performance, as well as a built-in kickstand, a full-size USB port and a digitizer stylus — all features the WT20 lacks. On the other hand, the Surface has a smaller display, doesn't last as long on a charge and is a bit heavier.
Dell's Venue 11 Pro 7000 is more portable than the WT20, and it's compatible with Dell's Active Stylus, which is sold separately. Its battery life is a bit shorter though, and its 11-inch display is more cramped.
Toshiba's Portege WT20 is a nice tablet, with good battery life, a nice display, and a slim, sturdy design. Plus, its Core M processor provides good performance without the need for a spinning fan.
Still, I think the Surface Pro 3 gives you a better bang for your buck. For the same $899, you can get a Core i5 Surface Pro 3 with a built-in kickstand and top-notch stylus support, as well as a better selection of ports.
However, if you'd prefer slightly longer battery life and a roomier display to those perks, the Portege WT20 is worth a look.