With a slightly improved keyboard, the Tecra Z40t-B would be a near-perfect work machine. As is, the 14-inch notebook offers almost everything workers could want, including solid security, stellar battery life and a reasonably portable design. I also love its vibrant display and speedy performance. So, does this $1,479 laptop have what it takes to stand up to top-tier work machines like Lenovo's ThinkPad T450s?
It's far from the lightest 14-inch laptop you'll find, but the Z40t is still sleek enough to be a decent travel companion. At 3.7 lbs., it's right in between the Lenovo ThinkPad T40s (3.8 lbs.) and the Dell Latitude E7450 (3.6 lbs.). The HP EliteBook 1040 G2 is significantly more portable than any of those systems, though, at just 3.32 lbs. Regardless, the Z40t won't weigh you down too much on your daily commute.
The notebook's matte-silver paint job is understated and professional. I also like the subtle brushed-metal effect on the lid.
Workers will also appreciate the Z40t's durable construction. It's made from magnesium alloy, which feels almost as lightweight as plastic but is much tougher. The notebook's case is extremely rigid, which is a big perk if you plan to lug it around on business trips.
The Z40t is also outfitted with shock absorbers that protect the hard drive, display and other components from short drops and dings. Toshiba also says that the lid's hinge has been tested to maintain rigidity for five years or more, depending on your use.
The Z40t was also made to fend off moisture, with a spill-resistant keyboard that protects against splashes, and insulation that protects the internal circuitry from water damage.
A fingerprint scanner — embedded just below the Z40t's touchpad — provides a nice security boost, letting you unlock the notebook with a quick swipe of your finger. The scanner proved to be reliable during my testing time, accurately recognizing my prints each time I swiped. Setup is easy, and you can register up to 10 fingers at once.
The Z40t also comes equipped with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) on its motherboard that keeps your data and passwords encrypted at the hardware level.
Brighter and more colorful than the screens on competing notebooks, the Z40t's display is one of its best assets. The 14-inch, full-HD (1920 x 1080-pixel) panel is a joy to work on.
Our tests showed that the Z40t display produces a wider range of the color gamut than competing notebooks like the Latitude E7450 and ThinkPad T450s. It's also the brightest of the bunch, which makes it easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight. Plus, text looks nice and crisp.
Like most business-class notebooks, the Z40t comes with a matte finish on the display, which helps fend off annoying reflections from overhead office lights.
A little extra key travel would go a long way toward making the Z40t more comfortable to type on. The keys offer about 1.22 millimeters of travel, which is shorter than the 1.5-mm average for laptop computers. Not everyone will mind, but I personally much prefer the desktoplike feel of the keyboard on the ThinkPad T450s. On the bright side, the Z40t's keys are nice and snappy, which helps make up for their shallow design.
The other issue is that the face of each key is slightly shorter than average when measured from top to bottom (13 mm compared to the 15.5-mm average). The result is a keyboard that feels slightly crowded. The condensed layout is typical for Toshiba laptops, and hardly a deal breaker, but serious touch typists might want to look at a laptop with a more conventional keyboard.
Touchpad and pointing stick
The Z40t offers two distinct ways to move the on-screen cursor. The touchpad felt nice and responsive, and gestures like two-finger scrolling were reliable. The right- and left-click buttons are built into the pad, and click down quietly.
A blue pointing stick is embedded between the G, H and B keys. It's not for everyone, but I like it because it gives you precise control over the cursor without needing to move your hands from home row on the keyboard.
All the ports a worker could want are included on the Z40t. The right edge of the machine includes two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet port for connecting to wired Internet or secure office networks. The right edge, meanwhile, houses an extra USB 3.0 port, HDMI and VGA ports for connecting the Z40t to a monitor or projector, and a memory card reader.
Business travelers will appreciate the Z40t's impressive longevity. The notebook ran for 8 hours and 23 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That beats out most competitors, including the ThinkPad T450s (7:31) and the EliteBook 1040 G2 (7:11) as well as the category average (7:39). Dell's Latitude E7450 offers comparable battery life (8:36).
If you absolutely need the longest battery life, the ThinkPad T450s can run for an epic 15 hours and 26 minutes with its extended battery attached. The trade-off is that the extended battery adds a half-pound of extra weight, making the notebook much heavier than the Tecra Z40t.
I observed swift performance from the Z40t, though it's held back a bit by the lack of an SSD. It's powered by a zippy Core i7 Processor with 8GB of RAM.
Performance was very good for everyday tasks. I never noticed a hiccup, even during heavy multitasking that involved streaming HD video from YouTube while editing a spreadsheet, with about a dozen tabs open in the background in my Firefox Web browser.
The Z40t out-sped the competition on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. It scored an impressive 6,427, which beats the Latitude E7450 (5,326), ThinkPad T450s (5,993) and EliteBook 1040 (6,408).
But the notebook's 7,200-rpm spinning hard drive lagged a bit behind. The Z40t proved to be the slowest of the bunch in our file transfer test, which measures how fast a system can copy 4.97GB of mixed-media files.
Toshiba sells the Z40t in a couple of different hardware configurations. My review unit comes with a 5th Generation Intel Core i7-5600U Processor with 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a 1080p touch screen for $1,479.
A slightly more affordable variation is also available with a 4th Generation Intel Core i5-4310U CPU and 8GB of RAM for $1,389.
The Z40t runs on a relatively clean installation of Windows 10, but a handful of nice productivity apps do come preloaded. You get Evernote and OneNote for taking notes, and OneDrive for saving your files to the cloud. A free 30-day trial for Microsoft Office 365 — which includes cloud-enabled versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint — is also packed in, but you'll have to pay for a subscription to keep using the suite after the trial period ends.
With a superior 14-inch display, Toshiba's Tecra Z40t-B makes a great first impression. It also offers top-notch business credentials, with a reliable security scanner, a durable build and plenty of power.
On the other hand, the keyboard is a bit on the shallow side. Plus, it's disappointing that the notebook doesn't come equipped with a speedy SSD, but the trade-off is that you get more storage space on the Z40t than on competing machines.
Shortcomings aside, the Z40t remains an excellent option for mobile workers.