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Grow Your Business Technology

Toshiba Portege Z30t Laptop Review: Is It Good for Business?

Toshiba Portege Z30t Laptop Review: Is It Good for Business? The Portege Z30t-B earns 4 out of 5 stars. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

The Toshiba Portege Z30t-B provides fast performance, solid security features and an impressive array of ports in a really lightweight package. You also get a durable design and a comfortable keyboard that make marathon work sessions a breeze. Unfortunately, the machine's relatively short battery life limits its potential as a travel companion, but only by a little.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.] 

At just 2.9 lbs., the Z30t-B is a lot lighter than it looks. I barely noticed it in my work bag, which is good news for commuters who need a machine that won't weigh them down. Rival machines are heftier, including the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (3.07 lbs.) and the Dell Latitude E7250 (3.4 lbs.).

And, fortunately, the Z30t-B manages to be lightweight without feeling flimsy. The machine sports a rigid magnesium-alloy body, and I didn't notice a hint of flex in the lid or keyboard deck. Toshiba also says the notebook was tested to withstand short drops and dings. The keyboard is also rated as spill resistant, which means it can withstand small amounts of moisture.

Otherwise, the Z30t-B is a nice-looking work machine. I like the notebook's gently rounded corners, as well as the classy brushed-metal effect on the lid.

The Z30t-B sports a sharp 1080p, 13.3-inch display that produces crisp text and provides plenty of room for productivity tasks. A matte finish on the screen helps ward off pesky reflections from overhead office lights.

Competing laptops have brighter displays, though. The Z30t-B tops out at 264 nits of brightness, which is dimmer than the Dell Latitude E7250 (360 nits) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X250 (387 nits). The ThinkPad Carbon was the dimmest of the bunch, at 243 nits. A brighter display would be easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight, but all of these screens are bright enough for typical indoor use.

I love the feel of the Z30t-B's keyboard. It has snappy feedback with each keystroke and a generous 1.5 millimeters of key travel, which is above average among thin-and-light systems like this one. As with most Toshiba keyboards, the individual keys are a bit shorter than average when measured from top to bottom, but the Z30t-B's layout still feels well spaced and comfortable to type on. 

The Z30t-B offers two different ways to control the mouse cursor. The 4 x 3.25-inch touchpad is relatively roomy and sports a smooth plastic finish that my finger glided over easily. Cursor control felt precise, and gestures like two-finger scrolling were responsive. The pad itself clicks in for left and right clicks.

There's also a pointing stick — located between the G, H and B keys — that lets you move the cursor precisely without removing your hands from the home row on the keyboard. Two mouse buttons, located above the touchpad, are meant to be used in conjunction with the pointing stick. Their placement is convenient, but they're a bit stiff.

The Z30t-B offers a better selection of ports than you'll find on other 3-lb. notebooks. The left edge has one USB 3.0 port, a full-size HDMI port and even a VGA port for connecting to older monitors and projectors. You won't find a VGA port on most competing machines. 

The right edge offers an SD card slot for expanding the notebook's internal storage, two additional USB 3.0 ports, and an Ethernet port for linking to wired Internet or secure work networks. You also get a lock slot for physically securing your laptop at your desk.

A fingerprint scanner, located just below the touchpad, gives the Z30t-B a nice security boost, letting you keep your work notebook locked down without fussing with a password screen every time you power on the machine. It's not the most convenient spot for the scanner, though; the X1 Carbon's scanner, located to the right of its keyboard, is a bit easier to reach.

The Z30t-B's scanner proved reliable and easy to use during my testing period, recognizing my print nearly every time. Toshiba included a fingerprint management utility on the notebook that allows for quick setup.

Competing laptops couldn't keep up with the Z30t-B on our performance tests. Our review unit came equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-5600U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage, which helped it rack up an impressive score of 6,401 on the Geekbench 3 benchmark, a test that measures overall performance. That score easily outpaces the scores from the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 (3,617) and the Dell Latitude E7250 (4,866), and it edges out the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6,110). 

The Z30t-B also came out on top in our spreadsheet test, which tasked the machine with matching 20,000 names with addresses in the OpenOffice spreadsheet editor. Toshiba's notebook completed the task in just 4 minutes and 15 seconds, which was faster than the Folio 1020 (7:11) and the Latitude E7250 (4:42).

The Z30t-B will last through the average business flight, but you might have to top off the battery at a charging station if you have a layover. The notebook died after a relatively modest 6 hours and 58 minutes on our battery-life test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. 

That's not terrible; HP's superportable EliteBook Folio 1020 fared worse, lasting just 6 hours and 47 minutes. But other rival notebooks performed much better, including the Dell Latitude E7250 (9:18), the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8:00) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X250 with extended battery (15:12).

The Z30t-B is available in a wide array of hardware configurations. The low-end model costs $849.99 and comes equipped with a 5th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and a nontouch 1366 x 768-pixel display. We didn't have a chance to test that model, but it should provide plenty of horsepower for daily work tasks.

The machine featured in this review is the top-end model, which comes equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-5600U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p touch display, all for $1,629.99. It blows away the competition on performance tests, but it's pricey.

Toshiba's Portege Z30t-B is a workhorse laptop in a surprisingly portable package. It's so light that you'll hardly notice it in your work bag, and its durable design means it can take a beating on long business trips. Plus, it offers faster performance, better security features and a bigger selection of ports than most other 3-lb. work notebooks.

The machine's biggest weakness is its relatively short battery life. If you plan to work away from the office with any frequency, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon or Dell's Latitude E7250 might be better options.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.] 

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.