Toshiba Portégé X30-D review: Thin and light, with plenty of connectivity

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  • Editors' rating
    8.7 Outstanding

Pros

  • All-day battery life
  • Two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Fingerprint, face and (optional) smartcard authentication

Cons

  • Only one touchscreen model
  • Lid section is too flexible

Toshiba's range of high-end business laptops has had a boost with the introduction of the Portégé X30-D. This 13.3-inch laptop is a step up in size from the 12.5-inch Portégé X20W-D. It's a more conventional system, lacking the 360-degree rotation and stylus of the smaller convertible device.

The slate-grey chassis has discreet reflective Toshiba branding in one corner, as befits a device aimed at professionals. Toshiba says the magnesium alloy chassis incorporates shock absorption features and has a honeycomb reinforcement system. Even so, the lid is distinctly flexible -- from memory it's the most bendy I've seen for a long time. There is also some flex in the wrist rest, although I did have to apply a fair amount of pressure to indent it. This is a laptop that will definitely need to be carried in a protective pouch.

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Toshiba's 13.3-inch Portégé X30-D is 16.4mm thick and weighs just over 1kg. It's powered by 7th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors and a touchscreen model is available, although it's not a convertible design.

Images: Toshiba

When you do carry the Portégé X30-D, its lightweight 1.05kg will be welcome. As you'd expect with a 13.3-inch laptop the overall chassis size is compact too, measuring 316mm wide by 227mm deep by 16.4mm thick.

Possibly, with a little more attention to screen bezels, the footprint could have been slightly reduced, or a larger screen accommodated. Unlike Dell with its XPS 13 and XPS 13 two-in-one laptops, Toshiba has not taken pains to minimise the bezel. Instead, the two side bezels are almost 10mm each in width, with the top bezel a generous 20mm and the bottom one closer to 30mm.

It's also worth noting that the lid has a distinctly old-fashioned arc of movement. It pushes back to around 130 degrees and no further.

The screen has a matte finish, which is generally preferred by professionals over reflective screens. Toshiba has kept the resolution relatively low at full-HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), as Lenovo did with its recent flagship 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Unlike Lenovo, Toshiba offers a touchscreen, although of the four available Portégé X30-D models on the UK website only the top-end £1,549 (ex. VAT) model is so equipped.

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One advantage of the deep upper screen bezel is that there's plenty of room for webcam, face recognition sensor, infrared LEDs, and microphones. Both Intel Authenticate and Windows Hello are supported for face sign-in, and there's also a fingerprint sensor in the touchpad. Between them these options allow corporate IT teams to configure password-free login.

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The backlit keyboard offers a good touch-typing platform, although some may prefer more responsive keys. You also get a pointing stick and a second set of buttons.

Image: Toshiba

The backlit keyboard has a relatively light touch. Although the keys are a little short of bounce for my taste, I had no trouble touch typing at full speed. The cursor keys are very small, and might be something of a problem for the stubby-fingered.

Toshiba's AccuPoint stick sits between the G, H, and B keys and is used with a pair of buttons that sit above the touchpad. It's arguably overkill if you've chosen the touchscreen model, but otherwise a nice-to-have feature.

All four models available on Toshiba's UK website at the time of writing run on Intel's 7th generation (Kaby Lake) processors; two are based on Core i7-7500U and two on Core i5-7200U CPUs. Key differences between the models revolve around RAM, SSD size, and processor.

Core specifications are:

  • Intel Core i5-7200U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 non touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Wi-Fi ac+agn, Bluetooth 4.2
    £1,129 (ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i5-7200U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 non touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Wi-Fi ac+agn, Bluetooth 4.2
    £1,229 (ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-7500U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 non touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Wi-Fi ac+agn, Bluetooth 4.2
    £1,299 (ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-7500U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Wi-Fi ac+agn, Bluetooth 4.2
    £1,549 (ex. VAT)

There is a decent set of connectivity options, headed by a pair of USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support for data, charging, and DisplayPort.

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Either of the system's two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports can be used for charging, leaving the other one free for connectivity duties. The smartcard reader is an optional feature.

Image: Toshiba

The presence of two USB-C ports deals with a criticism I levelled at the Portégé X20W-D, whose single USB-C port becomes unavailable for other purposes when the laptop is charging. Here either port can be used for charging, with the other one free for other uses.

There's also a single USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a MicroSD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The optional smartcard reader, for added security, was present on my review unit too. Mobile broadband is not currently an option, although Toshiba says this will be available soon.

Toshiba employs its new hybrid air-cooling system, which uses two pairs of ducts to cool the CPU and other components separately, one of each pair pulling air in, the other spewing it out. This arrangement seems efficient in keeping the system cool.

Twin speakers sit on the front of the chassis at the point where it slopes upwards towards the front lip, minimising the chance of muffling by a desk. There's plenty of volume and a good amount of bass, providing enough quality and depth to reach across a conference table for presentations, for example.

Toshiba claims up to 14.5 hours for the three-cell Li-ion battery. My anecdotal testing suggests this might be difficult to achieve in the real world, but that a full eight-hour day's computing may well be feasible for many users.

In one working session, for example, with wi-fi on and workloads involving writing, web browsing, and audio streaming, I depleted a full battery to precisely 50 percent in 4.5 hours. In this session I manually set the screen to always on, and Battery Saver mode set its brightness to 40 percent, which was good enough for me to work in an indoor office.

Conclusions

The Toshiba Portégé X30-D doesn't come cheap, especially if you want a touchscreen, access to a good-sized SSD, and a Core i7 processor. Considering that this is a laptop at the top end of Toshiba's range, it really could do with more robust build quality, especially in the lid.

Still, the Portégé X30-D offers all-day battery life, impressive audio and plenty of ports and connectors. And security-conscious users will be drawn to the system's combination of fingerprint, face and smartcard authentication.

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