Dynabook Portégé X30L-J-13R review: A sub-kilogram ultraportable with good connectivity

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  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good

Pros

  • Extremely light
  • Ethernet port
  • Privacy cover for webcam
  • Rapid charging
  • Mobile broadband option

Cons

  • Noisy keyboard and fan
  • FHD resolution only
  • Screen ePrivacy filter only on top-end model
  • ePrivacy filter does not prevent over-the-shoulder viewing
  • Battery life could be better

Dynabook's Portégé range is billed as ultralight, compact and powerful. Ideal, in other words, for the mobile professional. The Portégé X30W-J, which we reviewed in February, is the world's lightest 13.3-inch 360° convertible laptop, according to Dynabook. The Portégé X30L-J examined here shares the same screen size and is also extremely light, but is not a convertible. It runs on an 11th-generation Intel processors, and there are three models available in the UK at the time of writing. I was sent the top-end 13R to review, which costs £1,289 (ex. VAT, or $1,546.80 inc. VAT). The entry-level UK model costs £969 (ex. VAT, or £1,612.80 inc. VAT). 

There are also three Portégé X30L-J models in the US, with prices starting at $1,329.99 and topping out at $1,749.99. 

The design of Dynabook's Portégé laptops is unmistakable. The Dynabook logo is writ large in silver on the lid, which Dynabook says is Mystic Blue in colour (although to me it looks black). Open it up and the inside is almost entirely Mystic Blue (which still looks black), with the exception of a silver frame around the lozenge-shaped on/off button sitting above the keyboard towards the left, white on-key symbols, the device logo beneath the screen and the bright blue of the standard Dynabook AccuPoint pointing stick. 

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The 13.3-inch Portégé X30L-J-13R runs on 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage. The screen is an FHD IPS panel with 470 nits maximum brightness, or 400 nits in the top-end model with an ePrivacy filter.

Images: Dynabook

This is an incredibly light laptop, weighing in at just 906g. This makes it even lighter than the 989g Dynabook Portégé X30W-J, and impressively below the magic 1kg mark; it's also a gram lighter than Lenovo's latest ultrabook, the ThinkPad X1 Nano

The Portégé X30L-J's desktop footprint of 306mm wide by 210mm deep is compact, and while 17.9mm might seem rather thick, it's easily forgiven because this is that rare beast -- an ultraportable laptop with a full-size RJ-45 Ethernet port on-board. 

The Portégé X30L-J chassis is made of tough magnesium alloy, and the laptop has undergone a range of MIL-STD 810G tests. Still, the lid is less rigid than some, and I could flex it quite easily. I would always want to carry this laptop in a sleeve just to feel super-confident that it's well protected. 

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The IR webcam supports Windows Hello facial recognition, and has a privacy slider.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

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The screen is an FHD (1920 x 1080, 165.6ppi) IPS panel with a matte finish and maximum brightness of 400nits. The lid will hinge back to lie flat on a desk, but no further. There are no touchscreen options for this laptop. The screen sits in relatively large bezels on the short edge, with a larger upper bezel housing the webcam, complete with sliding privacy cover, and a large lower bezel. 

If you're looking for a display that stretches to the far reaches of its frame, or which uses the maximum height possible, you will be disappointed. The screen-to-body ratio is a moderate 75.9%. Dynabook gives ground here to some of its rivals, whose smaller bezels, taller screens and higher resolutions make for more compelling viewing experiences. As well as the ThinkPad X1 Nano, take a look at the nearly bezel-free Dell XPS 13 9310 by way of comparison. 

Viewing angles are reasonably good in the vertical plane, but they're poor on the horizontal plane. This might suit mobile pros concerned about people sitting nearby -- on a train or in a coffee shop, for example -- and glancing over to read screen content. However, deliberate screen-sharing activity will be compromised. 

On top of this unintended privacy, my top-end review unit has an ePrivacy filter, which is toggled by simultaneously tapping the Fn and D keys. When active, this makes the screen completely unviewable by people to the left or right of the user, although someone standing behind and looking over your shoulder can see everything via a head-on view.  

The privacy mode has an effect on maximum screen brightness, with my review unit topping out at 400 nits -- the two models without the ePrivacy filter go up to 470 nits. Even so, working in my home office, with a window to my left, I was perfectly happy with brightness set at around 60%. 

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The backlit keyboard is comfortable to type on, but rather loud. There's an AccuPoint pointing stick with two buttons above the touchpad, which has an embedded fingerprint reader.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The keyboard is in typical Dynabook style with an AccuPoint pointing stick sitting between the G, H and B keys, and a pair of physical buttons above the touchpad designed for use with it. There's no touchscreen here, and some will prefer the pointing stick over the touchpad or an external mouse for cursor control. The keyboard backlight is powerful and works well. 

The key action is bouncy and comfortable. The Enter key is large and easy to hit accurately, and I had no trouble touch-typing at speed. Those who want a quiet keyboard might consider looking elsewhere though: this one is very clacky. 

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The touchpad is responsive and large, with embedded buttons at its bottom. There's a fingerprint sensor embedded into its top left corner. As noted earlier, Dynabook has opted for a lozenge-shaped on/off button above the keyboard on the left, and a neater design choice might have been to embed the fingerprint sensor here. The IR webcam also supports Windows Hello for authentication via face recognition.  

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Ports on the Portégé X30L-J-13R: 2x USB-C 3.1 Thunderbolt 4 (with Power Delivery & DisplayPort), HDMI-out, USB-A 3.1, 3.5mm combo audio in/out (top); MicroSD card slot, USB-A 3.1 (with Power Off-and-Charge), RJ-45 Ethernet (above).

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

Dynabook provides plenty of ports and connectors on this ultraportable. On the right edge some models offer a SmartCard slot, and there's a MicroSD card reader, USB-A port and a full-size RJ-45 Ethernet port. If you opt for mobile broadband, then the SIM card slot goes on this edge too. The left edge has a second USB-A port, a full size HDMI connector, a 3.5mm headset jack and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, either one of which can be used to charge the laptop. For wireless connectivity there's Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), plus optional LTE mobile broadband. 

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The cooling fan, which vents at the rear, works well but is distractingly noisy.

Image: Sandra Vogel

One feature that's detrimental to usability is the fan, which is noisy and very distracting. The fan does its job, though, keeping the laptop nice and cool, with the long grille along the back edge of the chassis the only area giving off any noticeable heat.  

There are three off-the-shelf iterations of the Portégé X30L-J in the UK. My review unit was the top of the range specification.  

Portégé X30L-J-13R (as reviewed) 
Intel Core i7-1165G7, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixel IPS screen with ePrivacy filter, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD 
£1,289 (ex. VAT) 

Portégé X30L-J-13P 
Intel Core i7-1165G7, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixel IPS screen (no privacy mode), Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD 
£1,049 (ex. VAT) 

Portégé X30L-J-10E 
Intel Core i5-1135G7, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixel IPS screen (no privacy mode), Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD 
£969 (ex. VAT) 

Dynabook says the Portégé X30L-J-13R will provide up to 10 hours 20 minutes of battery life. With the battery fully charged I worked my usual regime of browsing, some streaming, and writing into various web apps. After three hours the battery had fallen to 60%, suggesting a total of around 7.5 hours. So under my personal work regime a short working day on battery power should be achievable, but a lengthy 8-hour-plus working day might prove challenging. 

There is good news in that Dynabook claims its rapid charging will deliver 6 hours of battery life in 30 minutes. At the end of one work session, with the battery at 53%, I tried a half-hour charge and the battery rose to 64% in 15 minutes, and 74% in 30 minutes. This kind of power boost might be just what you need to get out of battery trouble. 

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Image: Dynabook

Conclusions 

Dynabook's laptops are built to a tried-and-tested design, with the familiar AccuPoint system a regular feature of the Portégé range. The Portégé X30L-J is among the lightest ultraportables I've reviewed, yet there's no shortage of ports and connectors. The presence of a full-size Ethernet port is a real rarity, and for some it will be very welcome indeed.  

The screen privacy mode works well on the horizontal plane but barely at all on the vertical, so over-the-shoulder viewing of your secret stuff is definitely possible. However, the ePrivacy filter is only available on the top-end model. That might not matter to everyone, but the noisy keyboard and fan probably will. 

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