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Toshiba Portégé X30-E-12H review: A lightweight, compact business ultraportable

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  • Editors' rating
    8.7 Outstanding

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
  • Two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Up to 1TB of SSD storage

Cons

  • Lid section is still too flexible

Toshiba's Portégé X30 business ultrabook has had an upgrade since I examined it in the middle of last year. Back then it was the Portégé X30-D, now it's the Portégé X30-E. This year's models sport 8th-generation Intel Core i7 or i5 processors, and up to 1TB of SSD storage.

Since the Portégé X30-E is essentially a specifications and performance upgrade, key features around design and usability remain largely unchanged from last year.

As with the X30-D, the 2018 version is generally impressive on the hardware front -- except for one recurring issue: the lid is extremely flimsy. With almost no pressure at all, it's possible to bend the lid alarmingly far. In everyday use, I'd be concerned about robustness in this area.

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The Portégé X30-E series has the same dimensions and 1.05kg starting weight as last year's 'D' model, but uses Intel's latest 8th-generation Core i7 and i5 processors.

Image: Toshiba

By contrast, the flexibility I found in the wrist rest of last year's model seems to have been dealt with, and the whole of the base section is quite tough.

Toshiba has packed this 13.3-inch laptop into a reasonably lightweight and compact chassis measuring 316mm by 227mm with a thickness of 16.4mm, while the starting weight of 1.05kg is just shy of the magic sub-1kg mark. These are the same dimensions as last year's model, but I'd accept a few grams extra in exchange for a more robust lid.

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Silver branding and hinges are the only elements that disturb an otherwise grey livery.

Image: Toshiba

The lid is grey with a lightly brushed finish, with silver hinges and Toshiba's brand mark adding the only splashes of colour. This laptop's design is entirely businesslike.

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The screen tilts back to a maximum of about 130 degrees, so if you like more flexible devices with full 360-degree screen rotation, you'll need to look elsewhere.

There's plenty of room above the screen for infrared cameras as well as a standard webcam, so this laptop supports Windows Hello authentication. The side bezels are 10mm wide, so there's no truck with edge-to-edge design here, which makes the Portégé X30-E look somewhat old-fashioned.

The screen itself has a matte finish, which makes it a delight to work with in situations where reflections can be distracting. Brightness at the 100 percent setting could be a bit higher, although I found it acceptable when set at 40 percent, which is the default for working on battery power.

Not all variants of the Portégé X30-E have a touch screen, although my review sample did, and it was very responsive. The screen resolution on all X30-E variants at Toshiba's UK website at the time of writing was 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. That's not exactly groundbreaking, but perfectly acceptable.

The keyboard is quite comfortable to use, and I had no trouble touch-typing accurately at my maximum speed after a while. However, the right-side non-character keys such as square brackets and hash are a little narrow, while the cursor keys are particularly small; these take a bit of getting used to.

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The keyboard provides a good typing platform, although there's a learning curve with some of the smaller keys.

Image: Toshiba

The keyboard backlight has just one brightness level, but you can configure this to any of three different intensities in the Toshiba Settings utility, which also provides access to several other configuration options. I prefer toggling through brightness levels at the point of use, and this arrangement seems over-engineered.

There's a very responsive touchpad with physical buttons above it. The pad itself has built-in clicking, and the physical buttons are really designed for use with the blue AccuPoint stick between the G, H, and B keys. Between these, the touchscreen and an external mouse, there are plenty of options for interacting with this laptop. There's a fingerprint sensor built into the top left corner of the touchpad -- a location that some users might find annoying.

As far as ports and connectors are concerned, the highlight is a pair of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with data transfer, DisplayPort, and charging support. These sit side by side on the right edge, and are flanked by a HDMI port and a MicroSD card slot. On the left edge is this laptop's only USB 3.0 port, along with the 3.5mm headset jack. My review unit also had a smartcard reader.

My review unit, the Portégé X30-E 12H, is not currently available on Toshiba's UK website. It's the top-end model, and Toshiba told me it will cost £1,699 (ex. VAT). The specifications listed below are taken from the laptop itself.

  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-12H, Intel Core i7-8650U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
    £1,699 (ex. VAT)

There are four other models listed online, without pricing information at the time of writing, but I have been told the range will start at £799 (ex. VAT). All include Intel 8th Generation processors:

  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-11U, Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10G, Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10U, Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620,8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10D, Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Battery life is quoted as 'up to' a rather precise 14 hours 25 minutes for two of the above models, and 10 hours 10 minutes for the other two. I doubt that most users will manage either of these figures, and some may even struggle to achieve a day's worth of computing away from mains power. Even with moderate workloads -- document creation, music streaming, and web browsing -- I drained 25 percent of the life from my review model's battery in one two-hour session.

The Harman Kardon speakers sit on the underside of the chassis towards the front. They deliver a reasonable amount of volume, but are somewhat lacking in bass tones. Nothing unusual there.

Conclusions

The Portégé X30-E is a case of 'more of the same' from Toshiba. Essentially a specification upgrade on last year's X30-D model, the flexible lid issue still grates.

It's difficult to assess value for money across the range given the absence of pricing details, but I would have expected a stronger chassis design and better battery life from my top-end review unit, given its £1,699 (ex. VAT) price.

Still, Toshiba fans will no doubt appreciate the familiarity of what's on offer here -- a lightweight, compact, and up-to-date business ultraportable.

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