Toshiba Portégé X30T-E review: A solid 2-in-1 detachable with excellent connectivity

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  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • High-quality design and build
  • Optional LTE mobile broadband
  • Two batteries
  • Legacy ports

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • No USB-C Thunderbolt ports
  • On the heavy side for a 13.3-inch laptop

Toshiba's Portégé X30T-E is a 2-in-1 detachable that takes an unusual approach to this format: it puts most of its ports and connectors in the keyboard dock rather than the tablet section, and uses a kickstand to help hold the screen at the desired angle when used in tablet mode or with the optional travel keyboard.

There are currently two models available on Toshiba's UK website, starting at £1,199 (inc. VAT, or £999.17 ex. VAT) for the X30T-E-112, rising to £1,899 (inc. VAT, or £1,582.50 ex. VAT) for the X30T-E-13H model reviewed here. Both come with the keyboard dock and a stylus included in the price.

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Toshiba is happy to explore different 2-in-1 laptop formats to help it reach the widest audience possible. In the past, I've looked at full detachables like the Stylistic Q738 and 360-degree convertibles like the Tablet Lifebook P728.

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The Toshiba Portégé X30T-E has a 13.3-inch FHD screen, comes with a keyboard dock and a stylus, and weighs 1.39kg all told -- 799g for the tablet and 600g for the keyboard.

Image: Toshiba

The Portégé X30T-E is a 2-in-1 that needs to be used in laptop mode if you want to take advantage of the keyboard dock's ports and connectors. However, the key computing components are in the tablet section, so it can also function independently if required.

In laptop mode, the 13.3-inch X30T-E measures 316mm wide by 217mm deep by 22.1mm thick and weighs 1.39kg. The tablet section comes in at 316mm by 207mm by 9.1mm and 799g. The overall weight, which is a little more than I would expect from such a compact laptop, can be put down to a couple of factors.

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The keyboard dock has a robust connection to the tablet section, the two units communicating via the tablet's USB-C port.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

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The tablet section has a very solid kickstand that does a good job of holding the screen at the required angle in tablet mode. However, it's not required in laptop mode, as the keyboard dock and tablet sections are held securely by a number of metal pins and hooks, and linked via a USB-C connection. This robust hinge mechanism contributes to the keyboard dock's solid 600g weight.

If you want to use a keyboard but don't need the dock's full range of ports and connectors, you can opt for a much lighter 390g travel keyboard. This will cost £109 (inc. VAT, or £90.83 ex. VAT) and will require the use of the kickstand. I can't comment any further on the travel keyboard as it wasn't part of my review sample.

The keyboard dock is robustly designed and comfortable to use. The key design and feel is no different than I would expect on a standard laptop. There's a lot of travel and the keys bounce back nicely when pressed -- and if you're interested, typing sounds more 'thunky' than 'clicky'. The arrow keys are necessarily rather squeezed and the space bar is a little narrow, but Toshiba has managed to fit in a double-height, extra-wide enter key, and overall I was quite happy touch typing at my normal speed. The keyboard is backlit, toggled by the Fn-Z key combination.

Beneath the keyboard there is a shallow wrist rest and a touchpad with embedded control buttons and a silver strip delineating the bottom of the touchpad. There is a fingerprint sensor on the back of the tablet section, where it can be used for login regardless of usage mode. Above the screen is a standard 720p webcam and an IR camera for Windows Hello authentication. There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the back of the tablet.

The 13.3-inch touch-screen sits inside relatively wide bezels, particularly along the top and bottom edges. This is a necessary consequence of tablet mode capability, as no-one wants to accidentally activate the touch-screen when simply trying to hold the tablet.

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There are batteries in both the keyboard dock and the tablet. In laptop mode, the keyboard battery drains first, conserving the tablet's battery for keyboard-free usage.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Like Toshiba's other business laptops, the Portégé X30T-E uses a non-reflective LCD panel, which is very comfortable to work on. The full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution is fine for viewing web pages, video content and documents. There are twin speaker grilles on the short edges of the tablet, which pump out sound of reasonable quality to a decent volume.

I've already noted that the tablet section houses front and rear cameras, a fingerprint sensor and stereo speakers. It also provides the main on/off switch and volume controls. The speakers can also be toggled by the Fn-Escape key combination, and their volume adjusted using the Fn key and the 3 and 4 number keys.

The tablet section also has a 3.5mm headset jack and a single USB-C port with support for data transfer, power and DisplayPort. The Micro-SIM card slot for the optional LTE mobile broadband is here. You can also configure the Portégé X30T-E with smartcard support -- the slot is on the back of the tablet section.

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The keyboard dock has VGA and HDMI ports on left, and two USB 3.0, RJ-45 Ethernet and one USB-C port for charging on the right.

Images: Toshiba

The keyboard dock provides a full-size HDMI port, full-size RJ-45 Ethernet and that rarest of beasts -- a legacy VGA connector, as well as two USB 3.0 ports and a USB-C port, which is used for charging. Toshiba's penchant for supporting legacy connections is clear here, although it would have also been nice to see at least one USB-C Thunderbolt port as well.

Two models of the Portégé X30T-E were available on Toshiba's UK website at the time of writing, both running 8th-generation Intel processors. My review sample had a Core i7-8550U with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. The entry-level Portégé X30T-E-112 runs on a Core i5-8250U with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

There are two batteries -- one in the tablet and one in the keyboard. Working in laptop mode drains the battery in the keyboard section first, keeping the tablet available for independent operation for as long as possible.

Toshiba's claimed battery life for the X30T-E-13H review model is 'up to' 14 hours and 15 minutes, but I'm doubtful about achieving this in real-world usage. In one test session I worked for three hours in laptop mode, using an online word processing tool and streaming some music, with the screen brightness set to its default of 40 percent (which was perfectly fine for this kind of use).

During this time the battery system depleted by 24 percent -- 23 percent from the keyboard battery and just one percent from the tablet, which I removed once or twice for very short periods. By this reckoning, a light usage pattern would give battery life of around 12 hours. Lowering screen brightness to extend battery life isn't really viable -- below 40 percent, it becomes too dark to work with comfortably.

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The optional travel keyboard costs £109 (inc. VAT) and weighs 390g compared to the keyboard dock's 600g. You don't get the latter's array of ports, though, and will have to use the kickstand in laptop mode.

Image: Toshiba

Conclusions

The Portégé X30T-E is a clever take on the 2-in-1 laptop style. The physical connection between the two sections is robust, and legacy connections on the keyboard dock will endear this device to many users. However, it could do with more USB-C ports, and battery life could be better.

2-in-1 devices to carry PC market in 2018: IDC The latest data from IDC's PC tracker projects that shipments of 2-in-1s will grow by more than 9 percent this year. Read more: https://zd.net/2LFMGwJ

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