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Toshiba Portégé Z20t-B-107 review: Detachable-screen ultrabook

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  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent
  • $1,399.99

Pros

  • Thin, light ultrabook
  • Good build quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Reversible, detachable lid/tablet section
  • Full-size VGA and Ethernet ports

Cons

  • 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
  • Moderate screen resolution
  • Higher-spec models are expensive

Toshiba's Portégé Z20t-B is a 12.5-inch convertible ultrabook that's targeted firmly at well-received products such asLenovo's Yoga 3 Pro. Unlike Lenovo's product, the Portégé Z20t-B's screen and keyboard detach, allowing you to work in true tablet mode.

With prices starting at £830 (inc. VAT, £691.67 ex. VAT) and rising to £1,822 (inc. VAT, £1,518.33 ex. VAT) across four preconfigured models on Toshiba's UK website, you need to select carefully to get the best value for money, but whatever option you choose this is a small, light ultrabook offering up to 9 hours of tablet-only battery life and 17 hours in laptop mode. Our review unit was the Z20t-B-107 model, which costs £1,338.35 (inc. VAT, £1,115.29 ex. VAT).

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The Portege Z20t-B has a 12.5-inch screen that detaches to facilitate tablet-mode operation. Image: Toshiba

The Portégé Z20t-B is thin and light, although at 1.51kg it's a fair way over the notional 1kg informal benchmark for an ultrabook. However, considering both the lid/tablet and base/keyboard sections have separate batteries, this seems acceptable. The tablet on its own weighs 0.73kg. This fairly even weight distribution (0.73/0.78kg) means that the keyboard section remains quite stable if you're prodding at the touchscreen in ultrabook mode.

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The Z20t-B's screen can be reversed. Note also that the system includes full-size Ethernet and VGA ports. Image: Toshiba

Toshiba has not compromised by using miniature legacy VGA and Ethernet ports and dongles. The full-size VGA port sits towards the back of the left edge, with the RJ-45 Ethernet port opposite it on the right edge. The base expands to accommodate the depth these ports require. This means the computer's maximum thickness is 21mm, tapering to 18.5mm. Cleverly, the positioning of these two ports opposite one another gives a nicely symmetrical appearance to the required moulding on the base. We appreciate the attention to detail.

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The chassis is almost entirely black, with just a strip of matte silver along the back edge and a reflective silver Toshiba logo in one corner of the lid. It's a classic Portégé look, with pretty solid build quality throughout.

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The Z20t-B with the screen reversed, in 'presentation' mode. Image: Toshiba

The lid (which, remember, doubles as a removable, standalone tablet) is well made with only a moderate amount of flex. However, when trying to flex the lid we found that the right short edge of the frame sometimes popped out of its housing. It popped back in easily enough, but this might indicate a medium- or long-term construction issue.

The screen is secured in place by a couple of solid mechanical latches whose release catch sits on the base section, and by two additional long metal pins. In the centre of the docking mechanism are two connectors that provide the essential computing connection between screen and lid.

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The screen docking/release mechanism is robust. Image: Toshiba

Although the screen clearly doesn't swivel, you can connect it to face outwards, giving you a range of different orientation options -- including, if required, the 'tent' style that sees the Portégé Z20t-B stand on its two thin front edges.

The 12.5-inch IPS screen has an office-friendly matte finish and good viewing angles. All the four models have a native full-HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels (176 pixels per inch, or ppi) - arguably somewhat limited these days, if far from unusual. By contrast, the aforementioned 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro has a native resolution of 3,200 by 1,800 pixels (276ppi).

Thanks to its 12.5-inch screen, the Portégé Z20t-B's chassis is smaller than the 13.3-inch Yoga 3 Pro's (309 x 215.2 x 18.5-21.0mm versus 330 x 228 x 12.8mm).

The tablet section measures a neat and tidy 309 by 199.9 by 8.8mm and, as noted earlier, weighs 730g. This compares well with other large-format tablets such as Samsung's 12.2-inch (2,560 x 1,600) Android-based Galaxy TabPRO 12.2 (295.6 x 204 x 7.95mm, 734g) and Microsoft's 12-inch (2,160 x 1,440) Surface Pro 3 (292.1 x 201.4 x 9.1mm, 800g).

The Portégé Z20t-B's screen is, of course, touch sensitive and the system comes with a digitizer pen that can be used for on-screen drawing and handwriting. This lives in a housing on the edge of the tablet that docks to the keyboard/base, so the pen is well protected from accidentally popping out in your bag. You do have to detach the tablet from the base to get at it though.

For traditional typing, the backlit keyboard has a comfortable, light-touch feel. The multitouch touchpad is a little too recessed for our taste, but is responsive. The lower buttons are touchpad-integrated, but above sits a pair of physical buttons designed for use with the AccuPoint pointing stick located between the G, H and B keys.

Ports and connectors are spread around the screen/tablet section and keyboard/base section according to where they are most likely to be of use. The base section contains the aforementioned VGA and Ethernet ports, on the basis that you're unlikely to want them when working in tablet mode. The base also contains a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the right side, and a full-size HDMI port on the left. All of the lid/tablet's ports and connectors are on the right edge (when viewed in landscape orientation): headphone/microphone combo jack, Micro-SD card slot; Micro-HDMI-out; Micro-USB 2.0; volume rocker and the power button. There is a full-HD webcam above the screen and a 5-megapixel camera on the rear of the lid/tablet.

There are four preconfigured Toshiba Portégé Z20t-B models available on the UK website, with a wide range of prices:

  • Portégé Z20t-B-10H: £829.38 (inc. VAT)/ £691.15 (ex. VAT)
  • Portégé Z20t-B-107: £1338.35 (inc. VAT)/£1,115.29 (ex. VAT)*
  • Portégé Z20t-B-108: £1,465.73 (inc. VAT)/ £1,221.44 (ex. VAT)
  • Portégé Z20t-B-10C: £1,822.20 (inc. VAT)/ £1,518.50 (ex. VAT)

The two most expensive models include 4G mobile broadband support. All have 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Our review sample (asterisked above) had a 1.10/2.60GHz Intel Core M-5Y51 processor and 4GB of RAM. This configuration is shared by all but the most expensive model in the range, which sports a 1.20/2.90GHz vPro-compliant Core M-5Y71. The operating system across the board is 64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro.

The biggest disappointment with the Portégé Z20t-B, and probably a deal-breaker for some potential buyers, is storage capacity. The three less expensive models are stuck with a 128GB SSD, while the most expensive has a 256GB unit. SSDs are the norm for ultrabooks, but we'd like to see more capacity available in the higher-end models.

Performance & battery life

Microsoft's Windows Experience Index (WEI) points up the relatively disappointing performance of the Portégé Z20t-B-107's intergated Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU and the effect of having just 4GB of RAM. That's disappointing in a notebook costing over £1,100 (ex. VAT), although if used for mainstream office productivity tasks its performance should still be perfectly adequate. under Windows 8.1, WEI scores range from 1.0 to 9.9:

Processor 7.0
Memory (RAM) 5.9
Graphics 5.9
Gaming graphics 5.0
Primary hard disk 8.1

We can't fault the battery life: after a typical morning's the main battery was barely down below 85 percent, with the second battery still sitting at 100 percent. Toshiba's claim of 9 hours for the tablet battery and total of 17 hours for the tablet/base combo may be justified. We can certainly envisage true all-day working with this ultraportable.

Conclusion

The Toshiba Portégé Z20t-B is thin and light with a responsive and comfortable keyboard, and hits several sweet spots for us. The screen docking mechanism is robust, and we prefer the flexibility of full tablet undocking to a swivel-screen-type arrangement. The stylus tucks away safely in a concealed housing when not in use, while the full size Ethernet and VGA ports are welcome. Battery life is excellent, and having batteries in both the tablet/lid and keyboard/base sections makes for a balanced weight distribution.

Or main criticisms of the Portégé Z20t-B are its modest allocations of internal storage capacity and RAM. Along with slightly inflated pricing, these are the only drawbacks with what's otherwise a well-conceived ultrabook.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Preinstalled OS Windows 7
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core M (5th Gen) 5Y51 / 1.1 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 2.6 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 4 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Cache Memory
Installed Size 4 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Configuration Features 4 GB (soldered)
Installed Size 4 GB
Memory
RAM 4 GB (4 GB (soldered))
Max Supported Size 4 GB
Speed 1600 MHz
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-300
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
Monitor Features anti-glare
Type LED
Touchscreen yes (10-point multi-touch)
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 31.75 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, microphone
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2
Capacity 128 GB
Input
Type AccuPoint, keyboard, stylus, touchpad
Features multi-touch touchpad, spill-resistant
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Wireless Controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Features Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Processor
CPU Type Core M
Processor Number 5Y51
Generation 5
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.1 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Battery
Technology 3-cell lithium polymer
Capacity 36 Wh
Cells 3-cell
Technology lithium polymer
Run Time (Up To) 8.5 sec
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 45 Watt, 19 V, 2.37 A
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces VGA (on keyboard dock)
LAN (on keyboard dock)
Micro-USB 2.0
Dock
HDMI (on keyboard dock)
Micro-HDMI
Headphone/microphone combo jack
2 x USB 3.0 (on keyboard dock)
Memory Card Reader Yes (microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC)
Header
Brand Toshiba
Product Line Toshiba Portégé
Model Z20t-B2110
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.0, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Compliant Standards Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Ethernet Controller(s) Intel I218-V
Wireless NIC Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265
Monitor
Diagonal Size 12.5 in
System
Notebook Type Ultrabook
Mechanical Design 360° flip design / detachable keyboard
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 128 GB
Dockable Yes
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Miscellaneous
Color graphite black metallic
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Features Toshiba EasyGuard, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), volume control
Compliant Standards RoHS
Included Accessories 2 styluses, power adapter
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.2 in
Depth 8.5 in
Height 0.8 in
Comments tablet with keyboard
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards DTS Studio Sound
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.33 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Type Adobe Reader, DTS Studio Sound, Toshiba Resolution+, Toshiba Service Station, Windows 8.1 Pro recovery DVD, Intel Wireless Display, McAfee LiveSafe 2014 (trial), Microsoft Office 365 (30 days trial), Toshiba Display Utility, Toshiba Eco Utility, Toshiba PC Health Monitor, Toshiba Password Utility, Toshiba Recovery DiskCreator
Preinstalled OS Windows 7
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Input Device
Backlight Yes
OS Provided
Preinstalled OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Dimensions & Weight Details
Width 12.2 in
Depth 7.9 in, 8.5 in
Height 0.3 in, 0.8 in
Weight 25.7 oz, 3.3 lbs
Details tablet, tablet with keyboard
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 3 years

Where To Buy

Price
$1,399.99

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Where To Buy

Toshiba Portege Z20t

Part Number: Z20t-B2110
Price
$1,399.99