Technology

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B review

Ideal for travel – review of an excellent ultrabook sporting 13.3″ display, Intel i5 processor in a light magnesium alloy body.

My trusty Lenovo X220 laptop served me well for almost four years. During that time I had it with me on numerous journeys across continents and it never skipped a beat. I paid about $1300 for it back in 2012 for a configuration with Core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD hard drive. I upgraded it with extra 4 GB RAM and replaced the HDD with Intel 256 GB two years ago. I loved the overall portability and smoothness of the system. However, it was not a pretty thing to look at with its battery protruding from the back and the thick profile. It was built like a tank and it never let me down but few months ago one of the usb ports and touchpad’s button stopped working and I took it as a hint to look for a new beast.

I could simply get the new model – Lenovo X230 and I seriously considered it for a moment but then I decided to look elsewhere, mainly for the high price tag for my preferred configuration. Also the utilitarian design of the ThinkPads grew old on me. I use my laptop every day and it would be nice if the design was up to par with the technical parameters. Price wise, I was prepared to spend again about $1300 for the right system.

[sam_pro id="0_2" codes="true"]

Toshiba Satellite Z30 and other options

After quite a deliberation, when I was considering Dell XPS 13, Asus ZenBook UX305, Lenovo Yoga 900, Asus ZenBook UX303 and Toshiba Kirabook among others and I still was not decided, one day I went again to my local computer store. After a brief check of the laptops on display I spotted rather elegantly slim notebook with a matte screen between the shiny displays all around. Sometimes you just know when something in the shop is kind of waiting for you and this was exactly the case. This computer just checked all the boxes in my shopping list and after a quick check of the reviews and online prices I made the purchase on the spot.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

I was looking for a laptop that would:

- have a bigger screen than Lenovo X220’s 12.5 inches

- have matte display with HD resolution

- have Intel i5 or better processor, 8 GB RAM

- be lightweight, as close to 2lbs as possible (1 kg)

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

The top lid is made of aluminium.

Now after almost three months I can say that I never regretted the purchase. It seems that my new Toshiba Z30 has the right balance for me between the computing power, design, portability and the value for price. With its 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) and slim form factor is highly portable, magnesium alloy casing gives it sturdiness and it looks good, too.

Hardware

My Toshiba Satellite Z30-B is equipped with Intel Core i5-5200U processor at 2.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD HDD.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

Intel Core i5-5200U inside

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

Sleek and slim side profile.

The hard drive is mSATA version, which is good to know when upgrading. It has smaller form factor than normal hard drives, making mSATA suitable for ultra portable notebooks.

The hardware specs are sufficient for all my needs than include office work, browsing internet with many Chrome tabs open, editing photos in Lightroom and occasional reviewing of AutoCAD 3D-models on external screen. So far I have not experiences any blue screen or stuck system.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

The fan is quite noisy under load. But the cooling is very efficient, the laptop does not overheat.

As I do not play computer games, the integrated Intel 5500 graphic is fine with me.

Screen

The 13.3” Full HD 1920 x 1080 screen is gorgeous and my old Lenovo looks just ridiculous outdated next to it. The pixel density of the display is 166 PPI (pixels per inch). I like the neutral color temperature without any over-saturation.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

The buttonless touchpad is accurate. The sharp front edge is not comfortable for writs in some positions.

Battery and connectivity

The 4-cell battery lasts many hours on one charge. It definitely goes thru a normal work day in the office without the charger and there is still some juice left in the evening.

It is supposed to be quite durable, too. According to Toshiba, it can withstand a drop from a height of 30 in (76 cm) and it is spill resistant to small amount of liquids without damage. I am yet to test these claims.

[sam_pro id="0_2" codes="true"]
Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

The hinges are well designed.The lid gives a  little bit too much of flex .

Connectivity wise, there is the typical array of three USB 3.0 ports (one with sleep and charge feature), one full-size HDMI port and Ethernet connector. It also has an old VGA port, SD cards reader and the docking connector, features aimed at business customers. I especially appreciate that the full sized HDMI port is fitted.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B
Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

The ports along the sides.

Keyboard

The keyboard shares similar layout and keys with the other ultrabooks in this range. It is quiet and typing is pleasant and ergonomic, with enough tactile feedback. There is one small glitch though – the front edge is rather sharp and it is not always comfortable for the wrists. The keyboard layout is fine. The keyboards of Asus UX305 and UX303 were the reason I could not keep either of otherwise stunning and lightweight laptops – because of the power button is in the very top right hand corner right next to Delete button and hitting it all the time while typing drove me crazy. So the UX303 went back to the store.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

Backlight of the keyboard is sufficient for typing in the dark and for red eye flights.

Operating system

My Satellite Z30 came with Windows 8.1 preinstalled. This was my second encounter with this system and I really wanted to give it a chance as I do not prefer to waste my time with reinstalling system and all the drivers and software. Now I must admit that I failed with this attempt and I transferred the Windows 7 Professional license from my old Lenovo. I simply could not live daily with a system that is designed to get in my way so annoyingly as Windows 8.

Toshiba Satellite Z30-B

Windows 7 Professional after clean installation.

I did not upgrade to Windows 10 either, because at this stage I am not convinced that all the compatibility issues has been dealt with yet. And there is also the issue of the telemetry spying on the users, which is something I am not comfortable with at all. I prefer to have complete control over my system, to be able to selectively install updates and to find any system setting quickly without a need to google the necessary steps all the time. Therefore I am sticking to Windows 7 for the time being.

The bottom line

The Toshiba Satellite Z30 is an impressive system. It is powerful, lightweight and elegant at the same time. It shares its chassis with the more expensive Portege range that gives it the drop- and spill resistance that is very useful during traveling. I really like its thin profile and the sleek design that is minimalistic an highly functional.

I can highly recommend this laptop for its portability, powerful hardware specs, comfortable keyboard and excellent display.

The pros

  • Matte screen
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Functional and elegant design 
  • Portability
  • Weight
  • Hardware specs

The cons

  • Flexible lid
  • Noisy fan under load
  • Sharp front edge

Leave a Comment