This laptop is easy to use, but the keyboard is disappointing.
The Portege Z835-P370's keyboard is a good size, with plenty of separation between the keys, which makes it easy to find the keys by touch. However, the keyboard feels very soft and squidgy, with a lack of any physical feedback to tell you that the key is fully pressed down. It also feels fragile: Press any key with enough force, and the entire keyboard sags and sinks into the case—like a college kid's couch.
Good overall performance
The selection of ports on this machine is generous: an SD card slot, headphone, and microphone port on the left side, a VGA port, full-sized HDMI, two USB ports, and a 1-Gbps Ethernet port on the back, and a Kensington lock socket and another USB port on the right side. That's a big selection for a slim laptop, and a boon for frequent travelers who have to connect to other computers or projectors when they are doing presentations.
We found good performance in all of our tests, too. It was not the fastest laptop we've seen, but it performed well for a laptop under 1000 dollars. In our PC Mark test, it earned a rating of 3563, which is about the same as the Asus Aspire S3, but slower than the Dell XPS 13, which had a rating of 3876.
To find out how a laptop performs when running everyday tasks, we run tests in Photoshop, Excel, and the video transcoding application Handbrake. In these tests, the Portege did pretty well: very close to the other models using the Intel i5 processor, such as the Asus UX31 and Samsung 9. For the Excel test, the Portege took 8.27 seconds to recalculate a very complex spreadsheet—that's a little faster than the Samsung Series 9.
Lastly, Handbrake is a video conversion program that stretches a laptop's ability to run complex math, and we found that the Portege did a fairly decent job here, too, taking 195.3 seconds to convert an HD movie down to a lower resolution. Again, that is a little slower than the XPS 13 (which took just under 170 seconds), but is about the same as the Asus UX31E (191 seconds).
Offers a good range of features at an attractive price, but the poor keyboard is a disappointment
The Portege Z835-P370 offers a lot of features for the price. At about $1000, it includes 6GB of memory, more ports than most (including a VGA video output), and a couple of customizable control buttons. It's also one of the few laptops we've seen that includes a 1Gbps Ethernet port; many rely on wireless, or require an external adapter or case to connect to a wired network.
So far so good, yet this device is far from perfect. The touchpad does not offer support for many multitouch gestures, and the keyboard is not the most robust, although the magnesium alloy case of the laptop is well built and should stand up to the rigors of everyday use.
These issues aside, the Portege is a good pick for the mobile professional who doesn't mind a bit of sacrifice (such as no multitouch gestures) to gain the flexibility of more connectivity. And at under $1000, it's a good buy.
This laptop is affordable, portability, and fairly reliable, too.
No major complaints
We installed Excel, Photoshop, and Handbrake to start things off. In Excel, we created a complex spreadsheet that included foiling binomials and searching for primes. This Toshiba completed a thousand lines of calculations in 8.27 seconds, finishing ahead of the Samsung Series 9's 9.17 seconds.
The Photoshop test involved applying a set of filters onto a standardized photo. Handbrake is a video conversion program that stretches a laptop's ability to run complex math, and we found that the Portege again did a fairly decent job here, taking 195.3 seconds to convert an HD movie down to a lower resolution. That is a little slower than the XPS 13 (which took just under 170 seconds), but is about the same as the Asus UX31E, which took 191 seconds.
Using Power Mark, we simulated usage such as word processing and video playback. With the screen dialed up to its maximum brightness, this laptop managed to keep running for 2 hours and 44 minutes before it reached the "red zone" of 15% battery life.
Lowering the brightness to its lowest level, the battery life was increased to 3 hours and 28 minutes.
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