REVIEW: Toshiba Portégé X30

Last year Toshiba confirmed that while it’s stopping making PCs for European consumers – and indeed won’t be offering these outside of its home market of Japan – the company will continue to sell computers to businesses in Europe and the US. Its Portégé and Tecra laptop ranges fly the flag, so can the company’s latest ultraportable business workhorse compete against the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo or even Apple?

What Is It And Who Is It For?

The Portégé X30 (from £1,229) is one of the latest additions to Toshiba’s premium professional notebook range. As expected it comes in a sleek and lightweight magnesium chassis (316 x 227 x 16.4mm, 1.05kg) designed for frequent business travellers, yet offers the latest 7th Generation Intel Core U processors, runs Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, and comes with advanced security features including a fingerprint sensor and IR-camera – as well as being underpinned by Toshiba’s built-in BIOS, helping to protect the machine from any risks presented from third-party interference which could leave a device vulnerable to attacks. It directly competes with Dell’s Latitude 13 7000 and Lenovo’s ThinkPads, but is distinguished by its Onyx Blue finish which gives it a modern edge.

Does It Perform Its Function Well?

The Portégé X30 is a lightweight workhorse for running typical business applications. It hasn’t got the power to edit 4K videos or work with detailed CAD drawings, but its Intel i5-7200U processor, Intel HD Graphics 620 chipset, 256GB PCIe solid state drive and 8GB of DDR4 memory keep everyday business applications (Google Apps, Microsoft Office, Salesforce, Basecamp etc) running smoothly. An on-par battery life of just over 10 hours delivers a full day’s work, too.

The 13.3-inch non-reflective, non-touch Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080) is well suited for office applications, and is bright and crisp with vibrant colours. The HD resolution is ideal for this screen size too, as any higher would make reading text and menu items difficult. Being non-reflective and sporting a full-size matte black tile backlit keyboard with glass-finished trackpoint and additional AccuPoint makes the Portégé X30 a practical solution for when working under a variety of indoor lighting conditions.

Connectivity & Other Notable Features

The Portégé X30 is small but it doesn’t compromise practicality. Bordering the enclosure is an external stereo headphone/microphone jack, a USB 3.0 port supporting USB Sleep-and-Charge, twin USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3-enabled ports which support Data transfer and Power, a micro SD card slot, and a HDMI-out port supporting dual video signals up to 4K using the optional Thunderbolt 3 dock.

There’s also an IR-camera with Dual Mic for Windows Hello and Intel Authenticate, in addition to a built-in fingerprint reader for two-factor authentication. There’s also a slot for the optional Toshiba Slim cable lock for physical security, plus an optional smartcard reader. Toshiba also says it tests everything with a Highly Accelerated Life Test simulating 3 years’ usage, and subjects the Portégé to MIL-STD 810G testing.

Alongside the hardware, support for PXE, vPro, SCCM, and WMI commands makes managing the laptop easier for IT managers. Wireless connectivity comes by way of 802.11ac+agn and Bluetooth 4.2, and the Harman Kardon stereo speakers and two front-facing speakers sound good for a machine this size.

Where Does It Disappoint?

The Portégé X30 is a solid all-rounder, but adding extra horsepower really pushes up its price. Upgrading to an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD costs a budget-busting £1,549 (ex. VAT). On the plus side, that’s a very powerful specification that few ultraportables can match. There’s no getting away from the Intel HD Graphics 620 however, which delivers dismal gaming and video-encoding performance. It’s also disappointing to see no dedicated charging port, meaning you’ll lose a USB port when the machine is low on juice.

There are a few usability issues, too. The key travel is relatively shallow, which is unreassuring, and most of the keys are also heavily inscribed with symbols that are often difficult to decipher. The glass touchpad is comfortable and a good size, but the left and right buttons are unnaturally located above the pad and feel flimsy with very little feedback. Positioning the fingerprint reader inside the touchpad’s upper left corner is impractical and also cosmetically appealing. There is also a worrying amount of flex in the screen housing, which is really disappointing considering the cost and target market of this machine.

Would We Recommend It?

Toshiba’s Portégé X30 is a solid laptop for business professionals in a corporate environment. It’s expensive compared to rival machines from Dell and Lenovo, but it does provide a very good display, robust performance, top-notch security, and rich audio. Toshiba also offers a standard 3-year warranty, which is much better than the 1-year that you’ll get from Apple, Dell and HP. The Onyx Blue finish and two silver hinges located at each rear edge of the screen do their best to help to distinguish the machine in terms of design, but ultimately it’s a very familiar computing experience. There’s no getting away from the huge bezel around screen either!

As a small, light, secure and manageable machine built for business, the Portégé X30 does its job very well – if not quite as well overall as Dell’s fantastic Latitude 7370. And as a mobile powerhouse for creating multimedia content on the go there are better options – including the MacBook Pro if you’re not tied to a Windows environment. It’s not bad, but there is plenty of room to improve.

SUMMARY
  • Good general performance
  • All-day battery life
  • Plenty of ports & connectors
  • Above average audio quality
  • Secure
  • Expensive
  • Huge bezel around screen
  • Lacklustre GPU
  • Disappointing keyboard
  • Fingerprint scanner positioning