With the thrive of technology these days it’s hard to distinguish a normal notebook and a convertible hybrid device, especially since Intel released its new Broadwell architecture that revealed the new possibilities for the mobile SoCs. Manufacturers like Toshiba swiftly integrated the new chips inside their portable devices and the results were more than promising. In this review we are going to check how Toshiba’s premium hybrid device stacks up against the competition and what the Core M-5Y31 has to offer since this is arguably the best feature the Portege Z20t has to offer.
Besides that, we were quite pleased with the design and build quality of the device as well as the impressive battery life thanks to the dual-battery design, but we will talk about that later. The Portege Z20t also includes various input methods – trackpoint, touchpad and even dedicated mouse buttons and that’s not the best part – you can take advantage of the usual notebook ports and slots that the docking station accommodates. This is an uneasy find in the hybrid segment.
You can see all available configurations and current price of the device here: http://amzn.to/1UHTiNQ
We were able to snatch an engineering sample of the device so we cannot be sure what the retail package has to offer, but our best guess is that the usual user manuals, AC adapter and cable, and microUSB cable are in place.
Design and construction
We have rarely complained about Toshiba’s build quality of its devices and the strong suit of the Portege Z20t is more than obvious. Since the hybrid’s main purpose is to be used as a daily driver for travelers and businessmen on the go, the main requirement is met – the Portege Z20t features amazingly rigid and sturdy construction. Here’s why:
Starting with the tablet itself, the back side of the device features hard plastic imitating brushed aluminum backed up by magnesium alloy for extra sturdiness – it feels nice, it looks nice and most importantly – it doesn’t bend under pressure. You can rest assured that heavy objects will not damage the device. There’s nothing more to be found on the back except for Toshiba’s logo and the main 8MP camera with the built-in microphone right next to it. Turning the device around will reveal the 12.5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) screen, built-in 2MP front-facing camera and light sensor.
Around the sides of the tablet include all the usual ports and buttons for a full laptop-like experience. On the flat sides, which are again made of plastic, are located 3.5 mm audio jack, microSD card slot, micro HDMI, micro USB, power button, volume rocker, and LED indicating lights, all of which can be found on the rights side. Unfortunately, though, we found it hard to distinguish the power button from the volume rocker so it would have been nice if the power button had a slightly different tactile feedback, for example. The bottom part of the device accommodates the slots and holes for locking onto the docking station, but if you want to charge the tablet only, there’s a DC charging port provided at the bottom.
The docking station weighs just around 770 g while the tablet is a little bit lighter at 720 g. The plastic used for the making of the tablet is the same here – sturdy, feels good, but, unfortunately, attracts fingerprints and nasty smudges. The rotating hinge accommodates the pins and connectors for the tablet and we would like to address our criticism on the matter. Connecting the tablet to the docking station is easy, but detaching it is somehow inconvenient. You have to switch a releasing button on the left side of the hinge while the solution presented in the Toshiba Click Mini 10 was way better. One small button had to be pressed to release the tablet, so this can be considered a small step backward for usability.
However, the keyboard design is more than okay. Yes, the keys are a bit small, but we cannot expect anything more out of a 12.5-inch hybrid device. The keyboard is stretching near the end of the docking station so it looks like Toshiba got the most out of the available space. Also, the keys of the keyboard are evenly spaced, provide long tactile feedback and include all the useful “F” keys and “Fn” functions. We would like to note that the media and volume control buttons are placed near the “Fn” button making them easily accessible with one hand – a small detail that not all OEMs pay attention to. Furthermore, the keyboard LED illuminated for more comfortable typing in dark environments.
As for the touchpad, it’s accurate, we’ve detected no wobbling and the input device detects left and right clicks accordingly. If you prefer the trackpad, though, Toshiba got you covered. It’s not the best trackpad we’ve seen on the market, but definitely does the job well after adjusting. Moreover, the touchpad offers two shortcuts – one for disabling the touchpad itself and one for activating the “Eco mode” for saving energy. Both are located on each side of the touchpad (in the upper-left and upper-right corners). Right above the touchpad are placed two separate mouse buttons for more intuitive usage.
As mentioned earlier, the plastic around the keyboard is the same as the one found on the tablet, but it’s reinforced with magnesium on the inside, so that’s why it feels so rigid. No bending can be done even after a strong pressure is applied on the keyboard. Nonetheless, the most lucrative feature of the docking station is the various ports that are available. The left side contains a VGA port and a full-sized HDMI port. That’s right, a hybrid offering both display connections is an important aspect to consider. On the other side of the keyboard, you will find the LAN port, another two full-sized USB 3.0 ports and the DC charging port on the right.
We would like to note that despite the low weight of the whole device (1.49 kg) and the thin profile of the tablet and keyboard, Toshiba has included all the ports you’d probably need, some of which can’t be found even on a regular 15.6-inch notebook. With that being said, we can conclude that the Portege Z20t is just perfect for frequent travelers. Yes, it might seem pricey for some users, but the features this device has to offer and considering the form factor you will be more than delighted. Although, the only thing that we found frustrating is the wobbling effect of the display when using the touchscreen in laptop mode. The hinge seems to be well-tighten, but the wobbling effect when touching the screen is still present. To be honest, this issue is found on most devices on the market that are touchscreen-enabled.
Display and sound
Toshiba Portege Z20t’s display integrates a Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel with 12.5-inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio and 176 ppi (pixels per inch) resulting in a 0.144 x 0.144 mm pixel pitch. The screen can be considered as retina when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 51 cm.
As usual, the viewing angles are perfect due to the IPS nature of the panel.
The maximum recorded brightness is 343 cd/m2 with a deviation of 13%. The average color temperature on the screen is 6190K which is close to the optimal one of 6500K(D65). No deviations whatsoever.
We calibrated the display at 140 cd/m2 brightness and 6500K color temperature.
For this purpose, we used X-Rite i1Display Pro.
For the color accuracy test, we used 24 commonly used colors like dark and light human skin, blue sky, green grass and orange. After calibration, the average DeltaE 2000 is 1.61 and the contrast ratio is 650:1.
Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)
Portege Z20t’s display uses PWM across all brightness levels and the emitted light reaches a frequency of 210 Hz. This can be considered as harmful to human eyes and the aggressive pulsation may result in headaches or eye fatigue to users with sensitive vision.
Gaming capabilities (Response time)
We recorded the refresh time of the pixels from black to white and white to black for 10 to 90%. So we were able to measure Fall Time + Rise Time = 24.6 ms. As usual, TN panels have faster response time making it more suitable for fast-paced games, but lack the image quality that an IPS matrix can deliver.
As expected from an IPS panel, Toshiba’s convertible delivers high-quality image with great viewing angles and relatively high brightness suitable for even the brightest rooms. However, for outdoor use may be insufficient. Furthermore, color accuracy isn’t its strongest suit as well as the contrast ratio making it suitable for browsing, working and multimedia, but not as much for photo editing and design-related tasks. The PWM is a factor that you should definitely consider if you have sensitive eyes.
If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.
|Toshiba Portege Z20t 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||176.23|
|Acer Aspire Switch 12 12.5-inch, Acer, 1920 x 1080 pixels||176.23|
|ASUS ZenBook UX305 13.3-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||165.63||-6.01%|
Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.
|Toshiba Portege Z20t 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||343|
|Acer Aspire Switch 12 12.5-inch, Acer, 1920 x 1080 pixels||367||+7%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX305 13.3-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||337||-1.75%|
Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).
|Toshiba Portege Z20t 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||1.61|
|Acer Aspire Switch 12 12.5-inch, Acer, 1920 x 1080 pixels||2.2||+36.65%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX305 13.3-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||1.53||-4.97%|
The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).
|Toshiba Portege Z20t 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||-|
|Acer Aspire Switch 12 12.5-inch, Acer, 1920 x 1080 pixels||60||-|
|ASUS ZenBook UX305 13.3-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||97||-|
We were extremely happy with the audio quality given the fact that we are dealing with a small convertible.
|Processor||Intel Core M-5Y71 (duo-core, 1.20 – 2.90GHz, 4MB cache)|
|RAM||8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR3, 1600GHz|
|Video card||Intel HD Graphics 5300 (shared memory)|
|Display||12.5-inch (31,57 cm) – 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), IPS touch display|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/100/1000 Mbit/s, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, a/b/g/n, Mobile Broadband 3G, 4G (LTE) Bluetooth 4.0|
|Thickness||8.8 mm (tablet)|
|Weight||0.72 kg tablet / 1.49 kg tablet + keyboard|
Toshiba Portege Z20t configurations
This can really be a deal-breaker to some as the results from our battery tests were surprisingly good. We have already reviewed a device with a dual-battery solution from the company – Toshiba Click Mini 10, but we were somehow disappointed with the battery performance. But this is not the case with the Portege Z20t. While the tablet and the docking station boast a relatively thin profile, both parts integrate an identical 36Wh battery promising long hours of work and entertainment. When connected to a power source, the device starts to charge the tablet’s battery first since it’s more likely to use the tablet first instead of the keyboard and this way you can rely on the docking station’s power. You can see all the tests we’ve prepared for the review with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, Bluetooth is off, power saver is on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
More than satisfying result – 666 minutes (11 hours and 6 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Another perfect score – 650 minutes (10 hours and 50 minutes).
For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on a loop with graphic settings set to minimum.
A time of 600 minutes (10 hours) with one charge is a solid proof that you can even have more than a few games before looking for the AC adapter. The whopping result is actually due to the low TDP of the SoC compared to the big battery.
Launched in late 2014, the Core M-5Y31 CPU is part of the Broadwell generation chips representing the ULV (ultra-low voltage) lineup. The SoC is suitable for thin and light notebooks or 2-in-1 devices with passive cooling system. The two cores also support key features like Hyper-Threading and Turbo frequency – 0.9 – 2.4 GHz. Intel Core M-5Y31 is based on the 14 nm FinFET manufacturing process and due to that and the extremely low TDP of only 4.5W are another proof of the energy-efficient properties of the SoC.
Interestingly enough, the mobile CPU supports an interesting feature called Configurable TDP that lets the OEM adjust the base clock at 1.1 GHz, but continuous load will greatly decrease performance since it’s mainly an energy-efficient model CPU and raw performance is not needed as much. The SoC also integrates the Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU with 24 EU (Executable Units) and clocked at 300 – 850 MHz. Similar to other Broadwell SoCs, the GPU supports DirectX 11.2 as well as OpenCL 1.3/2.0 and OpenGL 4.3. The overall performance of the SoC is suitable for office work and light day-to-day applications.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-m-5y31/
Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core M-5Y31 managed to get 3.940 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
Intel HD Graphics 5300 is integrated GPU included in various Broadwell generation of CPUs from Intel. Due to its nature, the GPU doesn’t have dedicated video memory, so it uses the one present in the system (RAM). It also has mid-range characteristics like 24 Execution Units (EU).
The base frequency is 100MHz and can go up to 800MHz when needed. It supports OpenCL 2.0, DirectX 11.2, DP 1.2/eDP 1.3, HDMI 1.4a, but there is no word of HDMI 2.0.
Of course, Intel HD Graphics 5300 is integrated into ultra-low power consumption SoCs like the Core M lineup. The maximum TDP is 4.5W and can be managed by the vendor which affects performance and thus battery life as well.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-5300-integrated-graphics/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Since this is not a conventional notebook, the temperature tests here are slightly different. We still perform our two-staged tests like 100% CPU load and added 100% GPU load, though. It was also interesting to see if the CPU throttles since this is the nature of the Core M processors in order to sustain the produced heat and to keep power consumption low. However, this can occur after really prolonged usage. On the graph below you can see that the CPU was running at around 1.7 GHz, but was constantly moving from 1.4 GHz to 1.8 GHz. Still, we cannot consider this as throttling because the frequency of the CPU varies from 0.9 GHz to 2.4 GHz. Yet, the temperatures the silicon reached were dangerously high – 94 °C out of 95 °C Tj. max.
Almost immediately after we ran the GPU stress test, temperatures went down to 83 °C, because the CPU cores started throttling a lot. The frequency was as low as 0.6 GHz at times.
We also measured the temperatures of the tablet after the prolonged usage, but since the temperatures cannot be reached under normal circumstances, these numbers are just for informative purposes only. Also, you probably won’t be touching the tablet when you are working in laptop mode.
The Toshiba Portege Z20t is well-balanced, powerful, feature-rich convertible with sturdy construction and almost flawless design with little drawbacks on the list. We were pleased with the rigidness of the chassis (the tablet’s as well as on the docking station’s shell) and also quite delighted from the various input methods that Toshiba has provided. The touchpad, keyboard, and the trackpoint were comfortable and easy to use. In addition, the docking station contains multiple ports (LAN, full-sized HDMI, micro HDMI on the tablet and VGA) that even standard 15.6-inch notebooks lack.
However, we were unsatisfied with the display quality and also using PWM across all brightness level resulting in aggressively emitted light pulsations. Moreover, the hinges would have been nice to be a bit more tighten as we observed screen wobbling almost after every touch. As for the battery life, this is actually the deal-breaker here. The tablet can run for more than 5 hours away from the charger when using it for video playback, browsing or even gaming. However, this time doubles when used with the docking station as the latter contains a second one with 37Wh capacity (same as the tablet’s). To sum things up, you get more than a full day of battery life with mixed usage and various modes.
You can see all available configurations and current price of the device here: http://amzn.to/1UHTiNQ
- Neat design, rigid construction and excellent build quality
- Good input devices – keyboard, tracpoint, trackpad
- Outstanding battery life
- The docking station accommodates second battery and various useful ports (full-sized HDMI, VGA, RJ-45 and two full-sized USB 3.0)
- Light weight of both devices adding to 1.49 kg in total and really thin profile of the tablet
- The screen has relatively high maximum brightness (for a notebook)
- PWM across all brightness levels with low frequency pulsation (210 Hz)
- Reaches dangerously high temperatures at maximum load