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Hands-on review: Toshiba Portege Z20T-B

By Mark Roulston, Fri 9 Oct 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With the celebrated release of Windows 10 and moves towards a much-improved touch interface, now is a better time than ever to jump into the touchscreen ultrabook market. Toshiba’s Portege Z20t-B is a 12.5 inch hybrid tablet laptop with optional 4G LTE, a great option for those who need a decent amount of power on the go.

Powered by Intel’s hybrid-focused Core M processor and 8GB of RAM, the Portege Z20t-B is a great showcase of how adaptable Windows 10 can be. The innards of the detachable touchscreen contain all the nuts and bolts in a package that’s weighty but still slim enough to be comfortably held for reasonable periods, while the backlit keyboard holds additional battery power as well as a wealth of input options.

In the interests of portability, the tablet/screen itself hold only a micro USB 2.0 as well as micro HDMI, but the additional space offered by the docked keyboard allows two additional full-size USB ports, a full-size HDMI and even a VGA port. Why you might need a VGA port in 2015 is a little unclear, but hey, it’s nice that Toshiba have given the option.

As for the screen, the Portege offers a full HD widescreen, anti-glare and anti-fingerprint display that is among the nicer PC laptop displays I’ve seen. The need for what feels like thick, sturdy glass over the touchscreen is so much more appealing than the ghastly matte displays so often seen on PC laptops, and the colours are vibrant and sharp.

As for the touchscreen functionality, I found it a little inconsistent - although it’s difficult to tell if that’s a bug in the OS or the fault of the device itself. The supplied stylus pen is for the most part a great inclusion and offers more precision than jabbing at the screen with fingers, although it would have been nice to have somewhere to store the pen built into the tablet. The Portege also features very responsive handwriting recognition, which can be easier than using the on-screen keyboard when you’re undocked.

Some small, basic tasks were a constant source of frustration however - things like trying to switch between tabs in the web browser and accidentally dragging one tab out to a whole new window. It’s a little thing for sure, but it happens often enough to be pretty annoying.

Another shortcoming of the Portege is the keyboard dock, which as mentioned is fully featured and pretty functional, but in comparison with the tablet feels a little plasticky and cheap. It could be a personal thing, but I also had a difficult time typing accurately on the keys, and the touchpad wasn’t nearly as responsive as you would expect for a relatively high-priced laptop.

It’s possible that some of these peripheral issues could be addressed through software updates as Windows 10 matures, but the feel of the keyboard might be a real source of concern for those who will mostly be using the Portege while docked. As a full Windows 10 tablet though the Portege Z20t-B is actually a pretty great option, and signals the potential of Microsoft’s resurgent platform.

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