Toshiba has released its Portege Z10T, an 11.6″ Ultrabook/tablet hybrid that is designed for a professional environment where things like being a full-size computer, a real tablet and “dongle-free” (for Ethernet, VGA…) do really matter. The overall goal of the Z10T is to bring the best of both worlds in terms of tablet usage model, without sacrificing the computer feel. The typical user for a system like this would be a road-warrior who also needs to be able to interact with customers or colleagues in a way that is facilitated by a tablet form factor with which it is easy to demonstrate, share and interact in a friendly way. However when the presentation is done, that user also need to be fully productive with email, reports and other “classic” office work.
If you look at the Z10T from that perspective, it can address an interesting niche market in a way that others systems may not be able to. It is big enough to be comfortable to work with, and when I tried it, I found its keyboard to be much faster than smaller competitors: the Samsung ATIV Smart PC and Microsoft Surface Pro. Of course, the additional comfort and size make the Z10T more laptop-like than tablet-like. At 3.1lbs, it effectively competes with regular Ultrabooks as well. But which of those Ultrabooks can turn itself into a 11.6″, 2lbs tablet? Not many, if any at all.
I consider the industrial design of the Toshiba Portege Z10T to be “tablet-first”, in the sense that everything is in the “tablet” portion of the device, while the backlit (yes!) keyboard is a mere data-input accessory without battery or anything remarkable other than the essential: it is a productive keyboard with a decent trackpad, pointer and mouse buttons. The locking mechanism is a little impressive (big), but it also seemed quite solid, and the keyboard dock also features full-size HDMI, VGA, LAN and USB 2.0 ports.
The tablet has all the ports all over: full-size SD card slot, USB 3.0 and Micro HDMI ports, and an audio combo jack. In addition to the extended ports from the keyboard, there is an optional cradle dock that includes LAN, two USB 2.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port and a headphone jack. You would have to choose between the keyboard or the dock. What I like very much about the dock is that you don’t have to aim to slide the tablet in: it’s pretty much foolproof.
The display is built with an IPS technology, which gives it very a wide view angle. Toshiba has used a matte surface instead of a glossy one. I supposed that it is more suitable to all kinds of work environment, especially when working outside. Glossy displays make the colors pop a little bit more, but they are also too shiny in direct sunlight. If you have an Intel Wireless Display nearby, the tablet is compatible with that standard.
Inside, the computer is powered by an Intel Core i5 or i7 and comes with the vPro chipset, which makes it easier to manage (for Enterprises) and more secure in case of theft/loss. Users can opt for 256GB of SSD, but 4GB of RAM is the only option at the moment. Since this is a “work” computer, I asked if customers could use Windows 7 and the answer is yes: all the Windows 7 drivers have been tested and the OS is fully supported by Toshiba.
While the Portege Z10T may not be a tablet for everyone, it addresses a specific market of users who want to carry a single computer that can be both a regular ”full-size” laptop, and a Windows-powered tablet that is convivial enough to get the job done, even if it won’t be the prettiest laptop of 2013.