Having carried my Toshiba Portege Z20t everywhere around for over one year now, it’s time for a short review.
The Toshiba Portege Z20t is a battery-powered workhorse. And it runs and runs and runs…
As a convertible, it consists of a tablet that can be attached to a really good keyboard which offers multiple connections and an extra battery.
But first things first: I’m pretty involved in local politics and also work in this environment. I get around quite a lot over my day - and sometimes my work day is as long as 15 hours, so I needed something portable, compact, with great battery but powerful enough to handle everything that might happen.
Typical usage is multiple hours of writing in OneNote, surfing (well, not the fun version of it), mailing, some PDF-editing, in between, one or two short presentations and last but not least some work on graphics in CorelDraw.
In short: Yes, the Portege Z20t is capable of handling all of this - but in the end it is not exactly what I expected.
Intel® Core™ M-5Y71 Vpro™ processor
31.75cm (12.5”) , Toshiba IPS FullHD High Brightness touch display with Wide View Angle, Digitizer and Pen, 16 : 9 aspect ratio, LED backlighting, hardened IOX Glass, Anti Fingerprint and Anti Reflective Coating
Solid State Drive 256 GB
8,192 onboard MB, LP-DDR3L RAM (1,600 MHz)
Intel® HD Graphics 5300
maximum life : up to 9h tablet only (Mobile Mark™ 2012)
up to 17h tablet & keyboard (Mobile Mark™ 2012)
1.6 kg combined, 730g for the tablet only.
The good: The display is great. Colors are correct. It is originally a glare display with an anti reflective coating, so you can really use it outside in bright sunlight (no marketing gag). The coating is just a factory applied screen protector that could be peeled of if you really want to remove it. This is a very nice backup plan if you happen to scratch the display.
The bad: It’s 16:9. 16:9 is great for watching movies but not for office use or writing. As the display has an anti reflective coating, it hasn’t got the shininess of other IPS displays on the market and movies don’t look that great either. It would be much better if it was 16:10 or 4:3. And the surface is not hard enough. You won’t break it but you always fear that if you press a bit stronger with the pen.
The good: It’s a Wacom EMR Digitizer and it works pretty flawlessly. Wacom driver support was a bit problematic in the early days of Windows 10 but now it works just great. The device comes with two pens, one in the size of a real pen with good grip, just a little bit to light. The other one is really small and fits in a docking hole at the bottom of the display. This way you always have a pen with you. Palm detection is absolutely great - it’s the typical Wacom look and feel you get.
The bad: As stated in other threads, you have accuracy problems with EMR tech in the corners of the screen. The buttons only work when the pen is in the range of the EMR field (5cm / 2") so you can’t use your pen as a presenter tool.
The good: You get LTE and WiFi in the tablet along with Micro USB, Micro HDMI and Micro SD. The keyboard brings an extra Gigabit Ethernet port, 2 full size USB-A 3.0 ports, a full size HDMI and a VGA connector. Connection wise you have everything on board you might face. I have different providers at my tablet and my phone so I always get a pretty good connection. LTE support is pretty important to me when I’m often out of office.
The bad: The full size HDMI and VGA. I bought 10cm short adapters to reduce tension by the cables. One time I hat to connect to a pretty high quality HDMI cable and wrapped it around the screen to prevent it from breaking out my HDMI port as it was that heavy.
No good, no bad - It’s a Core M and it is just enough for office use. Gaming is not what it is intended for. But even under these restrictions: Guild Wars 2 runs ok-ish in full resolution with 20 FPS. That’s more than enough for what I want on this device category.
You can really stress the CPU by editing large PDFs with many vector paths like construction plans or maps with lots of statistical information. Zooming these is somewhat fatiguing, but even my i7 takes two or three seconds to rebuild the page after zooming in.
The good: The device has two batteries: one in the tablet, one in the keyboard. In reality the tablet reached 7 hours at first, both together brought 15.5 hours of battery life in my use scenario. After one year of intensive use, battery wear brings is down to 5 hours and 12.5 hours combined. That’s not great, but it’s OK. The tablet as well as the keyboard both have a charger port. The tablet is always charged first, the keyboard after.
The bad: The battery wear. And - it behaves as an notebook class device and so it uses the standard Toshiba notebook charger that weights nearly 500g… It is somewhat absurd: The designers of such devices starve to reduce the weight by every single gram possible and then they just add an standard charging adapter that weights nearly as much as the tablet itself…
The good: The docking mechanism works flawlessly. The hinge is sturdy and holds the screen at any angle.
The bad: When docked in laptop mode, you can’t really write on the tablet or use the touch screen. The keyboard brings not enough weight to prevent flipping. When you put it on the table, the keyboard is in your way. So basically you either use the keyboard or touch and pen. The back of the screen is pretty weak - at least it feels weak. You can twist it a bit. This makes the whole tablet is somewhat fragile. You would not put it in your bag without the keyboard or some stable cover.
The good: It’s black. Beside of this it looks valuable with the brushed aluminum case.
The bad: It’s just another laptop. It looks like another laptop - not like a tablet. It feels like another laptop, not like a tablet. It is a convertible but it only feels like a laptop.
"You don’t talk about money - you just have it." This is the philosophy you need for this device. At a typical configuration you dump 1.600 - 2.100 EUR / $ on a convertible. If I had an other job and won’t need the battery, I would have taken the Microsoft Surface Pro and not this one. But for the requirements I have, this device is the best you can get (or could get a year ago).
What to learn from?
- Make keyboard and tablet independent usable.
- Don’t care of a few grams if you could make the device more robust. The iPad 1 (stable as a chopping board) was heavy but you could literally chop vegetables on it. Something in between is the way to go. Make sure it can’t be twisted or pressed in.
- The brighter the display, the better. You can always reduce brightness but when brightness is too low, you can’t see anything on it outside (or inside with a bit of sunlight on your table).
- Create possibilities for extra battery life. Power packs are great for this. Make it possible to use them.
- The pen is mightier than the keyboard. It’s the only reason I could get my 65 year old boss to convert from paper to digital. Till march the print volume she had was about 2.500 pages per month. Now it is below 200. Her Surface Pro pays of before the end of the year just by saving printing costs let alone the added effectiveness and the team collaboration that is now possible.
- Have many possibilities to connect - but don’t put full size HDMI or VGA ports on it when you don’t guaranty the stability to hold the heavy cables that often are around (more or less) professional presentation points. Mini displayport is a good way to go - or USB-C.
- For business devices, people pay business prices. But to really hit the market, you need to make it suitable for both, business and personal use. Toshiba failed here with this device. It is great for business but the living room acceptance factor is near to zero.
You have questions? Just ask and I will try to answer them