If you ever wanted to see what the most powerful tablet looks like, here it is. Toshiba’s Portege Z10t not only is a high-performance ultra-portable slate, but with its included keyboard base, it can double as a regular old notebook computer.
The textured gray tablet itself weighs in at 1.8-pounds, 6-ounces heavier than the iPad, which has a smaller screen. It is half an inch thick and occupies 11.6- by 7.4-inches of desk space. On its own, the slate feels good in the hand, sits flat on a table and automatically rotates its screen when the unit is turned.
With the included snap-on keyboard, its weight rises to 3.1-pounds. The system takes up 0.8- by 11.6- by 8.8-inches – about what you’d expect from a small notebook these days.
Rather than have up to five distinct computing profiles, as is the case with other convertibles, the Portege Z10t can be a tablet or keyboard-centric notebook. It can neither be set up in presentation mode, in tent mode nor flat on a table with the keyboard in front as is the case with the Toshiba Radius P55W.
While the slate and keyboard base mate easily and are locked in place with a single latch, it has a traditional hinge that allows the screen to open to only about 115-degrees. If you tap the screen too energetically, the whole thing tips over.
On the other hand, pulling the slate free of the keyboard dock takes a bit of getting used to because the latch release is a little stiff. I prefer the magnetic design used on Acer’s Iconia Switch 10 where you just pull it free of the base.
The 11.6-inch display can show full HD material and responds to up to 10 independent touch inputs. I found that the long narrow display is great for reading a long online article with less scrolling or watching a widescreen movie.
Although it worked well with a generic stylus, the system includes a small stylus that fits into the slate and is good for quick notes or sketches as well as a larger more comfortable one that that has a pocket clip and an eraser for those apps that support it, such as Sticky Notes. I really appreciate that the screen’s surface has a roughened feel to it that makes touch and writing on it seem more like paper.
With the keyboard in place, the system is the equivalent of a small notebook. Its keyboard has a cut-out above its release latch for the screen’s Windows key and there’s a full set of 19.1-milimeter keys, which feels like a big step up from on-screen keypads. While the keys can quickly wake the system up, unfortunately, they lack the depth that other add-on keyboards, like the one for the ThinkPad 10, provide.
The keyboard has the luxury of both a touchpad and a pointing stick. Because the keys are backlit, the Portege Z10t is perfect for lessons given by the light of a projector. The base, however, doesn’t have a second battery that could have extended the system’s time away from an AC outlet.
Happily, it has been designed for abuse at school with a tough skin and a 256GB solid state hard drive. The A2110 model I looked at has been built for speed with a Core i7 processor that usually runs at 1.7GHz but can go as fast as 2.9GHz. It has 8GB of RAM, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a security-conscious TPM module. At $1,900, however, it is priced out of the reach of all but the best endowed schools. Toshiba sells a less powerful Portege Z10t model with a Core i5 processor and half as much RAM and storage space that starts at $1,500.
With cameras front and back, the system can be used for video conferences as well as for shooting a class picture or taking a video of pictures of a lab. Around its edge, the Z10t slate has a basic set of ports with USB 3.0, micro-HDMI and a headphone jack; there’s an SD card slot for adding to its storage potential. Snapping on the keyboard adds another USB port as well as a full-size HDMI, LAN and VGA plugs.
Not only can the system be powered by plugging the 6-ounce AC adapter into either the tablet or the keyboard, but its two-prong plug that should come in handy in older schools with older electrical outlets. On the downside, the Z10t has a loud fan that makes too much noise when it’s working hard.
It all adds up to the top-performing tablet I’ve seen with a Passmark PerformanceTest 8 score of 1,889.2, putting it in the upper echelon of educational computers. As powerful as it is, the Z10t’s 3,600-milliamp hour battery was able to power it for 4 hours and 50 minutes of non-stop work, an hour and a half short of the company’s larger Radius convertible system. Still, it’s enough for a full school day of on-and-off work with more than enough left over for playing games or grading tests.
Expensive and worth it, the $1,900 Portege Z10t-A2110 model I looked at comes with its snap-on keyboard, Windows 8.1 Pro and a 3-year warranty, which together are worth about $650 compared to lesser slates. It may not be able to assume five different personalities, like the larger Satellite Radius, but the Z10t is equally good as either a slate or a mini-notebook and can outperform the competition.
In other words, if price is no object, this is the keyboard and slate combo to get.
+ Top tablet performance
+ Includes two passive pens
+ Backlit keyboard
+ 3-year warranty
+ Two-in-One design
- Tablet latch hard to use