PC

Ultraportable business hybrid

With the stylus of the Toshiba Portege X20W, users can vary the thickness of brush strokes by adjusting the amount of pressure.
With the stylus of the Toshiba Portege X20W, users can vary the thickness of brush strokes by adjusting the amount of pressure.PHOTO: TOSHIBA

It ain't pretty but the lightweight Toshiba Portege X20W's battery life is its forte

The Toshiba Portege X20W looks like the quintessential business laptop. It is grey, sombre-looking and bland.

In other words, it is not going to win a beauty contest for notebooks. But it is attractive for other reasons. Take its skinny magnesium alloy frame. It is a handy 1.1kg, which means your arms will feel less tired from carrying it on your daily commute.

Its lightweight body also makes the X20W easier to hold when its 12.5-inch screen is flipped over, turning it into a tablet.

Complementing this form factor is a Wacom-based stylus for taking notes. The pen is pressure-sensitive: you vary the thickness of your brush strokes by adjusting the amount of pressure.

Like other styluses I have tested, there is a minute latency between writing and having the words appear on the screen, but I soon got used to it. Unfortunately, there is no clip or slot to attach the stylus to the X20W.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $3,049

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7600U (2.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 620

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 12.5 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.0, audio jack

    BATTERY: 44 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The matte screen has wide viewing angles. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Its 1,920 x 1,080 pixels screen resolution is ideal for its size. Colours look relatively vivid compared with the washed-out screens in typical business laptops.

Above the screen are two infrared cameras for facial recognition using the Windows Hello feature in Windows 10. If you prefer logging in via a fingerprint, a built-in sensor is located at the top left corner of the touchpad. However, it takes up valuable space on the small touchpad, which already feels cramped.

Perhaps because of its size, the touchpad sometimes wrongly treats my taps as right mouse clicks, even when my finger is closer to the centre than the bottom right corner of the touchpad.

The backlit keyboard could be more spacious - the keys are not as tall as those on other keyboards - but it does have decent key travel. The Function keys are tiny.

Toshiba plans to release a WiGig high-speed wireless dock and a Thunderbolt 3 dock for the X20W later this year. But, at the moment, it has just two ports: a USB 3.0 port and a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port that is used for charging and display output (a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adapter is included).

The X20W is fresh from the oven, having been announced in January at the CES trade show. Toshiba claims it is the world's thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 business laptop to utilise a full-power Intel seventh-generation processor.

Its Intel Core i7-7600U is a tad faster than the 7500U chip I had tested on the Asus ZenBook 3. In the PCMark 8 Home benchmark, which tests general usage like Web browsing and video playback, the X20W scored 2,875, compared with 2,786 for the ZenBook.

Toshiba says that the X20W can last up to 16hr in the MobileMark benchmark. In our video-loop test, the laptop managed an impressive 9hr 10min at maximum brightness and volume. This is almost 2hr longer than other ultrabooks that I have tested.

• Verdict: With its Wacom-based stylus, the X20W is useful in tablet mode, which is not always the case for 2-in-1 convertibles. Its excellent battery life, but not its limited ports, will appeal to business users.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Ultraportable business hybrid'. Print Edition | Subscribe