The last time Toshiba had a completely new business ultraportable for us to review was back in November 2011. That was when the Portege Z835 came out and since then, the company's only refreshed it with new CPUs. Today, though, the outfit announced a proper successor, the Z30, along with two bigger versions, the Tecra Z40 and Z50. Additionally, Toshiba unveiled its first-ever mobile workstation (also fairly lightweight for its class) and an old-school laptop with -- gasp! -- an optical drive. As you'd expect, they all feature Haswell, TPM and faster 802.11ac WiFi. Also, with the exception of two models, they'll all be available soon, on October 18th, with three-year warranties included. That's the short version, but if you follow us past the break, we'll give you a more detailed rundown of all the specs.
Though the Z30 is part of the thin-and-light Portege line and the Z40 and Z50 are included in the mainstream Tecra series, they're basically indistinguishable, apart from the obvious difference in screen size. All of them have magnesium lids, with the same honeycomb frame that you'll find inside some of Toshiba's older machines. Also whereas the Z835 had an awkward hinge with "shoulders" that rose above the keyboard, these machines have a cleaner, more understated look. Across the board, too, Toshiba included its Accupoint tracking stick, along with backlit keyboards, fingerprint readers and larger touchpads. Finally, they all have docking connectors on the bottom, which you can use with the same dock regardless of the screen size you choose.
As you'd imagine, it's on the spec sheet where you'll find the most differences. As the closest thing to an Ultrabook, the Z30 is the least configurable, and is also missing certain niceties like discrete graphics. Here, you'll get your choice of Core i5 or i7 vPro processors, with 128GB or 256GB of solid-state storage and a battery rated for up to 10 hours of runtime. Given that these ship with Windows 7 by default, it understandably doesn't come standard with a touchscreen (none of these do), though you can get a touchscreen and configure it with Windows 8, if that works better for your company. The one thing we can't really make sense of is the resolution: 1,366 x 768 seems low, especially for a machine that starts at $1,249.
Step up to the Z40 and Z50, and you'll get the same ports (Ethernet, VGA, a SmartCard reader and USB sockets) but the specs will be more varied. Whereas on the Z30 it's all solid-state storage, here you can get a 7,200RPM HDD with 320GB to 750GB of space, as well as a hybrid drive. Also, the SSDs on these models max out at 512GB, not 256 gigs, so that's nice. Additionally, as we hinted earlier, you can opt for discrete graphics, with NVIDIA's 730M being the GPU of choice. One slight tradeoff is battery life: these are expected to last eight hours on a charge, versus 10 for the Z30 we just told you about. As for weight, the 14-inch Z40 weighs 3.2 pounds and the Z50 comes in at 3.9. Finally, there's the screen: you can upgrade to a sharper 1,600 x 900 panel on either model. Both will start at $1,199, but while the Z40 ships October 18th, the Z50 won't go on sale until late November or early December.
Moving on, Toshiba's new mobile workstation, the W50, isn't exactly thin (OK, it's the exact opposite), but it's at least relatively light for its class, as less than six pounds. Design-wise, it features the same honeycomb framing as the smaller Z-series models, along with a backlit keyboard and plastic lid -- the same texture and material you'll find on Toshiba's current Tecra laptops, actually. Under the hood, it runs a quad-core Core i7-4800QM CPU paired with a 2GB NVIDIA Quadro GPU and up to 32GB of RAM. Unlike the Z-series notebooks, too, it has 1080p resolution, with the screen itself measuring 15.6 inches. As for storage, you've once again got plenty of choices: a 7,200RPM HDD (500GB or 750GB), a hybrid hard drive (again, 500 or 750 gigs) or an SSD (128GB to 512GB). Look for that on October 18th as well, with a starting price of $1,999.
Finally, there's that traditional notebook with the optical drive. That would be the Portege R30, which is also made of magnesium with a honeycomb frame. As we said, it uses Haswell (they all do), but in this case you're looking at a full-voltage CPU, not an ultra-low-voltage chip. All told, despite the thickness caused by the presence of the optical drive, it doesn't actually weigh that much: just 3.2 pounds. Not bad for a 13-inch machine. No word on pricing as of this writing, though Toshiba said it would be in line with the current Portege R930, which starts at $600. In any case, we'll know more when this ships in December.
Toshiba Tecra W50
Toshiba Tecra Z40
Toshiba Tecra Z50