Screen and Speakers
The Z835 has a 13.3-inch display with a glossy surface and 720p (1366×768) resolution. It has plenty of brightness but overall isn’t remarkable in terms of color reproduction or contrast. The glossy surface helps with contrast, specifically the black levels, but hinders usability since nearby light sources can create annoying reflections on the screen. An anti-glare screen coating is preferred; they’re easier to clean too. The 1366×768 resolution is acceptable for this screen size but the more-expensive ASUS UX31 offers a much better 1600×900 resolution (about 30% more working space).
The Ultrabooks I have tested thus far have impressive sound quality given what the engineers had to work with; the Z835 is no exception. The speakers are surprisingly loud though there’s little bass; they are slightly better than “normal” notebook speakers.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Z835 has about 90% full-size keys which require a slightly more delicate touch. The keyboard has a light feel; the keys offer little resistance and are perhaps easier than they should be to press. The tactile feedback could be improved if the keys had longer travel (the distance between pressed and un-pressed positions); as it stands there is just enough feedback to make typing feel normal.
A major feature of this keyboard is the white LED backlighting; it certainly helps in darker situations and looks great. I like the keyboard’s quietness and the standard layout; there are dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys along the right side. Not all Ultrabooks offer backlighting; Toshiba didn’t make any compromises other than less-than-average key height.
The Z835 has a Synaptics touchpad appropriately-sized for the 13.3-inch display. It has an excellent matte surface that is easy to track on. The two touchpad buttons below it offer good feedback and quiet clicks, which is certainly appreciated. The dedicated touchpad on/off button is also appreciated. The only aspect of the touchpad I don’t like is the chrome finish of the buttons; it gets fingerprinted immediately.