The Dynabook Portégé A30 is a nifty, surprisingly powerful work laptop with an excellent display and impressively powerful battery life which is unfortunately let down by a keyboard and overall build quality that feels flimsy and cheap.
If the Dynabook Portégé A30-E-18W has taught me anything about computers it’s that size doesn’t matter as much as you think. While the rest of the industry is obsessed with creating machines that are bigger and better than those that came before, the Portégé A30 has been designed with the opposite idea in mind. Keeping things small and (relatively) tight, this notebook has everything you’ll need to make it through the working day… if you can live with some cut corners.
Making no attempts to sell the Portégé A30 as something that it’s not, Dynabook has made it very clear that this machine has been designed and built for a working individual that needs something light, powerful and long-lasting. For the size of it, it’s a generally impressive piece of hardware and in all the categories it sets out to compete in it excels, despite some aspects feeling less than satisfying after extended use.
Light as a feather, Stings Like a Bee
In my eyes the perfect laptop for the office is one you can forget about carrying. Like a well-trimmed moustache, a work laptop should be something you can throw onto your body and forget you’re lugging around. The Portégé A30 excels on this front, weighing in at just over 1.2kg. It’s like slinging one of your mother’s Tae Bo dumbbells to your backpack. Despite the startlingly light weight of the device the amount of power squashed into its chassis is immense. It’s like a 9mm pistol loaded with buckshot.
Equipped with an Intel Core i5-8250U and with a whopping 8GB RAM (whopping for a machine this size), the Portégé A30 is surprisingly powerful. Switching between programs was fast and snappy, only really slowing down once I’d opened the 60th tab in Chrome. I’d wager that was more an issue with the browser than the device itself.
Just don’t go purchase the Portégé A30 thinking you’ll be able to run the latest games or graphically demanding software. You can’t be disappointed if that’s the case because this notebook has very specifically not been designed for such tasks. The installed Intel UHD Graphics 620 will run some basic software to distract yourself form boredom at work but it hasn’t been built with that express purpose in mind. It keeps its head down, doesn’t do anything flashy and gets on with its job, like a good character actor in your favourite film franchise.
Running a Marathon
Beyond the impressive size-to-power ratio of the Portégé A30, the most impressive thing to me about this nifty little device is the battery life. After a solid weekend of use I was only forced to plug the device in once to charge it up. I’m not talking casual use either, I’m talking several videos being played, multiple browsers being open and a Word document being typed up. Sure, that’s not heavy use but I kept to the parameters of what the Portégé A30 was designed for and it lasted longer than expected.
When I say the Portégé A30 lasted over ten hours without being plugged in, you might think I was joking. I’m lucky to draw out four hours of runtime from my actual work laptop and the Portégé A30 totally blows that out of the water. It’s easily one of the device’s more prominent selling points.
A Matte of Clarity
The other highly impressive aspect of the Portégé A30 is the matte finish on the 13.3″ screen. While the size is obviously small, the clarity one draws from it is magnificent. Even when used in direct sunlight you’ll easily be able to make out what you’re doing. With a native resolution of 1920×1080 and a stunning brightness of 422.2 cd/m² Portégé A30 is readable from any angle making it perfect for crowded board rooms and presentations where there isn’t a projector present. The absolute horror of it all.
The IPS panel was an incredibly smart addition the machine, offering up a level of usability and accessibility that stands strong against the competition. While no doubt small in statue, that shouldn’t deter you as the actual build quality of the screen is tremendous. If only the same could be said about the actual body of the laptop.
Life in Plastic
To me, the only major drawback of the Portégé A30 is the keyboard, which comes across as cheap and disposable. The lightest of key touches compresses the entire board, giving the impression that the whole thing has been made with the cheapest of plastics. It never feels stable to type on and only becomes worse if you’re a heavy-handed typer like me. Considering that most of what you’ll be doing on the Portégé A30 is typing up documents, it’s disappointing that the keyboard is so…wobbly.
The Dynabook Portégé A30 Verdict
Look, this computer is a niché device that has a very specific target market in mind and for that certain demographic of working individuals — looking for something to work on while traveling to and from the office — it absolutely excels. Honestly, I would argue that the Portégé A30 goes above and beyond what individuals like that need in their day-to-day lives.
Yet that’s also taking into account the largest failing of the device, the build quality of the body. Beyond the flimsy keyboard the laptop does feel exceptionally fragile due to the lightweight materials used to build it. Having said that, if you’re able to overlook a build quality that comes across as fairly cheap, the Portégé A30 is a device that offers an incredible amount of value and convenience despite its fairly expensive price tag of around R20 000.