More Competition for Surface Pro 3? Toshiba Protege Z20t

protege z20t
Toshiba Protege Z20t vs. Surface Pro 3:

As soon as Toshiba announced that it will be releasing its new 2-in-1, laptop replacement tablet – the Protege Z20t – tech blogs started buzzing about how the Surface Pro 3 will now have some tough competition. So, I thought I’d take a closer look at this new tablet that is to be released later this month (ship date from Toshiba is 1/21/15).

It’s no secret that Tim and I love our Surface tablets. When HP came out with its Surface Pro 3 competitor – the HP Envy X2, I took a look and my verdict was…”meh”, at best. So, now I want to see if Toshiba actually produced anything as good as the Surface.

Here are Protege Z20t’s key features as compared to Surface Pro 3:

Toshiba Protégé Z20t Surface Pro 3
Processor Intel Core M 4th Gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7
Weight 1.6lbs tablet and 3.3lbs with included keyboard 1.76lbs
Screen Size 12.5″ 12″
Resolution 1,920 x 1,080 2,160 x 1,440
Hard Drive options 128Gb, 256Gb, 512Gb 64Gb, 128Gb, 256Gb, 512Gb
Pen Wacom digitizer pen N-trig digitizer pen
Keyboard Included with extra battery and ports additional $120
Ports micro USB 2.0, microSD, microHDMI on tablet
2-full USB 3.0, Ethernet, RGB, HDMI on keyboard base
full USB 3.0,  microSD , Mini DisplayPort
Battery Life 9.1 hours; 17.5 hrs with keyboard pack 11.75 hours (from our own test)
Price $1,399 for 128Gb $999 for 128Gb + $120 for keyboard = $1,119

OK, so let’s look at some of these specs and features that Toshiba included in Protege Z20t…

Processor – the Core M processor included in the new Toshiba, indeed, provides very low-power consumption and therefore gives good battery life. Why then does the Protege Z20t battery last shorter than the Surface Pro 3? Only the addition of the second battery in the keyboard dock gives Toshiba the big battery life boost. Also, many would argue that the Core M processor is significantly under powered for performance compared to the 4th Gen i5 and i7 processors, see these benchmarks from So, if you’ve had dreams of playing computer games on your new Toshiba 2-in-1 – good luck…

Fan-less – I know that there have been some complaints about the noisy fans on the i7 versions of the Surface Pro 3 but going completely fan-less? I think that may be a stretch, even for the Core M processors – again, any CPU intensive tasks are going to have an issue.

Keyboard – the powered keyboard is a pretty cool feature, I have to admit. Microsoft also offers a battery cover keyboard but it’s at an additional cost and it’s really aimed at the Surface Pro 2 line.

However, I would worry that the keyboard adds too much weight and bulk to the Toshiba, especially if it’s the only native keyboard option (as it seems to be) – 3.3lbs makes it as heavy as a laptop! The extra ports in the keyboard are nice though, as is the locking mechanism; the security feature is nice too.  So, despite the weight, I would say that the keyboard is my favorite feature on the Protege Z20t. I wish the Surface Pro 3 had a more rigid keyboard with an option to lock it into place.  I still prefer the thin and light design of the Surface keyboard but I do believe that it would be nice if Microsoft came up with something similar to the Toshiba keyboard as another option.

Wacom pen – this is essentially the same pen that the Surface Pro 2s had, and as I said in my comparison of the Surface Pro 2 vs Pro 3 pens, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better digital pen than the N-trig one on Surface Pro 3. So, Toshiba has some catching up to do here.

Resolution – you may have noticed that the Toshiba Protege Z20t has a much smaller resolution than the Surface Pro 3 – why would you have a larger screen size with a lower resolution? I don’t get it. I know Toshiba is targeting the “every day” users but still, the high resolution on the Surface screen makes it fantastic. I don’t think I’d trade it for an extra 0.5″ of screen.

Lack of kickstand – I don’t know about you but I often use my Surface tablet with the kickstand (and no keyboard). I find it convenient and love that it is adjustable. I think Toshiba messed up by not adding one to the Protege – just sayin’...

All in all, I think competition is healthy and there is a need for 2-in-1 tablets, so I’m glad companies, like Toshiba and HP are embracing these technologies. What pisses me off though, is the glorious pre-reviews of the Protege Z20t, while all the Surfaces ever get is negative ones from the media. I just don’t understand that. I mean Microsoft comes out with something awesome and truly innovative and every tech blog gives dubious reviews, while others come out with pale copies of the same thing and they are winners on the blogs – what the hell…?

Anyway, off my soap box, I think Toshiba gave this a good try but I don’t think it will compete much with the Surface Pro 3. Despite the innovative keyboard design, it simply is too expensive with too few improvements, while still using lower-end tech on screen and pen and a slower processor.


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