Toshiba Portégé Z20t vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: The next big laptop battle?

The Surface Pro 3 was the best computer of 2014. My love affair with the hybrid PC is no secret; I'll tell anyone who will listen that I love my precious Microsoft computer.

Quite frankly, what isn't there to love about a super-powerful laptop/tablet/desktop that comes with an active stylus? Nothing, that's what; it's friggin' awesome.

While it continues to be my favorite computer, a new year is upon us, and 2015 is already looking very promising for technology. Yes, CES is here and everyone is gushing over the latest doodads and gadgets.

While much of the show is noise, Toshiba is making quite the impression this year. Case in point, the Intel Core M powered Portégé Z20t - arguably a Surface Pro 3 clone - is quite the beast of a machine. Hell, the fact that it is so reminiscent of Microsoft's computer is a positive; Toshiba is simply building on the successful reference that Satya Nadella and company presented to the world.

"With a 12.5-inch display, the Portégé Z20t, provides the perfect balance between mobility and performance. Built with an extremely light, yet durable magnesium alloy, the tablet weighs only 1.6 pounds and when combined with the keyboard dock, just 3.3 pounds.

"The keyboard dock features a simple hinge mechanism that allows the tablet to be detached with one hand. The attachment mechanism is also reversible, enabling a presentation mode for showing content to a group of people", says Toshiba.

The company further explains, "The Portégé Z20t is powered by Intel Core M processors, which offer the ideal combination of battery life and business-class performance in a single device.

"With the inclusion of these processors and Toshiba's engineering, the Portégé Z20t is housed in a fanless chassis with a premium, black magnesium alloy finish that operates silently with up to a 9.1-hour battery life rating as a tablet and an unprecedented 17.4-hour battery life rating with the keyboard dock".

Thats not all; Toshiba also says, "the device features the new M.2 SSD interface and can be configured with a with a 128GB or 256GB solid state drive and up to 8GB of on-board LPDDR3 memory for easily multitasking.

"To ensure a comprehensive tablet experience, the device features a full array of sensors, including ambient light, gyroscope and an e-compass. The device also includes powerful wireless capabilities, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v4.0".

Wow, this is a very impressive machine. One of my biggest complaints about the Surface Pro 3 is fan noise. It is hardly loud, but audible, nonetheless. Toshiba's use of the low-wattage mobile Broadwell processor eliminates this issue with a fanless design - awesome!

Artists, take notice - Toshiba's digitizer is an honest-to-goodness Wacom variant. Many people - creative-types mostly - were disappointed that the Surface Pro 3 has an N-trig model instead.

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If you aren't a fan of the Surface's floppy Type Cover, the Portégé Z20t may be for you. You see, for laptop mode, it uses a more traditional and rigid keyboard dock, which will be better for lap-typing.

I wouldn't say the design is better than Microsoft's machine; it will be more of a personal preference, weighted by usage cases.

Pricing is actually rather reasonable, starting at $1,399 (£930). Keep in mind, that is with the keyboard dock and digitizer. If you want to use it more like a traditional tablet and don't need the digitizer or keyboard, a lesser-expensive model, dubbed "WT20" will come sans those things for $899 (£595).

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Which do you prefer, Surface Pro 3 or Portégé Z20t? Tell me in the comments.