Toshiba Satellite U840W-107 review

3 Sep 2012

An innovative screen but with limited benefits and niggles elsewhere, it's little more than a sideshow

Price when reviewed: 
899(£899 inc VAT)
4

The desktop wallpaper on Toshiba’s latest laptop claims the firm is “leading innovation” and, for once, this might be more than marketing department hyperbole. In a world where it’s difficult to distinguish between hordes of identikit Ultrabooks, the Toshiba Satellite U840W-107 stands apart.

Rather than using a screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9, as used by almost every other modern portable on the market, this machine has a 21:9 panel with an unconventional resolution of 1,792 x 768 spread across its 14.4in diagonal. It’s strikingly different, and it’s a design targeted specifically at those keen on watching movies on their laptops. Play a movie and its pesky black borders disappear, but that isn't the only advantage.

Toshiba Satellite U840W-107

When we were working on the laptop, we found the ability to have two documents lined up on the screen, side by side, consistently useful. It makes up for the lack of vertical space, which saw us spending more time scrolling than we would on 1,600 x 900 or 1,920 x 1,080 screens.

Critically, though, image quality isn't brilliant. The gamma level of 1.9 is very close to the ideal of 1.8 and, similarly, a colour temperature measurement of 6,348k isn’t far enough away from the 6,500k ideal to cause issues. Brightness is fine at 344cd/m2, too, but viewing angles aren’t great, and critically the contrast ratio of 232:1 is low. This means movie scenes lack punch and depth, which is hardly ideal.

Toshiba Satellite U840W-107

This is a shame, as the U840W is certainly striking. The wristrest, lid and base are all covered with soft, textured material, and the rest of the machine is clad in brushed metal. We have a few complaints about build quality – there’s a little give in both screen and base, and the Toshiba is a little chunkier than rivals at 20mm thick and 1.7kg in weight, but that's about it.

The backlit keyboard makes a good first impression, but it soon disappoints. The base is bouncy and the keys don’t have enough travel to make for comfortable typing, and Toshiba has used the sheer width of the U840W to fit in extra wide keys rather than a number pad. We found this made it tricky to get to grips with, and it doesn’t help that the right-hand side of the spacebar proved unresponsive.

Details

Price ex VAT £749
Price inc VAT £899
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 369 x 200 x 20mm (WDH)
Weight 1.700kg
Travelling weight 2.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3317U
Motherboard chipset Intel HM77
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 14.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,792
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1792 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 465GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Harman/Kardon
Speaker location Beside keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 57min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 7min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 34fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.62
Responsiveness score 0.71
Media score 0.68
Multitasking score 0.48

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partiion