Toshiba Satellite U920t review
Toshiba’s convertible has a good keyboard but a poor screen, and it’s far too heavy to use as a tablet
Windows 8 hasn’t been out long, but it’s already having an impact on the hardware market, with a swathe of innovative touchscreen portables and PCs launched in recent months. Toshiba is the latest to join in the fun with its 12.5in Satellite U920t.
It’s one of the new laptop/tablet hybrid brigade: a device that can be used as a laptop, complete with full-sized keyboard and touchpad, but with a screen that folds flat against its chassis, so it can also be used as a tablet.
It sounds exciting, and to find it’s slim enough at 20mm to be classified as an Ultrabook is encouraging, but get the Satellite U920t in your hands and it seems entirely less thrilling. To start with it’s too heavy. At 1.5kg it’s 200g heftier than the only other Windows 8 hybrid we’ve seen so far – the Sony VAIO Duo 11 – and it’s a bit of a lump compared to most standard Ultrabooks as well. Pick it up and your first instinct is to rest it on something; we certainly wouldn’t want to use it one-handed.
It makes much more sense in laptop mode. To transform it, you slide the screen slowly up, exposing the keyboard, then when it stops, haul it up into position. The mechanism feels cumbersome compared to the lighter, pivoting screen on the Duo 11, but it’s solid enough and does have one key advantage over its rival: the angle of the screen is adjustable.
The larger size of the U920t also means there’s plenty of room for a keyboard and touchpad, where the VAIO has only a trackpoint. The keyboard is sensibly laid out, and a stiff base means typing is comfortable whether you’re using it on a desk or propped up on your lap.
The touchpad is less pleasing. It has a smooth surface and it’s responsive enough, but the small size and horribly narrow integrated buttons make it fiddly to use. It lacks support for Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures; the only gestures that do work are the two-fingered scroll and pinch to zoom in and out. Disappointingly, there’s no sign of a stylus either.
Happily, the rest of the design is far more practical. The screen housing feels robust and it resisted our attempts at twisting it admirably. The base is creaky, but again flex-free, and with the screen folded flat against the chassis things tighten up even further. Considering this isn’t a standard laptop design, we’re rather impressed with how well Toshiba has managed to screw everything together.
If there’s one aspect we’re not so keen on, it’s the U920t’s appearance. With an Ultrabook we expect brushed metal, smooth curves and sleek lines, but this is a rather butch and angular affair, built all from plastic. An ugly muddle of textured and grey finishes contrasts awkwardly with the glossy, glass edge-to-edge touchscreen display, and the only saving grace is the rubbery coating on the rear. This makes it less slippery in the hand than if it had been finished in smooth aluminium.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||326 x 213 x 20mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i3-3217U|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Hard disk usable capacity||119GB|
|Hard disk||Samsung PM830 SSD|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||3.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||5hr 40min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||29fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.51|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|