Toshiba 14-inch Ultrabook review: hands-on

Study aluminium chassis, full-sized ports and long battery life

What is a hands on review?
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The brand's’s first foray into the Ultrabook arena, the Toshiba Satellite Z830, ended up being quite a lovely machine and one of the better laptops to come out from the Japanese technology giant.

Now, the company is planning on taking the winning Ultrabook formula and merging it with the look and feel of the existing Satellite line-up.

The new model is set to get head to head with the likes of the HP ENVY 14 Spectre and the Dell XPS 13.

At the CES expo recently held in Las Vegas, we were able to play around with a prototype of the upcoming 14-inch Satellite ultrabook.

And while we can’t say for sure what kind of hardware it’ll be equipped with or what model number it’ll end up receiving, we offer you our initial impressions of the machine’s look and feel.

Toshiba 14-inch: Features

While Toshiba made it clear that nothing was final about the prototype, we’re reasonably certain that the machine that will end up on the retail shelves will have the same aluminium body with rounded edges and corners and a plastic sheet on the bottom.

Toshiba has gotten rid of all unnecessary clutter and pointless accents and instead opted for a clean and minimalistic layout with a chiclet-style keyboard and a large touchpad, with the right and left buttons incorporated into the touchpad surface.

Like most laptops these days, the keyboard has a built-in backlight for easy visibility in dim or dark rooms.

This model will probably end up weighing in below 1.8 kilos, and for an Ultrabook, it’s kind of on the chunky side as well.

On the flip side though, that extra internal space will allow for a larger battery, which Toshiba expects will be able to give you a generous eight hours of runtime.

On the left side of the chassis, we found Kensington lock slot, a power connection, full-sized HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, and jacks for your headphones and microphone, while the right side accommodates an SD card reader slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and an Ethernet port.

The 14-inch screen has a modest resolution of 1366x768 pixels, something that we’d like to see increased in the final production model.

Toshiba 14-inch: Performance

The specs of the internal components are still up in the air, but this model will most likely be using low-voltage variations of the current second-generation Intel Core processor, or— better yet—the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors that offer with better speed, faster graphics, and reduced power consumption.

Those chips should be ready in the Spring, so it’s a match made in heaven.

Toshiba tells us the machine will feature the company’s "Hi-Speed Start” technology—with fast boot times and near-instant wake times, so we’re pretty sure it’ll come with an SSD drive.

However, it might also come with a hybrid drive like the Seagate Momentus XT. Only time will tell.

Toshiba 14-inch: Verdict

While we couldn’t get Toshiba to give us any hints about the final retail price, it sure looks like this Satellite will end up being a good solution for those wanting the features and benefits of the Ultrabook design combined with a study chassis, long battery life, and full-sized ports.

We sure can’t wait to get our hands on the final production model and will be keeping our fingers crossed for a reasonably low sticker price.

Toshiba 14-inch Ultrabook availability: June 2012

Toshiba 14-inch Ultrabook price: £600 (rumoured)

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.