Toshiba Satellite U840W review

Toshiba Satellite U840W review

T3 3
  • The Toshiba Satellite U840W sports a distinctive look thanks to its elongated 21:9 true widescreen display, but is the unusual form factor a good idea?

    Toshiba Satellite U840W review

    Love

    • High quality keyboard
    • Responsive trackpad
    • Good inputs

    Hate

    • Awkward screen
    • Thick build
    • Heavy weight

    The Toshiba U840W 21:9 laptop is a dramatic re-imagining (or blatant disregarding) of the ultrabook concept - the premium materials and i5 processor are present and correct but the shape isn’t what you expect from the ‘ultrabook’ tag...

    Toshiba U840W: Build

    The first thing you’ll notice are the dimensions. That’s a 21:9 movie style screen you’re looking at - stretched to native cinema screen style dimensions. Philips attempted the same (unsuccessfully) with a TV once - the Philips Cinema 21:9.

    The rubber and metal build is high quality but means the U840W is thick and heavy against slimmer and lighter ultrabooks with bigger traditional screens like the Acer Aspire S5. 60% of the outer casing is rubber coated, which makes the U840W resemble a Black and Decker chopping board but despite the style, it’s not a ‘rugged’ laptop which some may find puzzling.

    Toshiba U840W: Features

    Screen aside, there’s a backlit keyboard with stretched keys flanked by large Harmon Kardon speakers which do a good job of satisfying the movie buff, despite the lack of a Blu-ray drive.

    The Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset helps the i5 processor make demanding games run at a respectable speed and resolution and the 500GB hard drive is backed up by a 32GB SSD drive to keep things moving. The double drive system explains the thickness - this is no SSD based MacBook Air, despite the £900 price tag.

    Toshiba U840W: Screen

    There’s no denying that HD movies and the BBC iPlayer work well but the screen can’t compete with the basic display of a MacBook Air (with a non retina display) and many cheaper laptops offer the same screen resolution. Both the new iPad 3 and Sony Tablet S offer much better experiences for movies on the go too.

    Toshiba U840W: Performance

    There’s plenty of grunt under the bonnet - an i5 processor and the Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset work well and the screen doesn’t impact general speed but it’s unlikely you’ll want to play a game on the screen.

    The problem is the screen is too shallow for practical use - you can see two pages side by side but the benefit is lost in terms of height. The 21:9 ratio is great for movies but it’s not the way the internet was designed to be viewed.

    The soft touch keyboard and responsive trackpad work well but, bizarrely, you’ll need to sit slightly further away from the screen than usual to view the entire screen without moving your head to scan the screen for folders on the desktop.

    Toshiba U840W: Battery

     

    We managed four hours on a full charge which is average for an ultrabook though the heat from the battery means it’s not ideal for lap use.

    Toshiba U840W: Verdict

    The Toshiba U840W is an odd ultrabook. It’s powerful but not practical, looks rugged but isn’t and is designed for movies but can be beaten by many tablets for screen performance.

    We’re confused about who the target market is for the U840W, especially as it didn’t fit in any of our existing laptop bags and arrives without an Asus-style sleeve. For movie fans, there’s a variety of £600 ultrabooks which still leave change from the U840W price tag for a tablet with a better screen.

    Toshiba U840W release date: Out now

    Toshiba U840W price: £900

  • The Toshiba Satellite U840W ultrabook is the world's first cinemascope latop, sporting a unusual 21:9 screen that eliminates the black bars when watching films

    Toshiba Satellite U840W review

    Love

    • High quality keyboard
    • Responsive trackpad
    • Good inputs

    Hate

    • Awkward screen
    • Thick build
    • Heavy weight

    The Toshiba Satellite U840W is a strange beast - it's currently the only laptop that enables you use the entire screen to watch anamorphic widescreen films, with no black bars at the top and bottom of the picture.

    The unconventional screen shape means that you can comofortably view windows side by side, for example, you could watch iPlayer, while viewing your Twitter feed at the same time.

    The 21:9 screen might not be for everyone, but it does make the U840W stand out from the likes of the Dell XPS 13, the HP Envy 14 Spectre and the Asus UX31 Zenbook.

    Launched alongside the more conventional 14-inch Toshiba Satellite U840 ultrabook, the U840W sports a third-gen Intel ultrabook chip.

    Weighing in at 1.814kg, the U840W feels a little on the heavy side for an ultrabook, but its slick 368.5 x 200 x 20.8mm dimensions should sweeten the pill.

    Toshiba Satellite U840W : Screen

    The headline-grabbing 21:9 cinemascope display features LED backlit technology and measures 14.4 inches on the diagonal, while the 1792x768-pixel resolution makes the screen ideal for watching HD films. We saw a movie clip demoed on the screen, all of which looks clean and crisp with plenty of punch and decent black levels.

    Toshiba Satellite U840W : Features

    Aside from the screen, one of the key features on show here is the Harman Kardon stereo speakers, which sounded fantastic. This is another feature that makes this a great gadget for movie fans who want to watch flicks on the go.

    The U840W sports a 32GB SSD along with a 500GB HDD and up to 10GB RAM, while connections include three USB 3.0 ports (including one 'sleep and charge' connection), along with HDMI, Ethernet, multi card reader and Bluetooth 4.0.

    Toshiba Satellite U840W : Battery

     

    Toshiba describes the U840W as having "all day battery life", which is something we'll check out in more detail in our full review.

    Toshiba Satellite U840W : Verdict

    For those who like to watch movies on their laptop, or watch TV while provding a social media commentary, the Toshiba Satellite U840W looks ideal, although it doesn't come cheap. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review.

    Toshiba Satellite U840W availability: Q3 2012

    Toshiba Satellite U840W price: £899

    Hands-on review by Libby Plummer

    • Toshiba Satellite U840W laptop demo
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