Toshiba doesn’t tend to release the flashiest or fanciest products around, but lately, its been on a hot streak. In April, it unveiled three new Excite tablets, each with a simple, elegant design and one with an abnormally large form factor. We’re not sure if anyone wants a 13-inch tablet, but if they do, they’ll certainly be buying a Toshiba. With its new Ultrabook lineup, the manufacturer is taking a similarly safe, yet quietly bold approach.
Though we highly recommend that Toshiba replace whoever is in charge of naming its laptops, its summer Ultrabook lineup consists of three new devices: the updated Portege Z935, the new low-cost Satellite U845, and the super widescreen Satellite U845W. All three will hit shelves in June/July and be priced at $1,000 and down. All three also meet Intel’s Ultrabook specs.
Toshiba Satellite U845W
The Satellite U845W is Toshiba’s big gamble. Though it meets Ultrabook specs — meaning it’s thin, has good battery life, and boots quite quickly — the U845W is no ordinary laptop. Instead of a standard widescreen, Toshiba has built this guy with an extremely widescreen, with a full 21:9 aspect ratio; the world’s first laptop with a screen wide enough to fully display a fully widescreen film. We found watching movie trailers and other video to be quite enjoyable on the 14.4-inch super widescreen, which has large speakers on either side, which provide louder sound than I’ve ever heard from a laptop. Toshiba is also positioning this as a multitasker’s dream laptop. New software lets you easily create Window layouts and snap windows into new formations and grids. We’re not sure why Windows doesn’t already have these features, but we like them.
The Satellite U845W has a 500GB hard drive, 32GB or 256GB solid-state drive, 14.4-inch screen with a 1792 x 768 pixel display, up to 8GB of RAM, 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 SD card slot, 1 Ethernet port, runs the newest Intel Core processors, and weighs 3.5lbs (more if you beef it up). It will be released on July 15, 2012 and cost $1,000 and up.
Toshiba Satellite U845
There is nothing remarkable about the Toshiba Satellite U845 except that it has a nearly identical name to its widescreen cousin. The U845 is Toshiba’s most affordable Ultrabook, costing about $750, but still offering Ultrabook specs. It has a 500GB hard drive, 16-32GB solid-state drive, runs the newest Intel Core processors (i3, i5, or i7), 14-inch screen with a 1366 x 768 pixel display, up to 6GB of RAM, 1 USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 SD card slot, 1 Ethernet port, and weighs 4lbs. It will be released on June 24, 2012, and cost $750 and up.
We’ve reviewed the new U845, make sure to check out our full Toshiba Satellite U845 review.
Toshibe Portege Z935
The Portege Z935 is an updated, but visually unchanged, version of the Portege Z835, Toshiba’s first Ultrabook. It features most of the strengths of its predecessor, but still has a flimsy screen and runs a bit loud. Mostly, it seems like the Portege is still around to make sure Toshiba has an Ultrabook in the $900 price range and one that can compete with other manufacturers on thinness and weight. We recommend you look at other characteristics, but if thin and light are your two most important attributes, the updated Portege Z935 may be worth a look. It weighs about 2.5lbs, supports Intel’s new Core processors, is only 15.9mm thick, has 8-hour battery life, and comes with a solid-state drive. The Toshiba Portégé Z935 will be available on June 24, 2012 and retail for $900 and up.
A solid (state?) lineup
Though we aren’t huge fans of the Portege’s flimsy design, the new Satellite U845 offers an affordable, no-frills Ultrabook to the masses; and the Satellite U845W may be oddly wide, but demonstrates some value. Representatives told us that the widescreen may come in handy as well. For example, if you’re on a flight, the U845W may fit on a tray table better than taller laptops. Cinephiles and those who like to multitask may also find a lot to like.
Overall, it feels like Toshiba has a well-rounded grasp on the current Ultrabook market. Though Windows 8 is on the horizon and these will undoubtedly be among the last Windows 7 laptops Toshiba creates, they are pretty good and shouldn’t disappoint for the prices. We can’t wait to see Toshiba’s first touch-enabled Windows 8 laptops and tablets this fall. It’s becoming a company to watch.