Toshiba Satellite U845W impressions: The Ultrabook with the widescreen

Ultrabooks may be a word Intel invented to help laptops battle back against smartphones and tablets, but even with the name “Ultrabook” attached to it, the Toshiba Satellite U845W is in a category of its own. Unveiled on June 5, the U845W is one of the first Ultrabooks to branch out and try something radical — or at least, different. Though the name “U845W is hardly memorable, our experiences with the laptop were quite positive. Our first impressions are below.

Wide load

Naturally, the first thing you notice about the Satellite U845W is its 21:9 aspect ratio. It’s such a wide screen that movie trailers and cinema-ready films can play natively on it without any letterboxing at all. Not even your home HDTV or most movie theaters can do that. Whether it’s really something you need, or want, is a different story, but it’s certainly fun to watch the new Skyfall trailer take up the entire screen.

The screen itself measures 14.4 inches diagonally with a 1792 x 768 pixel resolution, making it about as wide as a full-size laptop, but a lot shorter. Toshiba reps told me that the short stature of the screen lends itself well to using the laptop on an airplane seat tray, where vertical space is somewhat limited. Multitasking is another advantage.

Custom Window multitasking

One of my favorite advances in Windows 7 was the ability to drag a window to either side of the screen and have it auto snap to take up half the screen. Being a Windows 7 Ultrabook, the U845W is, of course, capable of this, but Toshiba has taken it a step further. Custom software is included that lets you create and choose from Window templates and then easily snap new windows into place. This is done via a small new window button next to the maximize, minimize, and X buttons on the upper right of any window. A shortcut in the task bar opens up an editor that lets you define how you’d like your windows configured, or hot swap between configurations. Of course, you can shut the feature down entirely as well.

Though the resolution is still a bit low, the wide screen seems to increase the number of useful window formations possible. Multitasking remains one of the biggest advantages of Windows over mobile operating systems, and its good to see Toshiba investing in a feature that could prove very useful.

Big sound

Having a screen this wide opens up a lot of space on either side of the keyboard. Rather than leave this space vacant, Toshiba has expanded the speakers, making the Satellite U845W one of the loudest laptops I’ve heard. There are few instances where you really need powerful speakers on your laptop, and these definitely won’t keep a party going on their own, but the Harman/Kardon speakers deliver some impressive sound for such a small package. Toshiba is calling this the “World’s first entertainment optimized Ultrabook.” Though we’re more excited by the window multitasking, the speakers help sell this claim.

Specs

The Satellite U845W meets all of Intel’s Ultrabook specs. It 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, and 1 Ethernet port. It also runs the newest Intel Core processors (codenamed Ivy Bridge) and weighs 3.5lbs (more if you beef it up).

Overall

This isn’t a laptop for everyone. Many will have issues with the super wide aspect ratio in one form or another, but it could develop a cult following if the hardware holds up. Toshiba’s multitasking software is compelling and those who travel may like having a shorter screen, even though it does lengthen the laptop. We’re not sure if we’d go for it yet or not, but with two other (less radical) Ultrabooks hitting shelves soon as well, Toshiba isn’t sacrificing much to branch out.

The Toshiba Satellite U845W will be released on July 15, 2012 and cost $1,000 and up.

Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?
Product Review

LG Gram 14 proves 2-in-1 laptops don’t need to sacrifice battery for light weight

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 aims to be very light for a laptop that converts to a tablet. And it is. But it doesn’t skimp on the battery, and so it lasts a very long time on a charge.
Computing

Don't spend a fortune on a PC. These are the best laptops under $300

Buying a laptop needn't mean spending a fortune. If you're just looking to browse the internet, answer emails, and watch Netflix, you can pick up a great laptop at a great price. These are the best laptops under $300.
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for January 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Computing

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Computing

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Computing

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.
Web

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.
Computing

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.