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.

Product Review

Dell's XPS 15 is the PC every laptop wishes it could be

Not everyone needs the power that a laptop like the Dell XPS 15 provides. But if you need a computer that can handle the heavy workload you use every day, the XPS 15 might be the best you can buy.
Product Review

Recent production woes make the Eve V a worse buy than it once was

Our Eve V review looks at a crowdsourced detachable tablet that checks some boxes for its backers. Its delay in making it to the market holds it back in some areas, and Eve Technology is an unknown quantity.
Computing

Windows 10 can split and resize windows with ease. Here's how to do it

Windows 10 is a great desktop operating system, and its many window management features are part of the reason why. Here's how to divvy up windows using Snap Assist and other native tools.
Deals

For work or for play, these are the 5 best laptop deals for college students

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the five best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming…
Product Review

Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe (late 2017) review

As our Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe (late 2017) review shows, adding an 8th-gen Intel Core processor to an excellent thin and light chassis makes for a great combination.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for something without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses with one of these handy services.
Computing

Logitech’s distinctive new ergonomic mouse looks as good as it feels

Logitech's first true ergonomic mouse sports an interesting tilted design that encourages less muscle strain. We spent some time with the MX Vertical to see how comfortable it is and determine whether or not we'd prefer it to a standard…
Computing

Both the Razer Blade and XPS 15 are capable laptops, but which is better?

We pit the latest Dell XPS 15 against the latest Razer Blade 15 to see which machine meets the needs of most people. Both are a fast, attractive, and well-built, but they still appeal to different users.
Computing

Use one of these password managers to stay safe online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper passcode manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options. Find the right password software…
Mobile

Airport’s low-tech solution to digital chaos involves the humble whiteboard

A U.K. airport has suffered a major computer error, caused by data connection problems, which has stopped flight boards from showing crucial passenger information. The solution is wonderfully low-tech.
Computing

Here’s how to watch Nvidia’s GeForce event at Gamescom

Today is August 20, and that means Nvidia may showcase its GeForce RTX 20 Series of add-in graphics cards for gamers. We’re sticking with that name rather than the previous GTX 11 Series brand due to today’s date.
Computing

HTC breaks down VR barriers by bringing Oculus Rift titles to Viveport

HTC's Viveport store and subscription service will be opened to Oculus Rift users in September this year, letting them buy titles directly and take advantage of the monthly game-delivery service.
Computing

Dell’s new fast-refresh Freesync display could be your next great gaming screen

Dell has debuted a pair of new gaming TN displays, each offering high refresh rates and fast response times to gamers alongside Freesync technology. There are 24- and 27-inch versions of the new screens available now.
Computing

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20 Series starts at $500 and features real-time ray tracing

Nvidia revealed its new GeForce RTX 2000 Series of add-in desktop graphics cards for gamers during its pre-show Gamescom press event. The new family is based on Nvidia’s new “Turing” architecture focusing on real-time ray tracing.