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July 25, 2012
- Attractive design
- High-quality ultra-wide display
- Above average performance
- Good battery life
- Wider size may not fit in some bags
- Keyboard design issues
- Runs hot at times
Another Ultrabook has made its debut on the market and this time it's the Toshiba Satellite U845W. It sports an attractive design, a beautiful ultra-widescreen display and solid performance. It does run quite hot at times and the keyboard could use some work. In all, it's a worthy addition to the Ultrabook category.
This Ultrabook laptop is very comparable to the Lenovo IdeaPad U310, which we found to be an all-around well-designed Ultrabook. It had an attractive design and solid performance but had a sub-par display and no keyboard backlighting.
The Toshiba Satellite U845W is a little different in design compared to other Ultrabooks. It has a slightly wider format that is more like 15-inch mid-size notebooks than Ultrabooks. This extra width is to accommodate the ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio of the display (typical widescreen displays are 16:9). The U845W measures 14.5 x 7.8 x 0.7-inches (wdh) and weighs around 4-pounds. This extra width also makes fitting it into some bags a little tight, which may cause some users to require buying a wider bag.
We do like the design of the U845W, especially the brushed aluminum "Midnight Silver" finish and the rubberized black material across the top third of the lid and the entire bottom, which makes for a firm grip while carrying it. The palm rest on the inside is made of the same rubberized material.
The island-style keyboard design tries to compensate for the extra width of the computer and as a result, the keys are fairly wide and short. This results in a rather atypical layout that does cause more errors than usual. To add to that, the keys feel also fairly slippery but they are backlit, which is a must-have these days.
The multitouch pad is very spacious at 3.9 x 2.5-inches (wh) and features integrated buttons that are easy to press and are quite responsive. All the multitouch gestures that we tried worked well and felt responsive.
Toshiba's 14.4-inch display has a native resolution of 1792 x 768-pixels, which is wider than all other Ultrabook displays. This 21:9 aspect ratio allows for widescreen movies and videos to fill the screen without the black bars on the top and bottom. If the content is shot in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there will very slim black bars at the top and bottom which would be larger on a typical display. This ultra-wide display makes for a more natural viewing of today's widescreen movies.
We also found the display to be very bright and it produced a beautiful, crisp image. In our opinion, it's near the top of the list when it comes to display quality when compared to other Ultrabooks.
The port selection on the Toshiba Satellite U845W includes three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, Ethernet, the usual audio ports and an SD card slot. There is also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
Our review unit had a configuration that included an Intel Core i5-3317 (1.7GHz) third-gen CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, a 32GB SSD cache drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics.
Performance with the Toshiba U845W was quite good and seemed speedier than some other Ultrabooks that we've tested. This was confirmed by the PCMark 7 benchmark result of 4480, which is over 1000 higher than the Dell XPS 14. Boot-up times were very fast thanks to the 32GB solid-state drive and gaming was a tad better than the category average. While you can't play some of today's 3D games, this laptop does let you play some of them at mild graphics settings but don't buy this laptop if you're looking to do a lot of gaming.
On a side note, we noticed that this computer got uncomfortably hot right in the middle of the underside after about 30 minutes of HD video playback and during other intensive tasks.
The U845W's battery life maxed out at about 7.25-hours, which is about an hour above the Ultrabook category average.
For more Ultrabook and notebook computer reviews, visit our Notebook Reviews page.