Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 review

The best 4K screen on a portable, stylish, hybrid Ultrabook

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Our Verdict

While this 12-inch 2-in-1 laptop boasts one of the best-looking Ultra HD displays and impressive performance, it has major flaws to fix.

For

  • Smart design and ergonomics
  • Incredibly colorful screen
  • Peppy performance

Against

  • Strange keyboard layout
  • Dismal battery life

Toshiba notebooks and 4K screens almost seem mutually exclusive. Just about every laptop in the Japanese electronic firm's portfolio comes with an Ultra HD (UHD) option.

The Satellite Radius 12 comes as the company's latest and smallest convertible laptop yet to go 4K. The 12.5-inch Ultrabook features a stunningly vibrant and sharp screen with a claim to fame of being Technicolor certified.

Of course, in today's Ultrabook world, high-resolution displays have become commonplace, with stiff competition from the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo Yoga 900. Although all three notebooks are outfitted with nearly the same hardware, down to an identical Intel Core i7 processor, the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 comes out on top in some regards.

However, this small convertible notebook also has a handful of disappointing missteps that hold it back from Ultrabook perfection.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 review

Design

Much like its larger sibling, the Satellite Radius 15, the Radius 12 is a gorgeous, modernly designed machine. The exterior is completely wrapped with dark, brushed aluminum.

The all metal body is also accented with bits of black, rubbery plastic you'll find along the edges. The extra bit of rubber at the rear of the Radius 12 is an especially nice touch, as it adds a soft and grippable texture for towing around the laptop.

On the interior of this notebook, the bottom lip of the screen juts out enough to comfortably rest your thumb against it while using the device as a tablet. Thanks to its small, 12.5-inch screen size and relatively light, 3-pound weight, this is one hybrid device you'll be able to use regularly as a Windows 10 tablet, too.

The laptop's overall look is stately, reserved and sophisticated. From a distance, it looks like a plain and uncommonly thin business laptop. The Radius 12 won't catch much attention in the office, and that's not something I can say about the flashier Dell XPS 13, with its unique 11-inch chassis or the Lenovo Yoga 900's blinged-out watchband hinge.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 review

Bad touch

Although Toshiba made some smart decisions with the Radius 12's aesthetic and ergonomics, this machine has a quirky keyboard.

Given its 12.5-inch screen, the keyboard is understandably smaller, but the keys are frustratingly short both in terms of key travel and the physical shape of the keys. Every letter and punctuation mark key seems a bit squished – but there's plenty of room along the sides and above the top of the keyboard deck for larger buttons.

Even the keyboard's layout has been rearranged in an odd fashion, starting with the tilde key, which has been repositioned beside the left alt key. Meanwhile, dedicated page up and down keys were haphazardly jammed just above the arrow keys into the space typically reserved for the right shift key.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 review

Thankfully, the trackpad was spared any size reduction and it's actually spacious and responsive for navigating the laptop's 12.5-inch screen. That said, this broad pointing device is only made with plastic, so it lacks the same smoothness of a glass touchpad found on Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 or the Surface Book. Instead, the touchpad is actually textured with a brushed finish.

The coarse pattern is a helpful touch to inform you of any accidental cursor movements should you accidentally glide your fingers across the touchpad.