Toshiba Satellite U920T review

Can Toshiba's hybrid take the market by storm?

Toshiba Satellite U920T
Ooh, slidey

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The Toshiba Satellite U920t features an Intel Core i3 3217U processor in the UK model, which is relatively underpowered when compared to the competition. The US and Australian versions come with a Core i5 3317U as standard, which is better but still not the best.

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Dell XPS 12 both come in Intel Core i7 flavours, which offer substantially improved performance over the i3 chip. While the Core i3 is your average family car, the Core i7 is the racing version with nitrous oxide.

Needless to say that people looking for top performance will find the Toshiba Satellite falls short of their needs, and if you expect to run a full version of Photoshop and use other demanding and creative applications, then you should look elsewhere.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

The price also means that the Toshiba may not offer the best bang for your buck. £899 for the Intel Core i3 version is some way behind the Sony Vaio Duo 11, which offers the same form factor and Intel Core i5 processor for just £100 more. The Duo 11 costs AU$1,499/US$1,199.99 compared to the AU$1,699/US$1,149 price of the Core i5 Toshiba U920t.

The Toshiba Satellite U920t also features 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD drive in the UK and US models, which is again identical to the Sony. The Australian version features 256GB SSD storage.

The 4GB of RAM is more than enough for Windows 8, but the operating system's footprint wipes 20GB from the installation, and the formatting also eats 20GB. That means you start with an 80GB hard drive (in the UK and US), which is tight for anyone with large amounts of apps, programs and files.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

The Toshiba Satellite U920t also only features a 1366 x 768 IPS touchscreen, which is eons behind the competition in terms of quality. The Sony Vaio and Dell both pack in 1080p panels, which is great for apps and movies.

And to make things worse, the Toshiba's screen is dull and lifeless. There's no problem with graininess and you won't notice the difference working on text documents, but our movie tests looked flat in comparison.

The panel is Gorilla Glass, making it resistant to drops, falls and scratches. This is extremely important, because the tablet-like form factor of the Toshiba when it's flattened means that the screen is open to damage, unlike normal laptop screens that are hidden inside the clamshell design.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

As a touchscreen, we also found that it didn't pack the sensitivity we've become accustomed to on other hybrid computers. Hitting small elements within the 'classic' Windows 8 design was sometimes hit and miss, and we were glad to have the trackpad as a backup.

Being from the Satellite range, the Toshiba U920t is a consumer-focused laptop rather than business. However, that doesn't mean it's short of connections. There are two USB 3.0 ports, which is good news for people with compatible external storage. One of these also has the power to charge devices when the U920t is asleep. Aside from the USB connectivity, there's a full-sized HDMI port and an SD card slot.

If there's one black mark against the Toshiba's name, it's the general build quality. The textured finish might be grippy, but it looks dated, and the rounded curves aren't exactly eye-catching. It's chunky when closed, and being able to see the notched runners at the back doesn't offer an alluring look.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

One detail that typifies the whole build is the power button. It's used to wake the Toshiba U920t from sleep, firing up the Windows Start Screen after a period of inactivity, but it's small, sharp and tough to find. It shows that the whole Toshiba Satellite U920t screams function over style, and that feels like a backward step in the world of super-desirable PCs.

The keyboard itself is backlit and well spaced, but the keys have minimal travel. They do feel noticeably smaller, and it took us time to master typing at speed without making regular mistakes.

It's more comfortable than the Acer Aspire S7, which is an achievement given that the S7 is a full-form Ultrabook that doesn't offer tablet functionality. However, it's far less comfortable than the Dell XPS 12, and regular typists might find the drop in comfort is a deal-breaker.

Toshiba Satellite U920t