Toshiba Satellite U920t convertible notebook review

Toshiba Satellite U920t

Price: $1390  |  Web:

Toshiba’s take on the convertible tablet/ultrabook uses a very similar sliding mechanism to Sony’s Duo 11 with the screen sliding upwards and then away from the keyboard. However it lacks the ugly brackets that keep the Duo 11’s screen stable as a rock instead relying on a very stiff hinge to keep the monitor rigid when it’s upright. It’s a compromise between aesthetics and functionality but the U920t pulls it off nicely – the screen is reassuringly firm when touched and angle-adjustable yet it looks much nicer than the complex system used on the Sony.

The 12.5-inch screen makes this one of the larger convertibles using the same 1366 x 768 resolution favoured by the budget end of town. For most users this will be fine but designers and photographers will probably prefer the true HD resolution offered elsewhere. The Gorilla Glass finish suggests it’ll handle a beating without getting bruised while the 10-point multitouch display means the screen can be used as a virtual piano one of the only applications that we can imagine needs so many points of contact. Despite the lower resolution the IPS display here is one of the better ones we’ve seen with excellent image quality across the board. Once again we see a glossy finish employed and despite the anti-smudging tech provided by the Gorilla Glass our sample was soon covered in fingerprints. If you do end up buying a touch-enabled PC a cleaning cloth will be your first must-have accessory.

Unlike the rock-hard glass used on the display the rest of the machine is built from plastic. It doesn’t look as cheap as other plastic convertibles thanks to the faux carbon fibre finish but it feels thinner than the plastic found on the Lenovo Twist. The keyboard is extremely slim with the entire unit a mere 20mm deep with the screen down and we were pleased to see very little keyboard flex when typing. The backlit keyboard isn’t quite full-sized but it’s definitely easier to use than smaller hybrid tablets even though key travel is a little short for our liking. Compared to the lightweight 10.1-inch tablets the 1.5kg weight of the U920t is rather heavy but that’s the price paid for the larger form factor.

Once again we see Intel’s Core i5-3317U wheeled out to handle the heavy lifting and performance was bang on where we expected it to be thanks to the inclusion of an SSD which was a very healthy 256GB in size. Another 4GB of memory rounds out the solid internal specifications. Surprisingly the bloatware that comes preinstalled on this machine – our review sample had over 10 different applications set to start every time the machine boots – didn’t impact negatively on performance. Battery life was also exactly where we’d expect for a device of this size and spec with the unit showing similar results to other 12.5-inch convertibles at 165 minutes. The inclusion of a GPS is a nice touch for road warriors but you’ll need to tether it to your phone due to the lack of cellular data connectivity.

Toshiba has packed in a few added extras that help to justify the slightly higher price here namely a large SSD and GPS. Combined with a decent screen and excellent hinge the U920t is a rather compelling convertible.

Pros : Excellent display solid sliding hinge GPS.
Cons : Plastic construction no 3G/4G connectivity.
Rating : 8 out of 10. Highly recommended.