Toshiba Satellite U920t-108 review

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Toshiba Satellite U920t-108
There have been many different approaches to the laptop-tablet hybrid since the introduction of Windows 8. The Asus Taichi went for two individual screens, while the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist and Dell XPS 12 used hinges and pivots. The Toshiba Satellite U920t-108 is probably the most impressive from an engineering point-of-view, with the touchscreen tilting back to flat and then sliding down over the keyboard to create a large tablet.

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 converts to a tablet in a similar fashion, but it only goes half-way back - which limits the space for the keyboard. The U920t-108's has its sliding mechanism built in to the back of the screen, and this leaves a lot more room for input devices. It's also a very elegant and straight forward way of converting your laptop into a tablet. Closed, the U920t-108 is a 20mm thick tablet with a 12.5in touchscreen - the same size as the XPS 12's. The textured soft-touch surface on the back makes it very comfortable to hold. Its bright, glossy screen is a pleasure to view, even though it only has a relatively low 1,366x768 resolution.

Its glossy finish can create reflections, and the display picks up fingerprints too easily, but its excellent contrast levels and rich, vivid colours more than make up for it. The only disappointing part of the screen is its surprisingly poor viewing angles, and we only got the best view by looking at it straight on. The touchscreen always faces outwards, which means it isn't particularly well protected in transit. It's made from hardened Gorilla Glass, so it shouldn't get scratched too easily, but we still
recommend using a carry case to minimize potential damage. Slide the screen back, and the U920t-108 is a comfortable, if slightly small, laptop.

A good part of the keyboard panel is taken up by the sliding mechanism, which leaves the keyboard and the all-in-one touchpad feeling rather cramped. Its bouncy Chiclet-style keys are all full-size and well spaced, but the wrist rest is tiny, leaving very little room for your hands. The touchpad's accurate and responsive, but clicking requires alot more force than is typical. As for its performance, the Satellite U920t-108 boots Windows 8 incredibly quickly thanks to its 128GB SSD, but its 1.8GHz Intel Core i3-3217U processor and 4GB of RAM only scored 32 overall in our multimedia benchmarks. This is quite low, even for a Core i3 processor, putting it on par with the Asus VivoBook S200 , a touchscreen laptop that's roughly half the price of the U920t-108.

It's slightly better than the VivoBook S200 when it comes to gaming, though, as its integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset just about managed 17fps in our Dirt Showdown test on High quality settings and a 720p resolution. You'll still have to lower the settings and disable anti-aliasing to get anywhere near a more playable 30fps, but this will be good news to anyone hoping to play something more substantial than the games currently on offer in the Windows 8 Store. Its battery life is above average, lasting just over 5 hours away from the mains in our light use tests with the screen set to half brightness, although the Vivobook S200 outlasted it with a battery life of 5 hours and 26 minutes.

As is common with this style of laptop, the U920t-108 is a little short on I/O ports. It has two USB3 ports, an HDMI port for connecting it to an external display, a four-in-one card reader and a combined headphone and microphone jack, but you'll have to rely on its built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi if you want to get online as it only has a Fast Ethernet port, not Gigabit Ethernet. The Toshiba U920t-108 is a very elegant way of addressing the sliding tablet dilemma, but ultimately, the price is just too high for the hardware contained within - we'd go with the Dell XPS 12 instead. If you just want a touchscreen laptop, consider the Budget Buy-winning Asus VivoBook S200 .

It may not turn into a tablet, but it's half the price and has similar performance.
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