Toshiba Satellite Click Mini review: The netbook (sort of) returns
Portability and practicality can be a tough balancing act, especially for a hybrid design that has to work in both laptop and tablet configurations. However, for less than £200 – a fraction of the price of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 – the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini gets plenty right.
The Toshiba Satellite Click Mini is a dinky little convertible PC with an 8.9in touchscreen. It’s quite professional in its looks, although perhaps a little dull – it’s basically a silver-grey plastic rectangle. Still, at less than 10in across, and weighing just under a kilogram, it’s perfectly suited to users on the go.
Open up the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini and you’ll see a prominent eject button in the middle of the hinge. Press it and the screen detaches easily from the keyboard, leaving a standalone Windows tablet. Re-attaching simply involves slotting the bottom of the tablet back onto the two metal teeth. The dock feels sturdy, but doesn’t allow the screen to be tilted back more than 135 degrees: try to use the Click Mini on your lap and it can feel like you’re looming above the screen instead of looking directly at it.
In tablet mode, the Click Mini is light and responsive. The 8.9in screen can feel a little small next to the 10in Asus Transformer Chi T100, for example, and certainly isn’t helped by the thick bezel, which wouldn’t be as noticeable on a larger screen. The top-left corner of the tablet becomes quite warm with prolonged use, but for casual browsing the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini feels comfortable in the hand.
The Click Mini’s size also impacts on its usefulness as a regular laptop. For taking the occasional note it’s fine, but since the compact chassis dictates a small-scale keyboard, expect to spend time accidentally hitting the wrong buttons.
Another frustration is the unresponsive trackpad: too often I found a smooth swipe along its surface resulted in the cursor juddering across the screen. In fact, it was such a pain that I resorted to using the touchscreen when working for longer periods. This isn’t the ideal solution, however.
Although the second battery in the keyboard lends it some weight, pushing against the screen still resulted in tipping the whole machine backwards. After a few hours of experiencing the keyboard rocking back and forth against the surface of the table I ended up detaching it entirely and opting to use the Click Mini solely in tablet mode.
If you’re not on the move, however, you can connect an external keyboard to the USB 2 port on the keyboard base. Or, you can connect one directly to the tablet via its micro-USB port, with a suitable USB OTG adapter. Note that you’ll be unable to charge it at the same time, however, since this port is also used for power.
Screen quality and performance
The Satellite Click Mini’s greatest strength is its screen, which is better than you’d expect from a device of this size and price. Its 1,920 x 1,200-pixel resolution is far sharper than the 1,366 x 768 common in screens of this size, and provides real high definition for a budget price. A brightness of 313cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,015:1 help the display look vibrant both indoors and outdoors: despite the screen’s small size, it packs a punch when browsing photos or watching videos.
Performance is more in line with our expectations of a budget convertible. The Satellite Click Mini uses a 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage. It’s perfectly capable of handling internet browsing, basic office tasks and even lightweight games, but heavy-duty multitasking are beyond its capabilities. Even though the Atom is a quad-core processor, the Toshiba achieved a score of only 3 in our multitasking benchmark, dragging its overall benchmark score down to 10.
On the plus side, that low-power processor, plus the dual-battery design, helped the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini perform well in our battery tests. In laptop mode it lasted just over nine hours, looping video constantly with the screen brightness set to 120cd/m2.
Connectivity is unremarkable: 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 are supported. As mentioned already, a USB 2 port sits on the keyboard base, as well as a full-sized SD card slot. On the tablet part of the device you’ll find a micro-USB connector, a microSD slot – offering an easy way to expand the limited integrated storage – as well as a micro-HDMI port and a headphone/microphone combo jack.
There’s also a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera and speakers on either side of the tablet. The unit we tested came loaded with Windows 8.1 (Windows 10 will doubtless be preloaded once the current batch of stock sells out) and a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal.
The Toshiba Satellite Click Mini isn’t a powerhouse, nor a triumph of elegant design, but for the price it’s an impressive device nonetheless. Those planning to do serious work should consider a device with a better keyboard and touchpad: the HP Stream 11, for example, lacks the tablet-mode option but is more comfortable to type on for longer periods. But if what you want is a lightweight Windows tablet with a great screen and a snap-on keyboard, the Satellite Click Mini will make a great, low-cost addition to your backpack.