Toshiba Satellite U920t review

Price when reviewed

Windows 8 hasn’t been out long, but it’s already having an impact on the hardware market, with a swathe of innovative touchscreen portables and PCs launched in recent months. Toshiba is the latest to join in the fun with its 12.5in Satellite U920t.

It’s one of the new laptop/tablet hybrid brigade: a device that can be used as a laptop, complete with full-sized keyboard and touchpad, but with a screen that folds flat against its chassis, so it can also be used as a tablet.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

It sounds exciting, and to find it’s slim enough at 20mm to be classified as an Ultrabook is encouraging, but get the Satellite U920t in your hands and it seems entirely less thrilling. To start with it’s too heavy. At 1.5kg it’s 200g heftier than the only other Windows 8 hybrid we’ve seen so far – the Sony VAIO Duo 11 – and it’s a bit of a lump compared to most standard Ultrabooks as well. Pick it up and your first instinct is to rest it on something; we certainly wouldn’t want to use it one-handed.

It makes much more sense in laptop mode. To transform it, you slide the screen slowly up, exposing the keyboard, then when it stops, haul it up into position. The mechanism feels cumbersome compared to the lighter, pivoting screen on the Duo 11, but it’s solid enough and does have one key advantage over its rival: the angle of the screen is adjustable.

Toshiba Satellite U920t

The larger size of the U920t also means there’s plenty of room for a keyboard and touchpad, where the VAIO has only a trackpoint. The keyboard is sensibly laid out, and a stiff base means typing is comfortable whether you’re using it on a desk or propped up on your lap.

The touchpad is less pleasing. It has a smooth surface and it’s responsive enough, but the small size and horribly narrow integrated buttons make it fiddly to use. It lacks support for Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures; the only gestures that do work are the two-fingered scroll and pinch to zoom in and out. Disappointingly, there’s no sign of a stylus either.

Happily, the rest of the design is far more practical. The screen housing feels robust and it resisted our attempts at twisting it admirably. The base is creaky, but again flex-free, and with the screen folded flat against the chassis things tighten up even further. Considering this isn’t a standard laptop design, we’re rather impressed with how well Toshiba has managed to screw everything together.

If there’s one aspect we’re not so keen on, it’s the U920t’s appearance. With an Ultrabook we expect brushed metal, smooth curves and sleek lines, but this is a rather butch and angular affair, built all from plastic. An ugly muddle of textured and grey finishes contrasts awkwardly with the glossy, glass edge-to-edge touchscreen display, and the only saving grace is the rubbery coating on the rear. This makes it less slippery in the hand than if it had been finished in smooth aluminium.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions326 x 213 x 20mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i3-3217U
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size12.5in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
HDMI outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity119GB
Hard diskSamsung PM830 SSD
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating3.0mp
Fingerprint readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 40min
3D performance (crysis) low settings29fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.51
Responsiveness score0.60
Media score0.56
Multitasking score0.37

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8

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