Toshiba Satellite U925t Review: Wild Design, Weak Execution

Ultrabooks have started to look the same. For a moment, so did Windows 8 convertibles. Then, along came Toshiba—a company still willing to make weird stuff. Just get a load of this strange little Satellite U925t convertible.

What Is It

A 12.5-inch tablet/laptop convertible with a sliding, folding hinge mechanism.

Who Is It For

People who want a Windows 8 laptop and a gigantic tablet in a single machine.

Design

The U925t opens up less like a computer and more like Transformers action figure. The screen slides back, away from your body, folds upwards, and then boom—there's your laptop.

Using It

It's hard to get used to not opening and closing the screen like a clamshell. It looks like it should fold shut like normal, but the screen locks at a certain point. More than once, I tried to close the U925t like a regular laptop and almost ruined it. Other people tried to open it like a normal laptop.

The trackpad is actually very accurate, and has a nice grainy finish that makes it nice to touch. But because the hinge mechanism takes up some of its space, it's very undersized. This affects how you use the machine. Everything is claustrophobic in the keyboard and trackpad area, so you end up using the touchscreen more, but more by design more than decision. With the Lenovo Yoga or Dell XPS 12, you might choose to reach up and touch one of the very touchable Modern apps. With this machine, you're compelled to.

The relatively low-res 1366x768 display doesn't help there. If you had your hands all over a beautiful screen, you might be fine with it, but the standard def screen feels like being stuck in a bad marriage.

Toshiba Satellite U925t Review: Wild Design, Weak Execution

The Best Part

The build quality. Goofy as its hinge is, the Satellite U925t is very solidly made. You're never afraid you're going to break it (unless you accidentally shove the screen the wrong way). The rubberized backside is really comfortable to hold. It's still bigger than you'd want a default tablet to be, but you can at least imagine someone at an office picking it up and using it on the go.

Tragic Flaw

The general premise. The Satellite U925t doesn't add up in its state of rest—before you activate the unconventional hinge to turn it into a laptop, it's just a gigantic tablet sitting in your hands. A humongous slate just doesn't make a whole lot of sense, really.

Toshiba Satellite U925t Review: Wild Design, Weak Execution

This Is Weird...

The power button is on the rear of the left-hand side, but its indicator light is on the front right. It makes powering down a little confusing.

Test Notes

  • The screen not bending forward all the way is a bigger deal than it might seem. For example, if you're sitting on your couch with the laptop on your thighs, Toshiba is assuming that you're going to be using the U925t in tablet mode. But resting it in laptop mode would be more convenient a lot of times, since you don't have to hold onto it.
  • The exposed hinge work on the rear of the laptop when it's open never bothered me, but for some people, it will be a big turn off.
  • The keyboard is solid. But the keys are a little stiff.
  • Gestures don't seem to be activated on the trackpad.
  • NFC pairing (the sensor is on the left front of the keyboard layer) worked seamlessly, and loaded content right up.
  • Its battery lasted 2 hours, 11 minutes in our rigorous wood-chipper of a battery test. That's on the short end of spectrum compared to other recent convertibles.
  • We've noted that some of these machines are running hot, but while doing heavier tasks like gaming, this one ran HOT.
  • Compared to super fast touchscreens, this one has a slight lag when using some of the gestures on the touchscreen. But they were rarely lost, so consider this in the middle of the pack.

Toshiba Satellite U925t Review: Wild Design, Weak Execution

Should You Buy It?

There are a few cases where the Satellite would make sense for you. If you needed a huge, durable tablet to carry around your office and still be a fully functional laptop, this could work. It is slightly more comfortable to use in that form than the XPS 12 or Yoga 13. But for comparable prices, you could go with those machines to get a better screen or laptop experience.

We applaud Toshiba's non-standard ideas. We liked the super wide ultrabooks. But it's unlikely you want to come aboard the Satellite—the creative thinking is just not implemented well enough to recommend yet.

Toshiba Satellite U925T Specs


Display: 12-inch, 1366x768
Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5
Memory: 4GM RAM
Storage: 128GB SSD
Dimensions:
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Ports: 2 USB 3.0, HDMI
Price: $1149
Gizrank: 2.5 Stars