Toshiba has given its Satellite U845 Ultrabook a facelift with Windows 8. This update includes a touch screen display, more memory, a speedier Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, and a 128GB SSD. Better still, Toshiba kept the same sleek aluminum body, not to mention the competitive price of $729. Find out why the Satellite U845T-S4165 is one of the best Windows 8 Ultrabook values.
As with last year's Ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U845T-S4165 has a slim and elegant design. Encased in smooth brushed aluminum, it's pleasing to the touch and has a keyboard deck and lid that exude a crisp shine. The 14-inch widescreen display is framed with a black plastic bezel that contrasts the laptop's titanium grey body, and a gleaming power button sits just underneath the screen.
The U845T-S4165's display and keyboard deck are hinged together subtly; there's no clunky binding or seam to detract from its sleek design.
This Ultrabook's 13.5 x 9.1 x 0.8-inch body fit perfectly on our lap. At 3.6 pounds, the Satellite is lighter than both HP's Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 (4.6 pounds, 13.5 x 9.3 x 0.9 inches) and Acer's Aspire M5-481PT-6488 (4.4 pounds, 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.9 inches).
Keyboard and Touchpad
The U845T-S4165's backlit island-style keyboard is resistant to spills, and the roomy keyboard deck leaves just the right amount of space to rest your wrists. However, the keys are shorter than what you'll find on some other layouts. For example, the MacBook Air's keys are 1.5 cm high, compared to 1.3 cm for the Toshiba.
Despite this drawback, we notched a solid 72 words per minute with 0 percent error during the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, which surpasses the 70 wpm we achieved on our desktop. That doesn't mean typing was comfortable, however. In addition to the relatively short keys, the layout exhibited some flex while typing.
We found the 3.9 x 2.4-inch touchpad on the U845t to be fluid and smooth. Both the left and right side of the pad responded well to our clicks. This made it easy to be precise and accurate when highlighting text or making selections. Pinch to zoom worked well in Google's Chrome browser, but lagged when trying to zoom back out. Swiping in from the left edge (to switch apps) and from the right edge (to activate the Charms menu) worked smoothly.
Display and Audio
The Satellite U845T-S4165 features a 14.1-inch touch screen with your typical 1366 x 768 resolution. When watching the trailer for "Oz The Great and Powerful" on the glossy display, details came through clearly with little noise. The beady little eyes of one of Oz's winged creatures glistened on screen, and colorful scenes were depicted with plenty of depth. We didn't notice much glare when viewing footage from wide angles, but the display was reflective during darker and more shadowy clips.
However, the screen didn't fare well during our brightness test. Registering 174 lux on our light meter, the U845T-S4165 fell below the ultraportable category average of 227 lux. This is still brighter than the display on Acer's Aspire M5 (134 lux) and HP's Envy TouchSmart 4 (114 lux).
We scrolled around the U845T's touchscreen smoothly with no lag. Pinch-to-zoom was much more responsive on the touch screen than it was on the trackpad, and we breezed through the Windows 8 interface with ease.
The Satellite's bottom-mounted speakers delivered passable sound during our testing. The speakers got fairly loud when we listened to "Some Nights" by Fun, and the instrumentals and vocals came through clearly. However, the overall sound was somewhat hollow and distant; the audio improved when we changed the setting from Music to Movie in the SRS Premium Sound control panel.
The U845T-S4165 managed to stay relatively cool during our testing. After streaming a video on Hulu for 15 minutes, the touchpad registered 76 degrees Fahrenheit. The area between the G and H keys got significantly warmer at 93 degrees, and the laptop's underside registered a cool 81 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be a cause for concern.
Toshiba equipped the Satellite U845T-S4165 with all the ports you need. The left side features headphone and microphone jack, a USB 3.0 port, a lock slot, an HDMI jack and the charging jack. On the right, you'll find a memory card reader, two USB 2.0 jacks, and an Ethernet port.
The Toshiba Satellite U845T-S4165's HD webcam captured generally clean photos in well-lit environments. After taking some test shots we found that images looked lively and bright in natural lighting, but looked more pixelated in fluorescent light.
The Toshiba Satellite U845T-S4165's 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor with 6GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD performed well when executing day-to-day tasks. Apps launched almost instantaneously with eight tabs open in Google's Chrome browser. We streamed "Bob's Burger's" on Hulu with no lag while running six other applications.
The U845T-S4165 boots up fast--it only took 11 seconds to load Windows 8, which is much faster than the 43-second thin-and-light category average. By comparison, the Acer Aspire M5 took 16 seconds to boot and the HP's Envy TouchSmart 4 took 13.2 seconds.
When it came to benchmarking tests, the U845T-S4165 delivered speedy results across the board. On PCMark7, the Toshiba scored 4,798, surpassing the 2,901 category average, as well as the HP TouchSmart 4 (4,131) and the Acer Aspire M5 (3,100), both of which have similar Core i5 processors.
During the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, the Satellite U845T-S4165's 128GB SSD duplicated 5GB of multimedia files in 1 minute and 4 seconds, equaling a rate of 79.5 MBps. That's more than three times as fast as the Acer Aspire M5 (22 MBps) and the Samsung Series 5 Ultratouch (28 MBps), and nearly double the category average of 44 MBps.
The Satellite also did well in our Open Office Spreadsheet test. It took 5 minutes and 26 seconds for the Toshiba laptop to match 20,000 names to their addresses, 30 seconds faster than the 5:56 category average, and beating both the HP TouchSmart 4 (5:36) and Acer Aspire M5 (6:08).
The U845T's Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU performed moderately well during our tests. The notebook scored 673 on 3DMark11, slightly below the 724 category average but just outperforming both the HP (545) and Acer (617).
When playing "World of Warcraft" on autodetect settings, the U845T-S4165 notched a playable 32.6 frames per second, compared to the HP TouchSmart's 28 fps and Acer M5's 37 fps. As we bumped up the settings to full, the U845T-S4165's frame rate dropped to 16.9 fps, below the 24 fps average.
We're pleasantly surprised that a touch Ultrabook can last this long on a charge. During the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuously surfing the Web over Wi-Fi, the Satellite U845T-S4165 lasted an impressive 7 hours and 39 minutes. This beats the HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 (5:36) and Acer Aspire M5 (6:03) by a significant margin and blows past the 6:26 category average.
Software and Warranty
The Toshiba Satellite U845T comes with a suite of third-party apps. Hulu, Netflix, eBay, Skype and iHeartRadio are all included on the Windows 8 home screen.
When navigating to the standard desktop, you'll find Toshiba's typical bundle of utilities. The Desktop Assistant lets you manage the laptop's media settings, set keyboard shortcuts, create a password to protect certain text files, or enable power save mode. PC Health Monitor displays power consumption and temperature.
Toshiba backs the U845T-S4165 with a standard one-year warranty that covers hardware and battery repairs or replacements. See how the company fared on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brand report.
Our $729 review configuration of the Satellite U845T-S4165 comes with a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Toshiba also offers the S4155 model, which has the same price, processor, and RAM, but switches out the 128GB SSD for a 500GB HDD and 32GB SSD cache. We say go with the SSD.
With the Satellite U845T-S4165, Toshiba has successfully combined fast Core i5 performance, an SSD and a touch screen for a reasonable price. Best of all, this Ultrabook lasts 7.5 hours on a charge, outlasting most other touch Ultrabooks. Although the keyboard literally falls short, this 14-inch Windows 8 notebook richly deserves its 4-star rating. Those looking for a laptop they can carry around all day would do well with the Satellite U845T.