Quick boot time; Adjustable screen angle; Fast, solid-state drive
Switching to tablet mode is awkward; Standard-definition display that's exposed when traveling; Short battery life; Runs very warm on bottom
The sliding touchscreen of the Toshiba Satellite U925t makes this an intriguing, two-in-one Windows 8 device, but it falls short.
When using Windows 8, which is better, a notebook or a tablet? Well, why not both? The Toshiba Satellite U925t can be used as a tablet, but the 12.5-inch screen slides up to reveal a backlit keyboard beneath it. Add to that a Core i5 processor and a fast SSD, and you've got a lot inside this $1,149 device.
The Sony VAIO Duo 11 employs a similar sliding method, but we slightly prefer Toshiba's for two reasons: First, although the sliding movement is awkward, you can position the U925t's screen at whatever angle you choose. With the Duo 11, you're stuck with just one angle. Second, when the display is fully extended, there are fewer exposed parts on the U925t than on the Duo 11.
That said, even though the U925t's screen is made of Gorilla Glass, we're still not comfortable leaving the display exposed and unprotected in a bag. We'd recommend using a sleeve.
Weighing 3.2 pounds, the U925t falls between the smaller Duo 11 (2.8 pounds) and the Dell XPS 12 (3.4 pounds), which also has a 12.5-inch display. Like those two, it's heavy enough so that you won't want to carry it in the crook of your arm for extended periods of time. When you use it as a tablet, you'll probably want to prop this device up in your lap.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The miniscule, 3.3 x 1.7 Synaptics touchpad was sufficient for the desktop UI, but you'll want to stick with using the touchscreen for most of your navigation. The rotate gesture was disabled by default, and you're better off leaving it that way, as it was nearly impossible to execute when enabled. The touchpad supports Windows 8 gestures, but they're turned off by default. Even after activating them, though, some of the gestures -- such as swiping in, then out, and swiping up -- did not work.
DisplayToshiba Excite 13 (1600 x 900) had a higher-resolution display.
On the plus side, colors were rich on the U925t's screen, and there was excellent contrast while watching a 720p YouTube trailer for "The Hobbit." The Shire looked green and lush, and the endless caverns beneath Middle Earth were dark and menacing.
Powered by SRS Audio technology, the two speakers on the front underside of the Satellite U925t delivered accurate, if not overly loud sound. The plaintive wail of the harmonica in Bruce Springsteen's "The Promised Land" came through clearly, but we could barely make out the bass line in Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." The speakers sounded best on a hard surface; with this hybrid in our lap, the audio sounded somewhat muffled.
After streaming a Hulu video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 76 degrees Fahrenheit, while the space between the G and H keys was 82, and the middle of the underside was 88. The middle of the touchscreen was also a temperate 78 degrees. The hottest spot -- the bottom, to the left of the vent -- measured 99 degrees, which we consider very warm. Toshiba places a sticker in this exact spot, warning that prolonged contact can cause skin damage. When in our lap, this area touched our left leg.
Tiles are divided into several sections, the first two groups of which are Windows apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Internet Explorer, Maps, Photos, Messaging, Weather, News, SkyDrive, Store and Desktop, to name a few).
You can add additional tiles by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and selecting "All Apps." Then, in the next screen, swiping down on an icon gives you options to pin it to the Start screen or taskbar, uninstall it, open in a new window, run as administrator or open file location. We highly recommend pinning the Control Panel; it's difficult to access otherwise.
Swiping from the right bezel reveals the Charms menu, which has options for Search, Share, returning to the Start screen, Devices and Settings. Swiping from the left side of the screen lets you switch between active programs; if you swipe in, then out in one motion, Windows 8 displays open programs as thumbnails along the left side.
Then, there's the Desktop mode. Selecting the Desktop tile brings you to a Windows 7-style interface, with a few notable exceptions. Instead of a Start menu in the lower left, all you get is an Internet Explorer icon, next to a file explorer. The easiest way to find programs and files is either through search or by pinning them to the Start Screen or desktop.
We liked iCookbook, which presents recipes in a very touch-friendly format with large, easy-to-read directions and mouth-watering pictures.
In order to use the 3.1-megapixel rear webcam, you must slide the screen up about two inches; we felt even more ridiculous holding up the U925t than we did using the rear-facing webcam on most Android tablets. Still, this camera took crisp and colorful photos outdoors, though it had difficulty balancing light and dark areas in the same frame.
Video footage from the rear camera looked very good. Capable of shooting at up to 1536p, details on Manhattan buildings were crisp, and the camera accurately captured their limestone facades, as well as the blue sky above.
The front-facing camera, which only takes stills of up to 1-MP, delivered predictably less-detailed results. Colors were accurate, though there was noticeable noise in even moderately lit rooms.
This system booted Windows 8 in a blazing 14 seconds, on a par with the Duo 11 (13 seconds). On our File Transfer Test (duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files), the U925t took just 34 seconds, a rate of 149.7 MBps. That's in the same league as the Duo 11 (145 MBps) and the Spectre XT (150 MBps), and far higher than the category average of 61 MBps.
The notebook took a bit longer than the competition to match 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice. Its time of 5 minutes and 54 seconds, while better than the category average of 7:29, falls behind the Duo 11 by a good two minutes.
On the left side of the keyboard deck is an NFC sensor that you can use to transfer data, such as URLs, wirelessly from another device. We like that Toshiba placed the sensor here; the Duo 11 also has an NFC sensor, but it's on the bottom, which makes it much harder to use. When we placed a Motorola Razr HD on this spot, the U925t made an NFC connection tone, and a small window appeared in the upper right-hand corner of the U925t's screen, asking us if we wanted to receive the content. We were able to beam a Google Map and a URL from the phone to the notebook, but could not transfer a photo from the Razr HD's gallery.
Hardware-wise, Toshiba only offers one configuration for the U925t. Our version, the U925t-S2300 (which costs $1,149) comes with Eco Utility, PC Health Monitor and Resolution+, the latter of which upconverts WMV and MP4 videos on Windows Media Player. The U925t-S2301 is the same price, but does not come with the aforementioned utilities.
VerdictSony VAIO Duo 11, the Toshiba Satellite U925t tries to marry a tablet and a notebook into one device, but it's not the most elegant solution. While we like that we can adjust the angle of the display, the sliding motion itself feels awkward. Furthermore, at $1,149, we expect a higher resolution screen, as with the U925t's competitors. The battery life is also short for an Ultrabook. Thankfully, there are a lot more Windows 8 notebooks to come, in all shapes and sizes.
|CPU||1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||4GB|
|Hard Drive Size||128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230|
|Touchpad Size||3.3 x 1.7 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Card Slots||2-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1-year Parts and Labor, 1-Year Battery|
|Size||12.8 x 8.4 x 0.75 inches|