Toshiba: Best and Worst Laptop Brands
Occupying last place for the second time since 2013, Toshiba seems like a company that's just been going through the motions for the past several years. The last time the brand placed any higher than seventh was in 2011, when it graced fourth place. Toshiba is always at or near the cellar because of its poor-quality laptops, weak support and mediocre design.
To add insult to injury, the company preloads a lot of bloatware and makes you pay your own return shipping for defective products. Toshiba's lineup has a few bright spots, though, including an excellent Chromebook and a long-lasting 2-in-1.
Toshiba doesn't make particularly pretty laptops, but they're not ugly either; they’re just meh. Take the Kirabook 2015, which is sporting the company's Skyline design language that offers a brushed, silver, aluminum frame that's totally inoffensive. Both the Radius 14 and 15 borrow heavily from Lenovo's 360-degree hinge design, but neither really brings the wow factor of its competitor.
The Portege z30t, with its spill-resistant keyboard and drop-tested chassis, is a standout in the lineup. But you also have the Satellite C55DT, which looks premium despite its plastic shell but suffers from a sharp, upward-pointing edge that presses uncomfortably into your wrists. Ultimately, Toshiba laptops are solid products, but based on design alone, they tend to fade into the background.
With a score of 13 out of 30, Toshiba once again finished with the worst average rating in the past year. The company had five systems that earned scores of 2.5 or less. The only real bright spots for the company were its Portege Z20t, a premium 2-in-1 with over 14 hours of endurance, and its updated Chromebook 2, which improved upon the original with a brighter display and more-recent components. But as whole, the results weren't pretty.
Tech Support (16/20)
In a word, Toshiba's technical support is difficult. The company's online resources were too Windows 8-specific during our tests, and its bot-based Virtual Help Desk led us in a loop of queries with no answers in sight. We fared better on some of our phone calls with Toshiba reps, but one agent almost had us reset a notebook's BIOS when all we needed to do was uncheck a box in a preference window.
Toshiba makes you pay for your own shipping if you have to send a laptop in for repair. The company provides a vanilla one-year warranty, but unlike some competitors, Toshiba lets you upgrade your system without losing coverage.
The company preloads some useful first-party utilities, but far too much unwanted software. The Portege Z30t, Satellite Radius 15 P55W and Kirabook include My Toshiba, which lists featured partners, and an eco utility for more-prudent energy usage. The Portege adds in several security applications, including a password manager and a fingerprint utility.
Unfortunately, Toshiba piles on the most bloatware in the business, ranging from links to advertisers in the task bar to games and apps we didn't want or need. Culprits include Netflix, eBay, WinZip, Flipboard and Spotify, though that's just a small taste of what Toshiba's computers have come riddled with in the past year.
Toshiba hasn't broken a lot of new ground in the past year. The company continues to offer a number of 2-in-1s with 4K displays and styluses, but hasn't done much to stand out from the crowd, other than providing some low prices. Sometime in 2016, consumers can look forward to seeing the dynaPad, a lightweight, 12-inch Windows tablet that can serve as a laptop when you attach its optional keyboard.
Value and Selection (12/15)
Toshiba offers a wide swath of laptops, from the $270 Toshiba Chromebook 2 to the pricey, $1,700 Kirabook (2015). The company has budget laptops and 2-in-1s of all sizes well-covered, while its Tecra line provides plenty of options for businesses of all sizes. However, you won't find a serious Toshiba gaming laptop or graphics workstation with professional-grade Nvidia Quadro graphics. The company has a lot of low-cost laptops, but we couldn't find one with a 1080p display for under $750.
MORE: Best Toshiba Laptops
How Toshiba Can Improve
There's nowhere for Toshiba to go but up. The company needs to dramatically improve its laptop designs and build quality, while offering more fresh ideas. Toshiba should also dump the crapware from its systems.