The Toshiba Radius 15 is a big-screen 2-in-1 featuring premium Harmon Kardon speakers and a dedicated Cortana button for a reasonable $850. You're getting solid specs for the money, too, including an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. However, this Best Buy exclusive has a couple of trade-offs that detract from its value in the form of below-average battery life and an annoyingly sharp front lip.
Unlike the smaller Satellite Radius 14, the Radius 15 P55W features lovely brushed-metal panels both inside and out. It's a much more premium feel, and it also does a better job of combatting oil and fingerprints.
Inside, a large grille above the keyboard covers the Harmon Kardon speakers, and two big, sturdy hinges connect the rotating display to the smooth metal deck. Unfortunately, like the 14-inch model, the Radius 15 has a black plastic rim surrounding the edge of the laptop. While it's a little less annoying, due to the Radius 15's slightly larger palm rest, the raised lip still has a tendency to bite into your wrist (especially the left one) when you're typing. But it's not all pain for no gain. Toshiba says the lip is there to protect thekeyboard and whatever surface the hybrid is resting on when it's in tablet or presenation mode.
Measuring 14.9 x 9.6 x 0.79 inches and weighing 5 pounds, the Radius 15 is similar in size, although slightly heavier, than Dell's Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (15.04 x 0.94 x 0.78 inches and 4.6 pounds), and just a little bit smaller and thinner than Lenovo's business-minded ThinkPad Yoga 15 (15 x 10 x 0.82 and 5.07 pounds).
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Radius 15 features keys that are a standard 12-mm tall, which is much better than the undersized 10-mm keys we saw on its 14-inch sibling. This made typing on the Radius 15 much faster and more accurate. Even with the somewhat shallow key travel of 1.1 mm and more standard 60-gram actuation weight, I easily hit my typical typing speed of 75 words per minute on 10fastfingers.com. I also liked the useful number pad on the right.
The touchpad measures 4.25 x 2.45 inches and features a smooth, matte surface. Mousing around was responsive and very rarely jumpy, leading to an overall good experience, whether I was navigating around the desktop or using two-finger scrolling to browse the Web.
Even without the superpixel-dense resolution of its 4K sibling, the Radius 15's 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 display looks bright and sharp enough to make you forget that option even exists. When I watched the trailer for Shanghai, I loved being able to pick out the creamy off-white color of John Cusack's suit, which was contrasted brilliantly by Gong Li's vivid emerald dress.
The Radius 15's screen measured 263 nits of brightness, which is better than the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (206 nits) and the 250-nit mainstream average, but less than the superb ThinkPad Yoga (299 nits).
Color range was both broad and accurate, as the Radius 15 covered 109 percent of the sRGB spectrum while also earning a Delta-E rating of 0.81 (closer to zero is better). The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 was significantly less colorful, covering just 68.6 percent of the spectrum and was much less accurate, with a Delta-E score of 8.7. The ThinkPad Yoga 15 offered much closer competition with a gamut of 100.7 percent and a Delta-E of 1.6.
The Radius 15's Harmon Kardon speakers put out an impressive amount of volume for a laptop, but it struggled recreating some mids and many lows. In Kool and the Gang's "Summertime Madness", the deep bass warble was weak and indistinct, which sounded especially poor in contrast to the whine of the rising synth.
While the Radius 15 P55W managed to stay under our 95-degree comfort threshold on the Laptop Mag Heat Test, it wasn't by much. After streaming HD video from Hulu for 15 minutes, the underside near the vents measured 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Thankfully, the touchpad and space between the G and H keys were more pleasant, registering 81 and 84.5 degrees, respectively.
Ports and Webcam
On the left, there's a lone USB 2.0 port and a combo headphone/mic jack, while the right features an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and a SD card reader. The USB 3.0 port closest to the SD card reader also features Toshiba's Sleep and Charge tech, which allows you to power devices such as a smartphone or tablet, even when the computer is asleep or turned off.
Above the display there's a camera that takes photos and videos at 1280 x 720, but even in our well-lit office, it struggled to take a sharp picture. In a sample shot where I got photobombed by a fellow Laptop Mag writer, the Radius 15's picture was very grainy and looked like it had been run through a mosaic filter in Photoshop.
Featuring a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i5 5200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 750GB HDD, our review configuration of the Radius 15 P55W had plenty of power for everyday computing. Even when stacked up with 20 tabs open in Chrome, the Toshiba had no trouble smoothly streaming a 1080p movie from YouTube.
When we used Geekbench 3 to measure overall system performance, the Radius 15 scored 5,489. That's a bit higher than the $899 Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (5,321) and the $999 Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 (5,136), even though they both sport the same i5-5200U CPU.
In OpenOffice, the Radius 15 matched 20,000 names and addresses in 5 minutes and 42 seconds. That's about the same as the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (5:47), but a bit slower than the ThinkPad Yoga 15 (5:08).
We measured the speed of the Radius 15's 750GB hard drive at 39.15 MBps, which we determined by duplicating 4.97GB of mixed media files. However, this was much slower than both the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (130.5 MBps) and the ThinkPad Yoga 15 (103.7 MBps), due to their much speedier solid-state drives.
The Radius 15 P55W's integrated Intel HD graphics performed well when tasked with casual gaming or video editing, but it isn't meant to handle anything much more demanding. On 3DMark's Fire Strike graphics test, the Radius 15 scored an even 700. That's better than the 623 put up by the Inspiron 15 7000, but half that of the ThinkPad Yoga 15's 1,477 and its Nvidia GeForce 840M discrete graphics.
The most disappointing aspect of the 1080p Radius 15 P55W is its battery life. With fewer pixels to push than the 4K-equipped Radius 15, I was expecting a significant improvement from that system's terrible runtime of 4 hours and 52 minutes. Instead, the 1080p Radius 15's longevity increased by just 21 minutes, to 5:14 on Laptop Mag's Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness). That's worse than the already low mainstream laptop average of 5:37, and considerably shorter than other 15-inch 2-in-1s such as the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (6:14) and the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 (8:12).
The Radius P55W 15 starts at $650 for an Intel Core i5 5015U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD, which makes the base model just $150 more and a very attractive alternative to the Radius 14. Our $850 Best Buy exclusive 1080p model sits in the middle of the range with an Intel Core 5200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and an inexplicably smaller 750GB HDD. A fully specced Radius 15 comes in at $1,585 for an Intel Core i7 CPU, 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, and you can read a full review on the model here.
Software and Warranty
The Satellite Radius 15 P55W comes preloaded with Windows 10, which gives you access to new features such as Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, and automatic mode switching, which offers a different user interface, depending on where you are in tablet or laptop modes.
You also get a standard one-year warranty and preinstalled software that includes utilities from Toshiba such as PC Health Monitor for maintaining good system health, Service Station and eco Utility for enhanced energy efficiency and third-party apps such as McAfee Live Safe, Spotify and PhotoDirector.
This 1080p Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 P55W offers plenty of premium features. The brushed-metal exterior is modern and attractive, the speakers are loud and forceful, and even though the screen doesn't provide a 4K resolution, it looks just as bright and colorful as more expensive models.
Unfortunately, the laptop's poor battery life really makes it less portable than I'd like; it's like sitting down at a nice restaurant only to be told you have 10 minutes to eat. If you want a better typing experience and 3 more hours of battery life, consider the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, which costs about $100 more for a similarly specced system, which also includes an Nvidia 840M GPU. However, if you don't plan to go unplugged for several hours, the Satellite Radius 15 P55W is a strong choice.