Toshiba Satellite U845W-S410 review: Toshiba Satellite U845W-S410

The display's color quality and brightness are good, but not great. Off-axis viewing angles are poor, and considering the U845W's extra-wide display, that means that extreme corners of the screen begin to wash out when you look at it head-on. Black levels weren't sharp, either. I wish the display had been of a higher quality, considering the ultrabook is geared to be a high-end entertainment machine.

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Making up the difference are a pair of excellent Harman Kardon stereo speakers mounted in grilles on either side of the keyboard. They sound almost as good as the premium speakers often seen in higher-end Toshiba Satellites, but bass notes seemed to distort at high volume. SRS virtual surround settings add extra depth, and helped immerse me in the movies I watched on the U845W.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I started with a discussion of screen and speakers because, let's face it, that's what this laptop is all about. The keyboard and touch pad aren't standouts. The raised keyboard's backlit keys feel stretched out, but keys on the Portege series of laptops had the same narrow feel. Added columns of Page Up/Down buttons cramp access to more useful Enter/Shift keys, and I ended up missing more than normal when touch-typing. A row of function-reversed keys control volume and screen brightness, sans annoying beeps. The wide multitouch Synaptics click pad beneath worked well and offered lots of space for two- and three-finger gestures, but the clicking action sometimes felt stiff.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Toshiba Satellite U845W-S410 Average for category [13-inch]
Video HDMI HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 3.0, (one w/power-off charge), SD card reader 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive None DVD burner

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You get the standard set of ports and connections on the Satellite U845W, most notably an Ethernet jack that folds out from the side, USB 3.0, and HDMI. What you don't get is an optical drive. Most people don't use them anyway, but a movie-targeted ultrabook like the U845W almost cries out for Blu-ray compatibility. You can plug in a separate USB DVD drive, but you won't ever want to.

My $999 reviewed configuration includes a third-gen Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a hybrid hard drive comprising a 500GB hard drive paired with 32GB of SSD storage for system files. Boot-up times are somewhat improved with a hybrid hard drive: a cold boot took about 25 seconds, but that's still not as fast as an SSD-only laptop. My $999 version, the U845W-S410, is the lowest-priced version of the Satellite U845W. Other configurations offer up to a Core i7 processor, Windows 7 Professional, and a 256GB SSD, topping out at $1,564.

The included 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor is an Ivy Bridge Core i-series CPU, offering some modest speed improvements on last year's ultrabook chips. It's the same processor you can find on many other mainstream ultrabooks, including the more affordable Satellite U845 (not wide-screen) , Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A , and 13-inch Samsung Series 9.

In CNET's benchmark tests, the Toshiba Satellite U845W-S410 performed similarly to these other laptops. Integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics offer enough oomph for some basic gaming, but nothing approaching high-end. Street Fighter IV, an older game, ran at 22.9 frames per second at 1,366x768 resolution, about standard for this year's Ivy Bridge ultrabooks that lack any extra Nvidia or AMD graphics.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Annual energy consumption cost

Sarah Tew/CNET

The integrated battery hung in through 5 hours and 55 minutes of continuous video playback in our battery drain test, using our looping test video file. Your results with video streaming and other uses will vary. Six hours, or a hair under, is above average for a 13-inch ultrabook, but other laptops like the 13-inch Samsung Series 9 and 13-inch MacBook Air tested better. It should be good enough to last through a couple of movies during a plane flight.

Toshiba includes a standard one-year warranty with the Satellite U845W, but extended warranty plans are available on Toshiba's Web site ($139 for three years of service, or $224 for three years plus accidental damage protection). Software and drivers are easy to locate provided you know your laptop's specific model number, and a toll-free customer service number, 800-457-7777, took seconds to track down.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Toshiba Satellite U845W is an odd-duck hybrid laptop, a wide-screen movie-friendly ultrabook that lacks a DVD or Blu-ray drive. Its extra-wide screen could be useful for some, but no one really needs a screen this wide. Any gains in letterboxed movie sizes are offset by the smaller screen height and text size. You're paying about $130 more than a similarly equipped Toshiba laptop would cost, to get the special screen and improved Harman Kardon speakers. You're not paying a fortune for the U845W's experimental offerings, however, which makes this a concept laptop you need not be afraid to check out. For some, the speakers alone might be worth it.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Toshiba Satellite U845W-S410

Part Number: PSU5RU-00Q003 Released: Jul 23, 2012

MSRP: $999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 23, 2012
  • Resolution 1792 x 768 ( HD+ )
  • Installed Size 8 GB
  • Color midnight silver aluminum with soft touch trim
  • Weight 4 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • CPU Intel Core i5 (3rd Gen) 3317U / 1.7 GHz
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