After years of making cheap, plastic computers, Toshiba's Satellite Radius 12 stands out. It's got practically everything you'd want in a thin and light Windows 10 laptop, all encased in a shiny metal frame. It includes powerful processors, gobs of memory, a lightning-fast solid state drive, a beautiful touchscreen display and, yes, some fancy hinges that let it bend over backwards into a tablet configuration.
Best of all, it comes with an ultra high-definition 4K-resolution (3,840x2,160-pixel) screen that not only displays 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut, but has also been factory calibrated and certified by Technicolor to display them accurately. Translation: the colors really pop.
It's available in the US for just $1,299, starting October 18. If you're not sold on that screen, there's also a $999 version that has a lower-resolution 1080p display, but is otherwise identical. UK and Australian prices and release dates were not announced, but the US prices convert to roughly £850 and £655, or AU$1,765 and AU$1,370.
At 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) light and 0.6 inches (15.2mm) thin, the Radius 12 is supremely portable as well. It's just as thin and nearly as light as. The big differences are that Dell's machine doesn't turn into a tablet -- and Dell doesn't have a special face-recognizing camera built into the bezel to let you log in to your PC without a pin or password. Spoiler alert: the Toshiba does.
Basically, Toshiba built a laptop that follows all the hot new trends, right down to including one of those fancy new USB Type-C ports that lets you plug a cable in upside-down without a problem.
But after spending a few days with the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12, I'm not as impressed as I was at first blush.
For one thing, Toshiba clearly cut some corners when building this laptop.
Sure, it's made of metal, but it's an awkward-looking blend of three separate metal pieces instead of a unibody frame like theor competing thin machines. Toshiba's brushed metal finish traps the grease from my fingers, making the surface feel slimy after a while. The touchpad surface isn't perfectly smooth and it's not positioned in the center of the keyboard deck. The keyboard feels a bit mushy, too, and the keys aren't all the same width. Also, the screen is so reflective you could practically use it as a mirror.
I found a big bulge, too, in the cheap plastic bezel beneath the screen glass on my review unit -- the exact place you'd grip it if you wanted to hold up a big, vertical tablet. That's probably a quality control issue and might not appear if you buy one of these yourself, but it's not particularly reassuring to see on a $1,300 machine. We're reaching out to Toshiba to see if this is a known issue.
Glare aside, I've got to admit the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12's display produces a very pretty picture (as long as it's not sitting directly in sunlight). I could lose hours watching 4K test footage on this laptop, not to mention diving through my own dSLR photography and some of the 4K video my wife and I are shooting with our new smartphones.
But as I quickly discovered, those are pretty much the only reasons to have a 4K screen on a laptop right now. Though a number of companies stream 4K movies and TV shows these days, the big ones like Netflix and Amazon won't stream them to a Windows PC.
And though YouTube 4K offers a variety of gorgeous test footage from around the world, I found that many of the videos would stutter on Toshiba's machine, stopping and starting again and again like bad traffic on the highway.
None of these issues necessarily mean that the Satellite Radius 12 is a bad computer. It seems fast, light and -- assuming you've got a use for that 4K display -- it's not prohibitively expensive at $1,299. I'm also not done testing it yet. We still need to know whether the Radius 12 has decent battery life, as just one example, before we can render a verdict.
Check back soon for our full CNET review. We'll let you know whether the Radius 12 is worth your time and money.