Toshiba adds high-price looks to new midprice laptops

The new Satellite E55 and E45t are inspired by the pricey Kirabook, but start at $579.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Dan Ackerman
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If you liked the brushed-metal look and feel of Toshiba's ambitious Kirabook laptop, but weren't as hot on the $1,699 and up price, the new Satellite E55 and E45t may be for you.

These just-introduced new laptops from Toshiba's mainstream line take some of the premium styling of the very expensive Kirabook, launched in May 2013, and translate it into a much more affordable package.

In fact, looking at these systems from the top of the lid, they look almost exactly like Toshiba's highest-end laptop. Only once you get up close can you that they're thicker, with plastic lower bodies, but still very nice-looking as far a budget/midprice laptops go. The 14- and 15-inch models are a little different, as outlined here.

The Toshiba Satellite E55 Dan Ackerman/CNET

Toshiba Satellite E55 series
This 15-inch ultrabook-like laptop comes in both AMD and Intel configurations. It starts at $579, which is great for a midsize laptop that's so well-built (at least from the demo unit we got to play around with recently), but keep in mind that's for a version with an AMD CPU and no touch screen (model name: E55D). Selling a thin, sharp-looking, 15-inch Windows 8 laptop without touch feels a little incongruous in the second half of 2013, even for under $600.

A touch-screen AMD version (E55Dt) will be $679, while the flagship Intel version (E55t), featuring a touch screen and one of Intel's fourth-generation Core i-series processors, will be $899.

The Toshiba Satellite E45t. Dan Ackerman/CNET

Toshiba Satellite E45t
This single 14-inch configuration is going to be a Best Buy retail exclusive, but also available from Toshiba's Web site. For $817 (which Best Buy will likely reduce to $799 in-store), you get an Intel fourth-generation Core i-series processor and touch screen, and Toshiba says we should consider this system a replacement for the very popular Satellite U845t, which had a similar price and configuration.

While they look nice for sub-$1,000 laptops, all four laptops mentioned here have 1,366x768-pixel native screen resolutions, which starts to feel a little old in the more expensive configurations.

The Satellite E45t will be available at Best Buy starting August 4, and the E55 series will be available starting in September from a variety of retailers.