The novelty is not as absurd in practice as you’d think. The 21:9 aspect ratio amounts to Cinemascope-wide screen, enough to view a motion picture with no letterboxing. Apart from movie-watching, the screen is also best for side-by-side Web browsing or document editing.
I’m not going to deny that the U845W is a bit of a concept automobile among laptops. However, its price is not absurd: the U845W-S410 entry-level model I reviewed costs $999, which places it squarely in the normal spectrum of ultrabook prices, even though with the 500GB non-SSD hard drive our configuration includes, you can find similar ultrabooks lacking tricked-out screens for as low as $700.
You’re buying a laptop with an extra-wide screen, better-than-average speakers, and the same internal specs you’d find in any current ultrabook. You do not get dedicated graphics for gaming, nor do you get an optical drive for DVD or Blu-ray content — perhaps the biggest omission in a laptop geared toward HD motion picture watching. If you want to watch movies, get ready to stream or download them.
The other thing I cannot shake after using the U845W here in my office: it feels like a 15-inch laptop with its barrel sawed off. The width of the U845W matches the average 15-incher, but the depth of the footprint is shallower than a 13-inch laptop. Shallow airline trays will love the U845W, but small backpacks, bags, and maybe even your lap will not like the surfboard shape quite as much.
The Satellite U845W earns props for being a clever, even cleverly useful laptop depending on who you are, at a price that is not egregious. It’s just not–big surprise–for everyone, simply because that big, wide screen is not necessary. And, in the end, that screen will cost you money: think about that the Satellite U845-S406, a similar laptop in terms of CPU, RAM and hard drive without the wide screen and improved speakers, costs $879.
Starting price / Price as reviewed $999 Processor 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U Memory 6GB, 1,600MHz DDR3 Hard drive 500GB, 5,400rpm + 32GB SSD hybrid Chipset Intel HM77 Graphics Intel HD 4000 Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Dimensions (WD) 14.5×7.9 inches Height 0.83 inch Screen size (diagonal) 14.4 inches System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.7 pounds / 4.3 pounds Category ultrabook
The two-tone exterior of the U845W, rubberized in the front and on the underside for a better grip, lends this Satellite a different feel than any other Toshiba laptop I’ve seen lately: it feels more like a piece of home media gear, or a high-end Blu-ray player. The bronzed aluminum and dark textured palmrest interior frame the wide, raised-key backlit keyboard, while glossy plastic surrounds the ultrawide 21:9 display.
With its lid open, the Satellite U845W feels weirdly elongated. It also looks like the lid somehow will not close over the bottom half. It does, and when closed up, the laptop feels as long as a mini-surfboard. Your backpack will need to be deeper than average to slot this in comfortably: as you can see from our comparison with the Satellite U845, it’s wider and shorter when opened up, which makes it an best candidate for a cramped coach airline tray.
What does a 14.4-inch, 21:9 ultrawide display really mean? Numbers can be deceiving when it comes to screen sizes, especially when aspect ratios are messed with. In the case of the U845W, its 1,792×768-pixel maximum resolution is 426 pixels wider than the average 1,366×768 laptop screen resolution, and exactly the same pixel height. That means that you will be able to cram two browser windows side by side and actually make it work with some fiddling, or work on two documents at once — or, watch a video and take notes, if you are capable of that. The entire screen’s vertical and horizontal resolution falls short of 1,920×1,080 pixels, but there is a lot more virtual desktop space than on your average laptop.
So, why does everything feel so cramped in the Toshiba Satellite U845W? Because that physical screen size is smaller, in terms of vertical measurements, than most laptops. The average 13.3-inch laptop has a screen 6.5 inches high; the U845W’s screen is about 5.6 inches high. A 14-inch laptop’s screen is 7 inches high. You’re getting the screen height of a far smaller display, perhaps an 11-incher, but spread far wider. The third-gen iPad’s screen is about the same height in landscape mode; imagine an iPad screen stretched extra-wide, and you have the U845W.
That means that document icons, text, and browser windows all feel a tiny shrunken down. It feels like looking at a 13-inch screen in 1,920×1,080: it’s usable, but a tiny hard to read. Coupled with the strange aspect ratio of the screen, it could be enough to throw off some users. CNET TV reviews editor Ty Pendlebury, who even reviewed a 21:9 TV recently, instantly recoiled when I showed him the U845W.
The extra screen width does make a difference for side-by-side document work, and of course for videos. Widescreen videos tend to be letterboxed; on the Satellite U845W, a 21:9 video fills the screen perfectly. But how many movies or videos come in 21:9? The answer: not so many. Most on-line streaming videos aren’t 21:9, and the result when streaming to the U845W’s extra-wide screen is mixed. Downloaded movies and content will either be letterboxed if they are even wider than 21:9, or more likely will be “pillarboxed” by black bars on the sides, like when you watch 4:3 movies on an HDTV.
The Satellite U845W doesn’t come with any optical drive, which means you cannot instantly play Blu-rays or DVDs. So, toss out those dreams of enjoying your back catalog of Cinemascope movies on the U845W, unless you want to invest in a USB drive. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s frustrating, but that is the way the U845W rolls. Downloads and streaming content are what you will have to settle for.
Games will be similarly pillared, since few if any games take advantage of the U845W’s extremely uncommon native resolution.
Toshiba includes a tool for snapping multiple windows side-by-side in four different orientations, accounting for widescreen and “square screen” viewing of media. The button appears above open windows and helps fit content to the screen.
- Game review: ‘Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the …
- Acer Aspire R7 hands-on review: notebook with new Ezel Hinge
- Review: Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0, a P7,999 quad-core Android phone
- Win a Carbon Audio Zooka iPad Speaker from Gadget Review (contest)
- AP psych tests for Md. high school under review
- Canon Pixma MX455 review
- Thermaltake GOrb II Portable Laptop Cooler Review
- EyeQ Worthy of Silver Medal, Boffin Notes in Recent Review of Speed Reading …
- Gadget Review: Samsung Galaxy S4
- FAS Women's Premier League Review – Round 9
Submited at Sunday, July 29th, 2012 at 4:00 am on Uncategorized by Gillan
Comment RSS 2.0 - leave a comment - trackback