The Bottom Line
Jul 25 2012 - Toshiba's Satellite U845 is an attempt to make a slightly larger but still affordable ultrabook under Intel's new second generation guidelines. For the most part, the slightly large 14-inch screen doesn't really add that much more to the system other than being slightly larger and heavier than the 13-inch ultrabook. The one benefit is that it does feature more ports such as Ethernet. Performance is decent but the hard drive and cache combo did not perform quite as well as some other hard drive based ultrabooks. What the U845 did really well though was battery life by outliving those same hard drive ultrabooks. So the question really comes down to is storage capacity and battery life more important than size and speed? If so, then the Satellite U845 is a decent tradeoff.
- Good Battery Life
- Larger Storage Capcity
- Full Ethernet Port
- Display Doesn't Offer Much More Than Can Be Found in 13-inch Models
- Storage Performance Slower Than Other Hard Drive Based Ultrabooks
- Integrated Trackpad Buttons
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive with 16GB Solid State System Cache
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.4" x 9.1" x .8" @ 4.1 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Norton Internet Security
Review - Toshiba Satellite U845-S404
Jul 25 2012 - The Satellite U845 is Toshiba's first laptop to take advantage of the new second generation ultrabook standards that allow for larger size screens. While it may have a larger screen, the system sticks to fairly traditional ultrabook designs with a thinner profile that doesn't taper much from its .8 inch thick hinge to the front. The thicker profile does mean that it can fit a full size Ethernet port in addition to HDMI and three USB ports which does give it a slight edge on some of the 13-inch ultrabooks on the market.
Rather than using a dedicated solid state drive for the Satellite U845 ultrabook, Toshiba has elected to use a high capacity 500GB hard drive. This provides it with anywhere from two to three times more space than those that use just solid state drives. To offer the accelerated performance required of the ultrabook specifications, the drive is matched up with a 16GB solid state cache. Unfortunately, the speeds still seemed to suffer with this setup as cold boot times were nearly half a minute long and waking from sleep was at five seconds. That is a good deal longer than the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 which featured a similar setup. If you do need additional storage space, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage. There is no optical drive so an external drive would be need to load any applications from physical media.
With the 14-inch display, the Toshiba Satellite U845 is one of the first of the second generation of ultrabooks that are allowed to use displays larger than 13-inches. This does of course add a bit extra bulk to the system. While the screen is larger, it sticks with the standard 1366x768 display resolution common to many laptops and especially with 13-inch ultrabooks. It would have been nice to see a higher resolution display but price was a major concern here. The display itself is decent but the viewing angles are pretty narrow on the vertical axis It does use a glossy coating but it does a better job at reflections and glare than some that use glass coatings. The graphics like most ultrabooks is based on the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is a step up from past generations that allow for more 3D performance but it is only possible to do casual gaming at the most basic resolutions and detail levels. What it does offer though is support for Quick Sync acceleration of media encoding.
The keyboard for the Satellite U845 uses the standard isolated key design that is almost ubiquitous on all laptops. Since this is an ultrabook, the keys travel a very short depth compared to a traditional laptop design. This can take a bit of time to get used to but for the most part it is accurate. It would have been nice to see the keyboard use the full width of the deck to handle a larger key size which would be helpful to those with large hands such as myself. The trackpad is recessed slightly from the palmrest which helps reduce the number of accidental brushes that can send the cursor jumping around the screen. It seemed accurate but uses integrated right and left buttons which can be difficult to use for tasks such as highlighting text in a document.
Like many of the new ultrabooks, the Satellite U845 uses an internal battery pack that features a 54WHr capacity rating. In digital video playback testing, it lasted an impressive five and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This does fall a bit short of what a few of the other ultrabooks can achieve with slightly larger batteries or the six hours of the Apple MacBook Air 13 but is still very good considering that it is using a traditional hard drive rather than just a solid state drive. The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 and the original Acer Aspire S3 with their hard drives only achieved three and a half hours.
The competition right now for the Satellite U845 is primarily with smaller 13-inch ultrabooks and a few older 14 and 15-inch systems that have been retooled to ultrabooks. The price for the Satellite U845-S404 is $850. This puts the competition mainly with the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 and the Acer Aspire S3. The Lenovo offers a more affordable price tag with a slightly smaller and light profile but with far less battery life. Acer's option is either more expensive with SSD or less expensive with its hard drive option.