Review: Toshiba U920t Ultrabook Convertible

Ever since Windows 8 was released, I have wanted to try it on a touch screen device built to exploit all of Windows 8 great features. I especially wanted to try it on a tablet, and my opportunity came at last when, through a Microsoft Canada MVP program, I was granted the loan (for two weeks) of a Toshiba U920t Ultrabook Convertible (U920T-028). I was especially excited about this model because it converts from an ultrabook with full keyboard to a tablet device via a sliding mechanism, which is pretty slick.

The Out of Box Experience

I was happy to be the first person to get the loan of the U920t, so I could have the singular experience of opening the box and unveiling the contents, something my other half fails to comprehend. The U920t comes in a regular sized laptop-suitable Toshiba branded box. Opening the box, the AC power adapter is stored on an upper tray that needs to be removed to get at the tablet below. The Toshiba is ensconced in a thin, plain white foam sleeve which in turn is protected on eiter side by sturdy foam inserts. Aside form this, there is a separate plastic pouch with some warranty info, a $10 music coupon and a safety brochure. Sadly, there is no ‘quick-start’ guide which would be helpful since I spent some considerable time searching for the power button. I assume if I had trouble locating it, others definitely would (for the record, it is on the rear left side of the device when in the laptop mode).

Some specs

This version of the U920t is the TOTL model and the MSRP at Toshiba.ca is $1,349.00. At Amazon.ca, the U920t-028 is $1,435.00.

The 12.5-inch display has a 16:9 format and 1366×768 pixel resolution. The corning gorilla glass protects it from smudges and scratches. The system also comes with 4 GB DDR3 memory. the U920t also comes with a fast Solid State Drive. The drive has 128 GB

You can connect an external hard drive to the device thanks to the USB 3.0 ports. When you are home or in the office and need a larger screen, you can make use of the HDMI port or Intel Wireless Display. Videoconferencing can be done via the integrated webcam.

Power On!

Once the power button was found the fun could begin. As I mentioned above, this was a brand new device, so Windows 8 has a helpful setup process to get you up and running after a few minutes of personalization settings. Such things as wireless access, colour schemes and log in credentials take place before a restart into the Windows login screen so you can start to enjoy this device.

The User Experience

This was not only the first tablet PC I ever used (I have an Android-based eReader), but my first experience with Windows 8 on a touch screen. As I’ve always stated to anyone that cares to ask: Windows 8 was designed for a touch screen device. If you don’t have a touch screen, stay with Windows 7 if you are happy with it.

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Windows 8 on the Toshiba ran very smoothly, and the wireless Internet experience was much faster than on my laptop, I thought. I made a point of trying to use the tablet instead of my laptop whenever possible, just to see if I would like the experience over the long run. At the end of two weeks I had some mixed feelings about using a tablet PC. On the one hand, it was very handy to have it nearby since it starts up (from standby) instantly. Once you login, you are good to go. My laptop would need a few minutes to get to the ready state before I could do something as simple as check the local weather or news. I really liked that about having a tablet. What I found I really didn’t like as much was not only the onscreen keyboard, but the actual keyboard when in laptop mode. It felt a little cramped, and because of this, my email replies tended to be short, or I would wait until I was at my laptop to reply. Also, the touchpad on the laptop-mode keyboard had no scroll function, so I had to use the up and down arrows the scroll through a web page or document. A little annoying, to say the least.

Pros

  • Performance: this is a high-powered device, and everything ran silky-smooth on it.
  • Backlit keyboard: very nice to have, especially in low-lighting conditions.
  • Design: the U920t felt very solid, although a bit heavy to hold in one hand.

Cons

  • Price: for this price point, I would rather spend my money on a full-sized laptop or a decent desktop.
  • Weight: as I mentioned above, the U920t was a bit heavy to hold with just one hand while reading an online newspaper, for instance.
  • Power button: took me forever to find out how to turn this baby on! A quick-start guide would have been helpful.

In conclusion, I can say this is a quality product from Toshiba. Having travelled a fair bit recently with a standard laptop (a Lenovo T510), I would have really appreciated replacing it with this hybrid notebook/tablet. Windows 8 ran fast & easy on it due to in large part to the SSD. Web browsing was also fast, making the Toshiba U920t Ultrabook an enjoyable experience overall.