By placing such a heavy emphasis on touch functionality, Windows 8 ushered a variety of new form factors into the mainstream. This explains why slate tablets and hybrid ultrabooks continue to pop up several months into its release. The Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2120 ($1,149.99 list) is an example of the latter, serving up a system with a 12.5-inch IPS screen whose sliding hinge allows it to function as both an ultrabook and tablet. But despite its agile processor and responsive touch screen, the awkward implementation of its hinge ultimately mars the overall product. By trying to be both, the Satellite U925T-S2120 winds up missing the mark on each front, making for an unwieldy tablet and an ultrabook with a less-than-ideal Dell Inspiron 15R Keyboard and touchpad.
Design and Features
Measuring 0.78 by 12.9 by 8.4 inches (HWD) and weighing 3.35 pounds, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s midnight brown chassis makes for an attractively compact system with a svelte frame whose portability rivals that of our current Editors’ Choice for ultrabooks, the Asus Zenbook Prime Touch . Rather than closing like a traditional clamshell ultrabook, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s display is built onto a sliding hinge reminiscent of the slider keyboards seen in some cellphones. To enter ultrabook mode, one slides the display up past the laptop keyboard , at which point it can be raised up to all the way to a ninety degree angle. Conversely, entering tablet mode requires pushing the display down until it lies completely flat before sliding it over the keyboard. The Satellite U925T-S2120′s sliding hinge is very similar to the spring-loading sliding hinge mechanism seen on the Sony VAIO Duo 11 , though the latter’s design doesn’t allow for an adjustable screen angle in laptop mode.
Sliding the system open and close is relatively smooth, but the hinge poses several problems. Unlike a traditional clamshell chassis, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s screen remains exposed and unprotected when the system is closed. Though covered with scratch-proof Gorilla Glass, the display remains vulnerable, especially when it’s in a bag. For this reason, we prefer the “multi-mode” folding hinge on the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga ( Lenovo Ideapad Keyboard ). Moreover, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s hinges are fully visible in the rear of the system when it’s in ultrabook mode. In addition to undermining the system’s otherwise sleek aesthetic, it also makes the Satellite U925T-S2120 look more like a design prototype than a finished product.
Since it’s a hybrid ultrabook, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s design naturally centers on its display. Like the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (3347-4HU)$747.12 at Lenovo, it sports a 12.5-inch screen. With a maximum resolution of 1,366–by-768, the display is good enough to watch videos in 720p and, thanks to its IPS panel, it boasts bright colors and wide viewing angles. Its multitouch capabilities are equally easy on the fingers, giving users a smooth and responsive canvas for pinching and swiping through Windows 8 in both modes.
Despite its slim profile, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s 12.5-inch widescreen display makes for a somewhat unwieldy tablet size, especially when held in portrait mode. Still, the nice grip provided by its soft-touch underside helps balance things out.
The Satellite U925T-S2120 isn’t without flaws in ultrabook mode. Because Toshiba had to devote nearly 1.5 inches of the base to accommodate the sliding hinge apparatus, there’s even less real estate available for the keyboard and touchpad on what’s already a cramped surface. Ditto for the narrow palmrest, which forces your hands to dangle over the edge of the system. The Toshiba Keyboard is also uncomfortably small and yields noticeably shallow keystrokes. Likewise, the tiny touchpad made two-finger scrolling and basic Windows 8 gesture controls trickier than would be with a larger touchpad.
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