The 14-inch Toshiba Satellite U840W is not just your average Ultrabook. Instead, it’s as if Toshiba took a regular ultraportable laptop and stretched it widthwise. If you’ve seen Philips’ 50PFL7956H 21:9 TV, you’ll know exactly what to expect, as the U840W is actually the world’s first 21:9 widescreen laptop.
What’s wrong with the good old ‘regular’ 16:9 variety, you may ask? Well, though most TV content is formatted in this aspect ratio, the majority of movies are not. Cinemas offer an ‘ultra-wide’ (usually 2.35 or 2.40:1) screen, and with the U840W, so does your laptop. With a resolution of 1,792 x 768, it’s also ideal to work with two documents side by side.
Mind you, it’s not just the Satellite U840W’s screen that potentially impresses, as it’s also beautifully built, offers good connectivity and performance, plus excellent battery life – and at under £900, it doesn’t break the bank. So is it worth your hard-earned cash?
Toshiba Satellite U840W Design and Build
There’s no denying that the Satellite U840W is Toshiba’s prettiest Ultrabook yet by quite a stretch. Half the lid is brushed mocha aluminium, while the other half sports a black, textured, rubberised finish. The same combination applies to the keyboard surround, while the U840W’s entire base is finished in that black rubber. On many laptops a two-tone design doesn’t work, but for some reason here it simply does.
All this makes the U840W, quite frankly, the best-feeling Ultrabook we’ve yet come across. It’s simply lovely to hold, and all that soft-touch plastic provides a secure grip, too. Every inch of this Satellite feels premium, smooth and pleasant to the finger, and most of it doesn’t scratch or pick up fingerprints easily. Only the glossy black screen surround breaks this trend.
Build quality mostly matches up. Though it’s not quite on a level with the likes of the MacBook Air or Samsung Series 9 due especially to some flex in the keyboard area, overall this is one well-designed ultraportable. Reasonably durable, ergonomic and pretty, with the Satellite U840W you’re getting the best of most worlds.
Toshiba Satellite U840W Connectivity
Connectivity is pretty good too on the Toshiba Satellite U840W, though you don’t get any extras. On the left you’ll find a flip-out Gigabit Ethernet port and two speedy USB 3.0 ports. The front houses an SDXC card slot, while the right is home to headphone and microphone jacks, a third USB 3.0 connection and HDMI for video output.
Toshiba Satellite U840W Usability
Unfortunately, keyboards have always been a weak point of Toshiba Ultrabooks, even as recently as the Toshiba Portege Z930. The good news is that the U840W improves noticeably on its predecessors.
While the aforementioned flex can be annoying and feedback is still far from as positive as we would like, the well-laid-out keyboard on this widescreen Satellite is very usable thanks to better travel and slightly more defined action. We can only hope that Toshiba continues to improve here till it can rejoin the ranks of HP, Samsung and portable keyboard king Lenovo.
We have no complaints of the huge multi-touch trackpad, which is smooth, responsive and sports a subtle but nice click.