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Toshiba Satellite U840 review

Toshiba's U840-10V is a lower priced Ultrabook

Benchmarks
Cinebench 10: 9305
3D Mark 06: 5194
Battery Eater 05: 133 minutes

The fact that Intel gives a careful specification for Ultrabooks is something of a double-edged sword. Limiting what components you find in laptops has the effect of making it difficult, and even pointless, to try to differentiate too much between them. But it also means you can reliably say you'll get decent performance, even at the lower end of the price scale.

That's what we see with the Toshiba Satellite U840-10V, and it's no surprise. The Cinebench score of just under 10,000 puts it in line with other mid-range Ultrabooks, and just behind the high-end ones, such as the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A.

You might feel the difference in particularly intensive tasks, but for general computing, the Satellite U840's CPU feels more than capable.

Toshiba Satellite U840 10V review

It's the same situation with graphics. The Ivy Bridge chip from Intel offers its HD 4000 GPU, meaning that mid-range gaming is well within grasp. Portal 2, for example, plays perfectly well, but Crysis 3 is likely to be out of the question. That's expected, though.

While the Core i5 CPU and 6GB of RAM combine to make applications feel snappy, it does feel like there's a bit of a bottleneck: the hard drive. When you need to access files and information from the hard drive, it does feel like seeing a graceful dancer trip over their own feet.

The Asus Zenbook Prime feels much faster across the board in operation, thanks to it having an SSD instead of a hard drive. The Satellite U840 might have a small SSD, but it only helps for Windows system operations.

As soon as you need to retrieve files you've stored, especially lots of them at once, like you would opening something like iTunes, you're back to the slow, 5,400rpm hard drive.

Toshiba Satellite U840 10V review

Toshiba's own Satellite Z930 actually features all-SSD storage, and it's not too much more money - though still enough to make you pause. There's also the difference in capacity, of course - this offers 500GB, while the Z930 only offers 128GB.

It's a balance, but there's no getting away from the fact that the Toshiba Satellite U840-10V's HDD does hold it back from feeling as slick as Ultrabooks should all the time.

However, it does manage to be as fast as you'd expect when turning on or coming back from standby - the longest we had to wait was around two seconds. We've got no complaints from that perspective.

The screen feels like another area where sacrifices have had to be made for the price. The resolution of 1366 x 768 isn't surprising, but at this size, it does leave text and images looking visibly blocky.

Toshiba Satellite U840 10V review

It also suffers from below-average viewing angles, especially when it comes to height - you can very quickly find it difficult to see thin text. Even at a good viewing angle, it's not particularly vibrant, though colours do look reasonably natural. It's decent when it comes to brightness, but black levels are fairly weak.

Battery life is a particular disappointment, clocking in at a lowly 133 minutes in our benchmark. Again, we look to Toshiba's own Satellite Z930 as an example of what we're hoping for, since that clocked 210 minutes. The Asus Zenbook UX32A scored 208 minutes. That's what we consider normal for an Ultrabook. The Toshiba Satellite U840-10V only manages two thirds of that.

The keyboard is backlit, which is always nice to see, but that's the nicest thing we have to say about it, really. We're not crazy about the layout, with the likes of Page Up/Down, Home and End on the far right, where you'd expect Backspace, Enter and Shift to be. But you could get used to that.

The main problem is that it offers a pathetic lack of feedback. There's very little travel in the keys, their movement is soft and they're very quiet, which all combine to mean it's hard to tell if you've actually pressed one.

Toshiba Satellite U840 10V review

The spacing and size of them is fine, yet you're still not sure if you're typing correctly.

If this was a super-thin laptop, we might understand there not being space for good key travel, but it's not exactly the most svelte Ultrabook around, or the lightest.

We found the trackpad to be fairly decent, though not quite a home run, still. Multi-touch gestures work well on it, including pinching and two-finger scrolling, and sensitivity is good.

Clicking is shallow (echoing the keyboard), but tap-to-click is turned on by default, and doesn't have the over-sensitivity problems we've had on other trackpads, so was our preferred way of getting around Windows.

Toshiba Satellite U840 10V review

Our only other little niggle was the lights on the front of the chassis, which are needlessly bright and distracting.

We'll end on a high, though, by noting that while the speakers aren't of knock-out quality, the fact that they're stereo and on each side of the laptop does make them more immersive.

Tech Specs

Product TypeUltrabook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 4000
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time5.25 Hour
HDMIYes
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilySatellite U840W
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Keyboard BacklightYes
Processor Modeli5-3317U
ColourPrecious Silver
Operating SystemWindows 8
Brand NameToshiba
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size36.6 cm (14.4")
Number of Cells4-cell
Screen Resolution1792 x 768
Standard Memory6 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.68 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR 5.0, WEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Total Memory Slots1
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyTruBrite
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports3
Memory StandardDDR3-1600/PC3-12800
Height20.3 mm
Width368.7 mm
Depth200 mm
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesU840W
ManufacturerToshiba
Product ModelU840W-10J
Product NameSatellite U840W-10J
Pointing Device TypeClickPad
Product LineSatellite
Aspect Ratio21:9
Manufacturer Part NumberPSU5XE-00800UEN
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.toshiba.co.uk
Marketing Information

Designed for great everyday performance, Satellite range products are affordable but serve up the power, features and portability that even the most demanding home users require. You can buy Satellite products through an extensive network of high street and online retailers.

Maximum Memory10 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • Satellite U840W-10J
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year