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 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 UX31A-BHI5T. 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 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 (D11213CX), 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 13. 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), 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 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.
Connectivity options on the Satellite U925T-S2120 are on par with other hybrid ultrabooks. The system’s right side features a headphone jack alongside a memory card reader. Its two USB 3.0 ports are divided between its left side and rear, complete with a full-size HDMI port. For users looking to skip wires altogether, the Satellite U925T-S2120 conveniently features Intel’s Wireless Display technology, so audio and video can be wirelessly beamed to an HDTV kitted out with an aftermarket adapter, like the Netgear Push2TV.
The Satellite U925T-S2120′s 128GB SSD is small, although users can get rid of the preloaded software to free up space. Most of it is either trialware (30 days of Microsoft Office 365, Norton Internet Security, and Norton Online Backup) or proprietary software (Toshiba App Place, Book Place, Maintenance Utility, and so on). Bloatware is kept to a minimum, and includes the usual suspects like WildTangent Games. Toshiba covers the Satellite U925T-S2120 and its battery with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
The Satellite U925T-S2120′s 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor is a slight bump up from the Intel Core i5-3317U that made its way into many of the ultrabooks that we saw last fall and winter. As expected, its newer processor added a jolt of adrenaline to the Satellite U925T-S2120′s performance. This was readily apparent in its class-leading PCMark 7 score of 4,658 points, which edged past the VAIO Duo 11 (D11213CX) (4,468 points) and the Dell XPS 12 (4,638 points) while easily blowing past the ThinkPad Twist (3347-4HU) (2,749 points). Likewise, its Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.48 points outshone its peers, including the Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T (2.40 points) and Sony VAIO T15 Touch (SVT15112CXS) (2.28 points).
The Satellite U925T-S2120 also has the chops for moderate media creation tasks. It ran through our Handbrake video-encoding test in a brisk 1 minute 26 seconds, putting it on par with the Dell XPS 12 (1:26) and just shy of the Sony T15 Touch and Sony Duo 11 (1:25 each). Its performance on our Photoshop CS6 benchmark test (6 minutes 3 seconds) was outshined by both the Asus Touch UX31A-BHI5T (5:31) and Sony T15 Touch (SVT15112CXS) (5:31), but bested the Dell XPS 12 (6:31) and Lenovo Yoga 13 (6:35). It also exhibited a capacity for 3D rendering, and its score of 1,136 points on our 3DMark11 test (Entry mode) bested the rest of the pack, including the Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T (1,160 points) and the Dell XPS 12 (1,106 points).
Like its peers, the Satellite U925T-S2120′s integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU doesn’t make it the ideal candidate for high-end gaming, so it’s no surprise that it failed to crack the 30 frames per second playability barrier in either our Aliens Vs. Predator or Heaven benchmarks tests.
The Satellite U925T-S2120′s non-removable 45Whr battery lasted for a solid 5 hours 25 minutes on our battery rundown test, which fell short of the Asus UX31A-BHI5T (6:38) but outperformed other comparable systems, including the Dell XPS 12 (5:09),the Lenovo Twist (3347-4HU) (4:10) and, to an even greater extent, the Sony Duo 11 (3:09).
With its agile processor, svelte chassis, and attractive screen, the Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2120 has all the ingredients for a good ultrabook or tablet. By trying to be both, though, it ultimately misses the mark. Instead, the end products are a so-so ultrabook and a bulky tablet that converge through an awkwardly implemented sliding hinge mechanism. If you’re absolutely set on getting a hybrid ultrabook, stick with the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 for its intuitive convertible design. Otherwise, the Asus Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T remains the ultrabook to beat.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2120
Compare the Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2120 with several other laptops side by side.
More laptop reviews:
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3337U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Processor Speed||1.8 GHz|
|Screen Size||12.5 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||128 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc