Review: Toshiba Satellite P840
Toshiba’s first touchscreen Windows 8 machine that we’ve managed to get our hands on, the P840 isn’t thin or light like an Ultrabook, and it isn’t small and sexy like the hybrid tablets we’re beginning to see more of.
Instead, Toshiba has taken one of its mid-to-high end machines and given it the gift of touch, bringing a multimedia machine into 2013 with the usefulness of multipoint touch that Windows 8 feeds on.
Advertised as a computer suitable for multimedia users, the P840 features the tech for people who used their computer to watch movies, play games, and – thanks to Windows – need to touch their workflow.
Inside the P840, you’ll find enough hardware for Toshiba to work in that “multimedia hub” claim from the Toshiba website, including a third-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB of hard drive space, and two video cards at your disposal: Intel’s HD4000 graphics for the lighter activities, with Nvidia’s GeForce GT630M with 2GB RAM taking over the heavier duties.
Unlike the Ultrabooks we’re so used to seeing, the Toshiba Satellite P840 is more a multimedia friendly machine, with a DVDRW drive loaded in, so you can watch movies and even burn some 4.5GB discs.
Ports are reasonably plentiful too, with Toshiba including three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, HDMI, VGA, and a headphone and microphone jacks sitting alongside each other.
Connectivity is fairly standard, with 802.11 b/g/n supported for WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and even support for DLNA.
The screen measures 14 inches diagonally and sports an HD capable resolution of 1366×768, while still being touch friendly.
Just above the frame, you’ll find a high-definition web cam and microphone, for those times when you desperately need to Skype someone.
Windows 8 is, of course here, designed to work with that touchscreen, and running in 64-bit, to take advantage of the 8GB RAM in this machine.
Toshiba also includes its own software to help your computer, such as the PC Health Monitor for monitoring component temperatures and health, and the 3D Hard Drive Sensor which will stop the drive and park the heads if they sense the machine moving, a step that can prolong the life of hard drives.
The first of Toshiba’s Windows 8 machines that we’ve seen, the P840 attempts to bring some decent multimedia power to a not-quite-15 inch machine that can still be carried with you.
Pick it up and you’ll find that this obviously isn’t an Ultrabook, with a weight that makes it nearly impossible to pick up one hand. Toshiba says the P840 weighs just over two kilograms, and we’re inclined to believe it, given how heavy it is to carry.
The casing is a little better than the typical plastic bodies we’re used to seeing on laptops, with an aluminium frame carrying a texture that looks like little Tetris blocks up close, but just comes off feeling like tiny little ridges.
Your fingers should be able to grip onto this easily, but the weight doesn’t help, so just make sure to hold the laptop with both hands if you’re in transit.
Open it up and you’ll see a colour scheme that’s offers an almost dotted silver with black keys, and a wide grey trackpad mouse.
Typing on the keyboard is comfortable enough, and while there’s a bit of flex in the entire frame as you press, it’s easy to get a lot of typing done here. Working in the dark is also possible, with backlighting included on this laptop.
We will say that some keystrokes appeared to go missing, but the number was small, with merely one out of every five hundred keystrokes disappearing, hardly enough to be concerned about. To Toshiba’s credit, the trackpad here is actually one of the better ones we’ve come across for Windows, with multitouch gestures working quite well.
Interaction on the touchscreen also works efficiently, though sometimes the applications may need to catch up to what you’re doing, with a little bit of lag coming from the computer as you zoom in with fingers or run things by selecting them directly on the touchscreen.
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