Review: Toshiba U940 Ultrabook

toshiba u940 feature
Smartphones and tablets have taken the portability market hostage and plan on keeping it that way, however Laptops/Ultra books have an essence of performance and ease of use that can never be replaced. Having a complete Windows OS at your finger tips with decent performance/battery life is exactly the reason for the Toshiba U940, but also without a massive a price tag that we are use to with Ultra book laptops.

So we have the Toshiba U940-10M Ultrabook up for review and with a price tag of around €700/£600/$649(plus tax). Toshiba are aiming this at the mid–range spec side of things. Although there are other versions of the same laptop with slightly lower specs for even lower price, we are taking a look at the U940-10M which houses the i5–3317U CPU, Intel 4000HD graphics, 6GB of DDR3 RAM(1600Mhz), 750GB Hard Drive with 32GB SSD Cache, all with a 14-inch LED Display with 1366 x 768 resolution. While those are some of the important specs, you can check out the full specs below.

Processor type : 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3317U Processor for Ultrabook™ with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
clock speed : 1.70 / 2.60 Turbo GHz
3rd level cache : 3 MB
Operating System / Platform
Windows 8 64-bit (pre-installed)
Design Colour colour : Ice Blue Silver Finish, black tile keyboard on ice blue silver frame
Solid State Drive capacity : 32 (for system cache use only and not user accessible) GB
System memory standard : 6,144 (4,096 + 2,048) MB
maximum expandability : 16,384 MB
technology : DDR3 RAM (1,600 MHz)
Hard disk capacity : 750 GB
drive rotation : 5,400 rpm
Display size : 35.6cm (14.0”)
type : Toshiba TruBrite® HD TFT High Brightness display with 16 : 9 aspect ratio and LED backlighting
internal resolution : 1,366 x 768
Graphics adaptor type : Intel® HD Graphics 4000
memory : up to 1,664 MB shared memory with 4 GB system memory installed, (with pre-installed 64-bit operating system)
memory type : shared
Internal video modes The following internal video modes are supported: :
resolution : 1366 x 768
Interfaces 1 × RJ-45
1 × external microphone
1 × headphone (stereo)
1 × USB 2.0
2 × USB 3.0 (one supporting USB Sleep-and-Charge with Auto mode detection)
1 × HDMI-out supporting 1080p signal format
1 × integrated 1.0MP HD Web Camera (1,280 x 800) with built-in microphone
1 × Multi-Card Reader (supports SD™ Card up to 2 GB, miniSD™/microSD™ Card with adapter up to 2 GB, SDHC™ Card up to 32 GB, SDXC™ Card up to 2 TB, Memory Stick® up to 256 MB, Memory Stick Pro™ up to 2 GB)
Expansion 2 × memory slots
Wireless communication Compliancy : Wi-Fi™
Network Support : 802.11b/g/n
Manufacturer : Intel®
Wireless Technology : Wireless LAN
Version : Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230
Manufacturer : Intel®
Wireless Technology : Bluetooth® 4.0
Version : 4.0
Manufacturer : Intel®
Wireless Technology : Intel® Wireless Display
Wired communication topology : Fast Ethernet LAN
speed : 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX
Sound system supported audio format : 24-bit stereo
speakers : built-in stereo speakers, enhanced by SRS Premium Sound 3D™
manufacturer : Realtek (ALC259-VC2-CG)
Keyboard keys : 87
Windows keys : Yes
special features : Black tile keyboard on ice blue silver frame with illumination
Pointing device type : Clickpad with multi-touch control gestures supporting various scroll, zoom and launch functionalities at your fingertips.
Battery technology : lithium-ion, 4 cell
maximum life : up to 4h30min (Mobile Mark™ 2012)
AC adaptor input voltage : autosensing AC adapter (100/240 V) for worldwide usage
output voltage : 19 V
output current : 2.37 A
Physical dimensions W x D x H : 339.6 x 238.3 x 20.7 mm
weight : starting at 1.72 kg
Warranty 1 year European Carry-in incl. local Pick-up & Return in the UK & Ireland. Toshiba also offers a large range of services to upgrade your standard warranty, please have a look at our website www.toshiba-europe.com/services to find the right service for your product.
Bundled hardware AC adaptor
Bundled software Intel® AppUp Center
Intel® Rapid Start Technology Software
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology
Intel® Wireless Display
McAfee® AntiTheft
McAfee® Internet Security (includes complimentary 30 day subscription)
McAfee® Security Advisor for Toshiba
Microsoft® FreshPaint
Microsoft® Office trial
Microsoft® Solitair Collection
SRS Premium Sound 3D™
TOSHIBA Desktop Assist
TOSHIBA Eco Utility™
TOSHIBA Flash Cards Support Utility
TOSHIBA Function Key
TOSHIBA Media Player by sMedio TrueLink+
TOSHIBA PC Health Monitor
TOSHIBA Places
TOSHIBA Recovery Media Creator
TOSHIBA Resolution+ Plug-in for Windows Media Player
TOSHIBA Service Station
TOSHIBA System Settings
TOSHIBA Tempro
Security features HDD password on request
slot for Kensington Cable Lock
supervisor password
user password
Special features ENERGY STAR qualified computer
Enhanced Intel® SpeedStep® Technology
HD Audio support
Replaceable Battery, HDD and or memory modules
SM BIOS compliant
Certification The manufacturer declares that this product complies with the following directives and regulations for the CE-marking. Responsible for CE marking is Toshiba Europe GmbH, Hammfelddam 8, 41460 Neuss, Germany.

So now we have the specs out of the way, let’s take a look at the laptop itself and then move on to some testing.

U940 back

The back of the laptop has no action other than the battery slot and Toshiba Logo.

U940 led

The front has the Charge, Power and Wireless LED’s

U940 keyboardBacklight keyboard
The keyboard on the U940 is pretty nice, slippy but smooth texture, the keys are  decent size and work well. The functions keys are secondary to the media/control functions and you will have to use the FN button on combination to activate a function key which is something that may take some getting use too.

U940 track pad
Another object that may require getting use to is the track pad of which includes multi-touch function, however in incorporates the left and right click into the tracking, so essentially you may find yourself sliding the mouse a little when you truly mean to left/right click.


T
he let side we have the Kensinton lock, USB 2.o slot and fan grill.

U940 right side
The right side we have most of the connection like Headphones, Microphone, SD Slot, 2 x USB 3.0 slots, HDMI out, Gigabit Ethernet and power connection.

U940 Power button
Lastly the power button is located in the upper right hand corner of the keyboard.

U940 overall

Overall the design is rather nice, the complete dotted texture look throughout makes it very nice to look at. The device includes some nice symmetry and keeps things where they need to be, while somethings will require getting use to(F keys and trackpad) overall the laptop was a pleasure to use. Typing was a great pleasure and I was easily able to max my typing speed after a short while. The back light on the keyboard obviously makes it a pleasure to use in low light situations with FN + Z always there to active/deactivate the back light when needed. The weight of the laptop comes in at 1.72kgs(3.79lbs) which is light for a 14-inch laptop but obviously ot the lightess out there, however there is a nice balance throughout the device and you can open the screen with one hand without having to hold the based down and stop it from lifting up with it.

Testing
Now let’s move on to some testing and check out things like performance and battery life.

Since this is a mid-range laptop, it’s not really aimed to break any performance records, but we expect to get a solid performance from the Core i5-3317U CPU and 6GB of DDR3(1600Mhz) RAM. While the Intel 4000HD will provide decent but not gaming required graphics. It will easily handle 1080p video without issue.

So for the what better test then a complete run through of PC Mark 7. It will test pretty much all the factors you would be looking for in a Ultrabook and give us a true idea of what to expect from the U940-10m.

Futurmark PC Mark 7

PC Mark 7
So we have the standard test results here and they are pretty much what we expected. The Core i5 processor inside will be able to handle most of your task assuming you aren’t looking to do video/photo editing. The U940 has decent performance behind it for the size and price and we don’t expect any slowness when browsing the internet or watching HD video.

Obviously it’s not meant for gaming and the results are on the very low side, but again this was expected. The built in 32GB SSD Cache will allow fast start up for the OS and most used apps, so you can expect some speedy results on typical usage.

Battery testing

Okay, so battery testing is fairly tricking as most of the time it won’t represent actual usages traits by a consumer, but luckily Futuremark have us cover here again with Powermark , which will essentially run through multiple test continually until the battery is drained to a certain point. So we set up the standard benchmark which runs 5 minutes each of the following tests.

Browsing workload
Gaming workload
Video workload
Word processing workload

Essentially Powermark will run each test for 5 minutes and then repeat until the battery has drained to a certain percentage. We ran the test down to 10% remaining and got the results from Powermark.

[easychart type=”horizbar” height=”30″ groupnames=”Battery Performance(in hours)” groupcolors=”00CC00,0070C0,A3A3A3″ valuenames=”Toshiba U940 ” group1values=”4.15″   ]

The test ran for over well over 3 hours and the Powermark results showed the device would last around 4hrs and 15 mins on load. So keep in mind that the test included around an hour of gaming workload tests. This is something we don’t expect people to use the laptop for, but none the less the test would really stress the CPU/Graphics. All in all the performance is extremely impressive for a device of this size and weight. Getting 4 hours minimum with 1 hour of gaming, browsing the internet, video and word processing. These tests were done at 50 percent brightness, so with just browsing and videos with 50 percent or less brightness we can easily see you getting well over 4-5 hours battery life.

Conclusion

So how do we sum up the Toshiba U940. It’s an ultrabook with a capable processor and graphics, smooth and elegant design that gives great functionally and ease of use, but what really makes the U940 a great ultrabook is the fact it’s not pretending to be anything else. No over the top features that most people won’t use or costly additions, the U940 is aimed at being a decent performing, small and sleep laptop. While there are some custom traits that will need some getting use to, like the touchpad and functions keys being secondary.

The design is actually quite appealing and rather nice to look at. The u940 packs all the important connectivity including USB 3.0/2.0 (which also supports sleep charging), HDMI, SD Card slot and Ethernet connection. Built in Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless B/G/N and Intel Wireless display technology. 

The only real downside is the lack of a higher resolution display, bringing only a 1366 x 768 resolution display to the table in this day and age just seems like a little oversight, it seems that every manufacture is making the same oversight, truthfully, no laptop should have anything less than a 1080p display. The battery life will give you at least 4 hours depending on brightness and usage levels, basically we suspect web browsing and video to be the most used traits, so with a 50 percent brightness you can easily expect well over 4 hours battery life.

Since this is the high end model of the U940 series, it packs the faster processor, bigger hard drive and more RAM. The lack of a 1080p display makes the price a little steep at around €750, while overall the laptop performs perfectly beyond that. if you are looking for a comfortable to use Ultrabook with decent battery life and all around performance, then you can’t go wrong with the U940. If you are looking for something that doesn’t empty your wallet so much, then take a look at the lower spec’d versions that should perform nearly the same with less Hard drive/RAM and start off at around €600. Either way the U940 series is easily up for the task.

Craig O'Sullivan

Creator of Geektech.ie Passionate about Technology and always looking for that next cool gadget or app

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