And now for something different: the Toshiba Satellite U845W. Not to be confused with the wildly conventional Satellite U845 (no "W" at the end) 14" Ultrabook, the U845W is *really* widescreen. It has a 14.4" display with a 21:9 cinematic widescreen aspect ratio that translates into 1792 x 768 pixels. Remember the wide but short Sony Vaio P? This is the P grown up into a 4 pound Ultrabook.
Before you dismiss the Satellite U845W as a freak, watch our video review. It's not just for widescreen movie trailers on the web that fill the screen with no letterboxing. It's fantastic for productivity because you can have two windows open side by side. If you use Adobe CS apps with their many floating palettes, those palettes won't obscure your image. And games that support this resolution, like Batman Arkham City feel capacious and cinematic.
The Satellite U845W starts at $999 and you get a very competitive Ultrabook for the price. The design is unique and very attractive. The casing is aluminum and soft touch rubber with extreme attention to detail: the finish wring around the slightly recessed trackpad and rubber feet with chrome surrounds make this feel like a luxury product. It reminds me of a Sony home electronics item or a set piece for a posh Scandinavian home; it's definitely unboring.
The laptop is available with third generation Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 CPUs, which is standard stuff for Ultrabooks. It comes with 6 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz RAM vs. the usual 4 gigs and there's a DIMM slot so you can upgrade memory. Our $999 base model has the 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 ULV, 6 gigs of RAM and a 500 gig 5400 RPM hard drive with a 32 gig mSATA SSD drive that's used as s system drive to speed up Windows and boot times. You can get it with a Core i7 CPU and 128 or 256 gig SSDs.
It has 3 USB 3.0 ports with sleep-and-charge, Ethernet (uncommon on Ultrabooks), a full size HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a combo mic/Sleep and Play jack that turns the notebook into an external speaker system for your portable media player or smartphone. That's pretty cool because the large Harmon Kardon speakers that flank the keyboard are some of the best we've heard on a laptop.
The Toshiba U845W has a backlit keyboard, webcam with facial recognition and a 48 Wh Lithium Ion battery that Toshiba claims is good for up to 8.36 hours of use. It has Bluetooth 4.0 + HS and Intel WiFi with WiDi.
Here's our Toshiba Satellite U845W video review. Our written review will follow next week.