Toshiba Satellite P845T review

Pros

  • 10-point touchscreen
  • Solid performance
  • Built-in optical drive

Cons

  • Shallow travel on keys
  • Keyboard isn't backlit
  • Large amount of bloatware

If you've been paying any attention to tech lately, chances are you've heard phrases like "Windows 8," "Ultrabook," and "touchscreen" being tossed around with increasing frequency. The Toshiba Satellite P845T is a mainstream laptop that encompasses two of those phrases, offering users a Windows 8-equipped system with a touchscreen for just over £600. While it's not a stylishly thin Ultrabook, it nonetheless delivers a decent combination of features and performance for anyone interested in jumping headfirst into Microsoft's new touch-centric operating system.

Design and features

Despite not being an Ultrabook, at 349 x 254 x 29mm (WxDxH), the Satellite P845T is a fairly compact system. Given that touchscreens generally add additional weight to a system, the fact that it tips the scales at 1.95kg is understandable, and puts it on par with another touchscreen laptop, the Asus VivoBook S400CA (which weighs 2kg). In any event, the Satellite P845T can still be carried around in a laptop bag or backpack without becoming unduly burdensome.

The Satellite P845T's aluminium chassis is draped in an attractive silver finish with an etched texture running along the surface. It's a handsome look, and on a more practical level, the aluminium material is sturdy enough to withstand its share of bumps and bruises, more so than a system constructed from plastic.

The Satellite P845T's black chiclet-style keys contrast nicely with the system's overall silver finish. That said, the keyboard isn’t backlit, which quite literally leaves those working in dimly lit environments in the dark. Worse still, its shallow keystrokes make typing for extended periods of time an unnecessarily frustrating endeavour. For anyone who plans to do a large amount of typing on their machine, this could obviously be an issue.

The Satellite P845T's responsive touchpad is very user-friendly, so pinching, zooming, scrolling, and Windows 8-specific functions – like bringing up the Charms menu or cycling through open apps – can be pulled off smoothly. The capacitive touchscreen, meanwhile, supports the same gestures with equal aplomb without exhibiting any wobbling during use. Practically speaking, you'll likely wind up using the touchscreen while navigating through Windows 8's tiled interface, resorting to the touchpad in desktop mode. However you choose to proceed, though, the touchscreen and touchpad duo effectively gives users more options to navigate the Windows 8 interface.

The Satellite P845T's glossy 14in display is equally easy on the eyes, and its maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 delivers bright colours and crisp text. Users can throw their DVDs into the P845T's internal DVD+RW drive and enjoy movies and online videos in 720p high definition. Two Harmon Kardon speakers are housed in symmetrical grilles beneath the display and pump out sound at loud enough volumes to fill a medium-sized room without sounding tinny.

Port selection on the Satellite P845T is decent. An SD card reader can be found at the front of the system while the right side houses two USB 3.0 ports alongside an Ethernet port. The left side, meanwhile, features headphone and mic jacks, a third USB 3.0 port, a VGA port, and a full-size HDMI output. The latter comes in handy since it eliminates the need to separately purchase dongles or adapters when connecting the system to a larger display. Even better, the Satellite P845T features Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, so users who outfit their televisions with an aftermarket adapter can ditch the HDMI cable altogether and wirelessly beam content to their HDTVs.

The Satellite P845T's 640GB 5,400rpm hard drive comes with a large serving of preloaded software. As is often the case, these programs vary in utility from useful (a full year of Norton Antivirus 2013) to app stores (WildTangent Games, Windows Store) with some trialware (thirty days of Norton Online Backup and Norton Anti-Theft) sprinkled in between. There's also an avalanche of preinstalled proprietary software that includes, among other things, Toshiba Recovery Disc Creator, Toshiba Video Player, and so on. Toshiba covers the Satellite P845T with a one year warranty on parts and labour.

Performance

With its 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U CPU and 6GB of RAM, the Satellite P845T stacked up relatively well against its peers. In terms of processing power, the Toshiba machine’s PCMark 7 score of 2,635 points wasn’t one of its stronger points – falling behind the similarly priced Asus VivoBook S400CA’s 3,013 points – but still, it’s a solid enough score. The P845T’s Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.39 points was better, and almost level pegging with the Asus S400CA (2.40).

The Satellite P845T also did fairly well on our 3DMark 11 benchmark tests, hitting 1,214 points with entry-level settings and 219 points with extreme settings. That beat out the Asus S400CA, which managed 1,101 and 187 points respectively.

In addition to its capacity for multimedia consumption, the Satellite P845T likewise displayed some moderately impressive chops in terms of media creation. It ran through our Handbrake video encoding test in a brisk 1 minute and 27 seconds. Similarly, the Satellite P845T churned through our Photoshop CS6 benchmark in 5 minutes and 33 seconds, nearly a whole minute faster than the Asus VivoBook’s 6 minutes and 28 seconds.

The Satellite P845T's integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU isn't intended for high-end gaming, so its inability to cross the so-called 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier hardly came as a surprise. Accordingly, its performance in Aliens vs. Predator (14 fps with medium quality settings in 1,366 x 768 resolution; 7fps with maximum quality in 1,366 x 768 resolution) landed in the same ballpark as the Asus VivoBook (13 fps and 7 fps respectively). Similarly, its performance in our Heaven benchmark tests (12 fps with medium quality settings in 1,366 x 768 resolution; 6fps with maximum quality in 1,366 x 768 resolution) was on par with its peers.

The Satellite P845T's removable 45Whr battery lasted for 5 hours and 22 minutes on our battery rundown test, putting it ahead of the Asus VivoBook by an hour. In any event, the Satellite P845T's battery offers a decent amount of life, but it won't get you through an entire day on a single charge, so be sure to have a power outlet nearby for periods of extended use.

Verdict

Toshiba’s Satellite P845T boasts a reasonable level of performance and feature set – but the rival Asus VivoBook S400CA delivers similar specs and benchmark results, a touchscreen, and a slim Ultrabook form-factor at the same price level. The Toshiba laptop’s less than ideal keyboard is also a worry. Even so, the Satellite P845T is a solid offering, and worth checking out if you’re in the market for a decent performing, touch-enabled Windows 8 mainstream laptop.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Toshiba Satellite P845T

Primary Optical Drive

DVD+RW

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 8

Graphics Card

Intel HD Graphics 4000

Weight

1.95kg

Processor

Intel Core i5-3317U

Networking Options

802.11n

RAM

6GB

Screen Size

14in

Storage Capacity (as Tested)

640GB