This little laptop packs in plenty of power but similarly-priced ultraportables are more capable
14 in 1,366×768 display, 1.7kg, 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U , 6.00GB RAM, 750GB disk, Windows 8
The slim Toshiba Satellite U940-11N Ultrabook is lightweight, inoffensive to look at and easy to fit into even a fairly small bag, as it measures just 21x340x239mm. Helping to keep the size and weight down is the absence of a disc drive, which has become commonplace in the slimmest of modern laptops. However, there are still three USB ports, two of which support USB3, and an SDXC card reader.
A 750GB hard disk provides plenty of internal storage for all your programs and media. There’s also a 32GB SSD which is set up as a cache – storing data loaded from the main hard disk in order to make applications load more quickly and the laptop boot faster. The U940-11N is also well set up for wireless networking, with both 802.11n Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth adaptor, and a Gigabit Ethernet port for super-fast networking.
We weren’t terribly keen on the U940-11N’s keyboard and touchpad. Although we were able to type fairly accuracy, the flat, square Chiclet-style keys feel rather spongy and don’t have much travel. We also found that we occasionally brushed the touchpad as we typed, moving the cursor to unexpected places on the page. We’d recommend using a program such as Touchfreeze to disable the touchpad while you type. We found the wrist rest became distractingly warm, but only after the laptop had been in use for a couple of hours.
Despite the slightly poor keyboard, we were rather impressed by the laptop overall. It’s quite powerful for its size and price, thanks to a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor, which gave us an overall score of 45 in our benchmark tests. The laptop also has 6GB of RAM, and the combination of this decent amount of memory and the relatively powerful processor means you’ll be able to get stuck into even intensive applications such as video editing. The laptop lacks a dedicated graphics chipset, but its on-chip Intel HD graphics 4000 GPU can just about handle 3D games at low quality settings. In Dirt Showdown at 1,280×720 and low quality settings, we saw a just-about-playable 28.3fps, so less-demanding games and classics such as Half-Life 2 are on the cards.
The laptop’s processing power does have one drawback, and that’s battery life. Just over six hours is fine for a standard laptop, but we’re used to seeing more like eight hours from laptops with the Ultrabook branding.
The laptop’s 14in widescreen display has a gloss finish which makes colours look vivid, although we’re not convinced by the screen’s contrast, as we had trouble differentiating between close shades of very light and very dark colours. As with many laptops with glossy screens, you’ll have to position the screen away from bright light sources, as it’s highly reflective. The 1,366×768 resolution complements the screen’s small size – higher resolutions can be uncomfortable on small displays. The laptop’s integrated speaker produces clear sound but is not very loud.
This is a perfectly functional, fairly powerful, but rather dull Ultrabook. Fortunately, few people want a mid-range laptop for its excitement value. Despite a relatively poor keyboard, this is a good choice if you’re looking for a versatile laptop that’s light enough to carry with you wherever you go. The U940-11N is also significantly more powerful than rivals such as the £500 Core i3 version of the Asus VivoBook S400CA. However, it costs almost the same as the Acer Aspire Timeline U M5-581TG which – despite its poorly positioned touchpad – still has a better keyboard, larger screen, is more stylish and can play games.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3337U|
|Processor clock speed||1.8GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Viewable size||14 in|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Total storage capacity||750GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SDXC|
|Other ports||3.5mm headphone port, 3.5mm mic port|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Warranty||one year collect and return|