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Toshiba Satellite Click Mini review – hands on

A hybrid tablet that doesn't cost the earth? We try out Toshiba's Satellite Click Mini at CES

2-in-1 tablet hybrids burst onto the scene courtesy of the Asus transformer, but have remained mostly high-end or at least mid-range devices. Toshiba is looking to change that with the Satellite Click Mini, an inexpensive tablet with accompanying tablet dock that could replace a traditional laptop without breaking the back. We got the chance to try one out at the company’s CES booth, in order to bring you some first impressions.

There’s no denying the Satellite Click Mini is a seriously compact hybrid. With just enough screen bezel around the 8.9in display to comfortably hold it without obscuring the screen with your fingers in tablet mode, it’s small enough to hold in one hand and just 9.8mm thick. By itself it weighs just 470g, and even when docked with the keyboard the pair weigh less than a kilo. With the lid closed in laptop mode it’s still less than 20mm thick, so could be the ideal travelling companion for anyone that wants a Windows tablet but occasionally needs a physical keyboard too.

Toshiba is launching the Click Mini in a matte white finish, but we thought it looked a little toy-like; we prefer the alternative brushed metal effect silver, which looks a little more sensible.

Despite being built to a budget, Toshiba has managed to squeeze in a Full HD, 1,920×1,200 resolution IPS display with fantastic viewing angles and bright, vibrant colours. The 254 pixels-per-inch display density means it’s a challenge to spot individual pixels unless you move your face right up against the screen, and the high resolution means you can work on two documents side-by-side, even on the relatively compact screen. Text and images looked crisp and clear, and light reflections weren’t really an issue either – even under the harsh lights of the CES show floor.

By itself, the tablet should last a respectable eight hours on a single charge, but when docked to the keyboard (which has its own internal battery), that should double to an impressive 16 hours of video playback. That means you’ll be able to go an entire working day without having to reach for a mains socket.

The keyboard dock holds the tablet firmly in place with a locking mechanism that prevents you from disconnecting the two accidentally. It’s counterbalanced so you can use it in laptop mode without the weight of the tablet causing it to topple over, and the docking mechanism raises the keyboard tray slightly for a more comfortable typing position.

There’s not a great deal of room to rest your hands, but the QWERTY keys are all impressively large given the size of the device. They have a decent amount of travel considering the thickness of the keyboard tray too, and because it connects physically to the tablet rather than via Bluetooth there’s no messing around with pairing or lag when typing. We wouldn’t like to spend more than a few hours writing in one go, as it’s still a little to cramped for our tastes, but it’s more than sufficient for basic office work and web browsing.

The tiny touchpad is less impressive; it’s simply too small, and with the touchscreen less than an arm’s length away we preferred to use that instead. The touchpad buttons don’t have a lot of travel either.

Inside, an Intel Atom Z3735F processor running at 1.83GHz is paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, and should be perfectly capable of basic desktop tasks, web browsing and multimedia playback. It was snappy enough during our short time with the system, although as it was a pre-production sample there were a few quirks that means we’ll have to wait until a final retail model arrives to pass final judgment on performance.

There’s not an awful lot of room left after Windows is installed for your files, but the tablet has a microSD card slot for adding extra capacity and the keyboard dock has its own dedicated full-size SD card, so you could potentially add up to 256GB of extra space across two cards if you need more storage. The keyboard dock also has a full-size USB port, while the tablet itself makes do with microUSB. It also has a micro HDMI video output and 3.5mm audio jack.

With a brilliant high resolution screen, the Satellite Click Mini is something of a surprise. It’s tiny and doesn’t cost the earth, but it’s fully featured and does everything you would expect from a budget laptop – plus you get the benefit of tablet mode, or double the battery life when paired with the keyboard dock. For around £250 when it launches in the UK in the coming months, it’s definitely one to look out for if you’re not looking to spend a fortune on your next Windows machine. We’ll be back with a full review as soon as it launches.

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