The Toshiba Satellite 12 may be a few inches smaller than its stablemate, the impressive 15.6in Satellite Radius 15, but the newly announced convertible is no downgrade. In fact, it's the first device with a 360-degree screen hinge to feature a 4K display, and can be loaded with up to 8GB of RAM and a Core i7-6500U processor from Intel's 6th generation Skylake family.
Toshiba demonstrated the machine at IFA Berlin, where we spent a few minutes getting a hands-on with the new device.
Our primary problem with the Satellite Radius 15 is that it's far too big to be used in a tablet configuration, attained by flipping the screen all the way around so it presses against the back of the keyboard section.
This isn't such a problem with the Satellite Radius 12, which measures a more manageable 299x209x15.4mm and weighs 1.32kg, nearly a full kilogram lighter than its larger sibling. That's still heavy by tablet standards, but a definite improvement for highly mobile users.
Connectivity options have been upgraded with the addition of a USB-C port, alongside two USB 3.0 ports. The former should ensure faster data transfers, although be warned that standard USB cables won't fit.
The keyboard has been shrunk to fit this smaller device, but it's still quite comfy to use. We had no problems typing quickly and accurately although, as with the Satellite Radius 15, it would have been nice if the keys were physically locked in place when using a tablet configuration. Mashing them in while holding the Satellite Radius 12 in one hand feels distractingly peculiar, even if their input is disabled.
The 12.5in UHD display is the big selling point of the Satellite Radius 12, although a cheaper FHD model will also be available. We tested the former and, as expected, it looks pretty spectacular, with easily the sharpest images we've seen on a convertible.
Colours are deep and rich by default, and Toshiba has included software for quickly switching between various RGB profiles. This quickly put paid to our initial thought that the screen was oversaturated. It merely turned out to be just one of several optional colour settings.
We didn't have any problems with reflectivity, something which seriously hindered the Satellite Radius 15, although we could only use the Satellite Radius 12 plugged in at Toshiba's booth. This might well be a different story in direct sunlight or under different lighting.
Operating system and software
The Satellite Radius 12 will launch with Windows 10, and has been designed specifically for Microsoft's latest OS; the keyboard, for instance, includes a dedicated Cortana button for summoning the digital assistant.
Windows 10 is an excellent choice for a convertible like this, as its transforming UI can switch between a traditional desktop view and a more touch-friendly tablet mode whenever the screen is rotated. This worked perfectly during the time we spent testing, bringing up a prompt asking whether we'd like to switch modes as soon as we flipped the screen. This can also be set to occur automatically without a prompt.
However, we did spot quite a lot of pre-installed software, which is rarely a good sign. It can be hard to tell what will be found on the hard drive at launch and what has been included solely for a presentation, but hopefully Toshiba will tone down the bloatware.
We couldn't run any benchmarks, but were otherwise very impressed by the Satellite Radius 12's swiftness. Everything from altering colour balance to loading webpages to scrolling through photo albums is done instantaneously, without a hint of lag or stuttering.
This is to be expected, considering the high-end hardware and the premium price tag of €1,449 and upwards. The 4K screen option will push that up even further, establishing the Satellite Radius 12 as a premium buy rather than a mass rollout device.
We used a model with the maximum 256GB SSD. That will be fine for most prople, and using solid-state storage naturally helps the system boot up and run faster, as was the case in our hands-on.
Then again, those who need a machine for design or creative work may find 256GB filling up very quickly, necessitating cloud storage or a device with a more spacious, conventional hard drive.
The high price is a slight turn off, but the Satellite Radius 12 directly addresses several complaints we had about its 15.6in predecessor. It's certainly lighter and more portable, although a more thorough test is required to make sure the battery can survive the drain of a 4K screen.
In all likelihood, these strong specs will make Toshiba's latest effort an attractive option in the growing 360-degree convertible market - for those who can afford it, anyway.
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