Toshiba Radius 12 assessment: A 4K laptop computer with compromises
- Beautiful 4K, Technicolor-licensed display choice
- Light-weight design
- Keyboard is extra snug than it seems
- Quick efficiency
- Strong audio
- Extra ports than a few of its rivals
- Beneficiant entry-degree specs
- Worst-in-class battery life
- Much less premium design than rival machines
- Irritating touchpad
Toshiba’s Radius 12 convertible has the elements of a fantastic ultraportable laptop computer, however sadly, it will appear that its biggest asset can also be its biggest weak spot: That beautiful 4K, Technicolor-licensed display choice leads to worst-in-class battery life. Hopefully, with future chip enhancements, Toshiba will not should make this type of compromise.
The Radius 12 is a halo product, however you would not essentially realize it at first look, with the machine powered down. Although the lid is customary out of faintly brushed metallic, the graceful, plasticky surfaces all through make the gadget really feel lower than premium.
You then decide it up. The machine is so mild that it almost excuses the drab design. (I say “almost” as a result of there are, the truth is, machines just like the 12-inch MacBook that weigh even much less and handle to really feel extra luxurious in-hand.) And whereas it won’t be a lot to take a look at, it is nicely-constructed beneath its ho-hum floor; the display does not wobble when touched, and the palm relaxation does not flex whenever you grip it between your fingers.
On a sensible degree, too, the chassis is residence to a helpful choice of ports, together with a full-sized HDMI socket, two USB three.zero connections, a smaller USB Sort-C port, a full-sized SD card reader, a headphone jack and a quantity rocker for when the gadget is in pill mode. Examine that to the MacBook, which makes do with one measly USB Sort-C connection, and does not even include a dongle within the field.
To date in our tour we’ve not but powered on the Radius 12, however now can be a very good time: The non-compulsory 4K show is probably going the rationale you are contemplating shopping for this within the first place. The glass stretches nearly from edge to edge, with the skinniest of bezels appearing as a nominal buffer between the show and the remainder of the machine. I stay unconvinced that three,840 x 2,one hundred sixty decision is important on a show this small — a barely decrease pixel rely would nonetheless look sharp and can be much less devastating on battery life, and there is not but a lot 4K content material to observe anyway. Even so, there is no query that the pixel density helps make the display as beautiful as it’s.
Simply as necessary, maybe (or extra so): The 4K model of the show (not the entry-degree 1080p one) is Technicolor-licensed, which suggests whenever you boot up the Radius 12 for the primary time, you will be hit not simply with tremendous crisp photographs, however vibrant, saturated colours. It jogs my memory of how I felt years in the past once I examined the primary telephones and tablets with Tremendous AMOLED screens: The Radius 12’s panel is beautiful in a method that the majority different laptops have not but come near matching. Fortuitously, although, shade-correct screens are turning into extra widespread, and maybe someday we’ll even start to take them without any consideration.
The audio does not disappoint both. For the Radius 12, Toshiba went with Harman Kardon, which it solely does on its highest-finish machines; for every thing else, it makes use of Skullcandy’s tech, which does not sound nearly as good. On this case, the sound comes out of a speaker on the bottom of the hinge, which suggests you must get unobstructed sound whatever the mode you occur to be utilizing the laptop computer in. Except for the truth that the audio system aren’t muffled on the underside, the audio is balanced and the quantity loud; I not often needed to pump it previous the midway mark when alone in my house.Keyboard and trackpad
The Radius 12’s keyboard is extra snug than it seems. With a flat profile, and a handful of undersized buttons, together with the Caps Lock, Ctrl, Shift and arrow keys, it would be straightforward to put in writing off as poorly designed. By some means, although, I loved typing on it regardless of myself. Actually, this hundreds-of-phrases-lengthy evaluation you are studying was composed on the Radius 12. Even with the shrunken-down buttons, I not often hit the fallacious one when contact-typing, which is not all the time the case — the Lenovo Yoga 900 additionally has a couple of undersized keys, and the typing expertise was at occasions so irritating that I implored the corporate to rethink the design on subsequent yr’s mannequin.
I additionally discovered that though the Radius 12’s keyboard is flat, it feels sturdy; regardless of how briskly or vigorously I typed, the keys bounced proper again. Whereas on different machines I may need to mash the buttons to ensure my presses register, that wasn’t an issue right here. I recognize too how comparatively quiet it’s. The backlighting got here in useful as properly, although that is in fact normal fare on notebooks on this worth vary.
If solely I favored the touchpad as a lot. (What’s it with this resurgence of dangerous laptop computer trackpads, by the best way? I really feel like I’ve hated each one I’ve examined in current months.) The cursor does not all the time go the place I would like, and I discovered myself by accident rearranging my pinned browser tabs (ugh!) many, many occasions. Even single-finger tapping regularly went awry: I might attempt to hit ship on an e mail or choose messages to delete, and my faucet would not register. Two-finger scrolling may also be uneven.
It acquired to the purpose the place I used my fingers to scroll when attainable, and even used my finger the place I actually wasn’t meant to — issues just like the small “choose” packing containers in Gmail. Interfaces like which will have been designed primarily for a mouse, however finally, I discovered that my very own digits have been often the extra correct enter device.Efficiency and battery life
It might be inaccurate to say that Toshiba did not minimize corners — it clearly made some tradeoffs right here — however in terms of sure key specs, like show high quality and internals, the corporate clearly wasn’t messing round. The configuration I examined (valued at $1,300) makes use of a 2.5GHz twin-core Core i7-6500U CPU, together with 8GB of RAM, built-in Intel HD 520 graphics and a 512GB strong-state drive.
And it is simply as quick as you’d anticipate it to be. The machine boots into the desktop in simply eight seconds, whereas the SSD (made by Toshiba itself), reaches peak learn speeds of 552 MB/s and prime writes of 489 megabytes per second. Whereas these learn speeds are typical for a flagship laptop computer, the write charges are distinctive: Different machines can obtain little greater than half these speeds. Want benchmarks? I’ve put some scores within the desk above. As you’ll be able to see, the Radius 12 delivers numbers which might be simply nearly as good if not barely higher than equally specced machines, just like the Yoga 900.
Toshiba charges the battery life at as much as 9 hours on the 1080p version, and as much as six and a half on the 4K mannequin. Sadly, I solely received to check the upper-res version, which did not fairly stay as much as its six-and-a-half hour declare, a minimum of not in my exams. With video looping and glued brightness, I acquired 5 hours and 12 minutes. That is not shocking — it’s a taxing check, in any case — however even decreasing the brightness to 50 % from sixty five did not assist; the machine nonetheless managed simply 5 hours and 4 minutes. As I learn evaluations written by my colleagues at different tech publications, I see they encountered brief runtime as nicely. Not shocking, I assume: a vibrant, tremendous-excessive-res panel will do this.
In order that’s a disgrace. Should you in any other case discover the Radius 12 interesting, maybe you will think about the 1080p model, with the concept you would be exchanging some pixels for longer battery life. I too would have an interest to check the entry-degree mannequin. If I do, I am going to remember to replace this evaluate with my findings.Configuration choices and the competitors
As of this writing, the Radius 12 is obtainable in two configurations on Toshiba’s web site. The cheaper one is listed at $1,000 (after prompt financial savings) with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1080p display and a 256GB strong-state drive. The second choice is the one I examined, presently retailing for $1,300 with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a bigger 512GB SSD and, in fact, that larger-res 4K show. Both method, the inclusion of 8GB of reminiscence and 256GB of storage is notable, particularly at this beginning worth.
Spec-sensible, then, the Radius 12 is not a nasty deal, whereas the keyboard, light-weight design and colourful display additionally make it value a better look. That stated, the battery life and finicky touchpad can be a dealbreaker for some, through which case there are a number of different worthy choices ready within the wings. The obvious comparability is Apple’s 12-inch MacBook ($1,299 and up), which weighs simply two kilos and contains a 2,304-by-1,440, 226-pixel-per-inch display. This too is a compromised machine. The battery life is considerably longer, providing almost eight hours of video playback, nevertheless it comes on the expense of watered-down efficiency. Additionally, whereas the MacBook has a leg up in sure areas, like its simpler-to-use touchpad, it is a step again in different methods, like that scarcity of ports I discussed earlier.
Should you have been in search of a Home windows machine, notably one with a convertible design, the Radius 12 is notable for a way skinny and lightweight it’s (a 360-hinge and touchscreen do add heft, in any case). That stated, when you can abdomen a barely heavier design, you will be rewarded with for much longer battery life. Working example: HP’s thirteen.three-inch Spectre x360 ($900-plus) begins at a heavier three.17 kilos, however lasted about eleven and a half hours in our exams (and that was with final-era processors; I am positive it does even higher with Intel’s new sixth-gen Core CPUs). Throw in a cushty keyboard, properly-made design and brilliant display, and it is one in every of our favourite Home windows notebooks of 2015.
One other convertible to think about is Lenovo’s Yoga 900 ($1,200 and up). At 2.eight kilos, it is truly barely lighter than the Radius 12, regardless of having a bigger thirteen-inch display. It additionally competes with the Radius 12 on specs, with the bottom mannequin together with the identical Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, plus a three,200 x 1,800 show. The battery life is longer, although: about 9 and a half hours in our checks. If I might change something, I might have Lenovo right these undersized keys I alluded to earlier, and problem an replace for the wonky touchpad. As with the Radius 12, the place I’ve some comparable considerations, it is extra an annoyance than a dealbreaker.
Lastly, there’s the Dell XPS thirteen ($800-plus), my favourite Home windows laptop computer of the yr. The one cause I did not point out it sooner is that it has a hard and fast display, which can come as a disappointment to individuals lifeless-set on a convertible 2-in-1 design. Fastened or no, although, it is a very good show: The glass extends almost edge to edge, flanked by some very skinny 5mm-thick bezels. That sensible use of the display actual property additionally signifies that the XPS thirteen has a extra compact footprint than different thirteen-inch laptops. Moreover, I just like the construct high quality; I benefit from the snug keyboard and brilliant display; and the efficiency is quick. Right here, too, the touchpad could be a bit jumpy, and whereas the battery life is respectable, it isn’t greatest in school. These shortcomings apart, it deserves its excessive score.Wrap-up
I just like the Toshiba Radius 12 greater than I assumed I might. When confronted with the poor battery life outcomes early in my testing course of, it was straightforward to imagine that between that, the flat-wanting keyboard, and Toshiba’s unimpressive monitor report in ultraportables, that the corporate had taken one other fallacious flip. In truth, the keyboard is extra snug than pictures would recommend, and whereas the runtime is certainly brief, the Radius 12 can nonetheless lay declare to quick efficiency, a beneficiant number of ports and one beautiful show.
With the battery life being as brief as it’s, it is nonetheless inconceivable for me to offer the Radius 12 my highest suggestion, or perhaps even a robust suggestion in any respect. However Toshiba acquired sufficient issues proper that even in the event you select to not purchase the Radius 12 now, it is nonetheless value maintaining a tally of. Maybe as chip know-how improves, Toshiba will have the ability to put out a machine that is simply as mild, and simply as quick, with simply as good a display, however that may last more on a cost. That may actually be one thing.
Dana Wollman is Managing Editor of Engadget, the place she runs a rising workforce of reporters and reviewers. She acquired her begin in tech journalism almost a decade in the past as a author for Laptop computer Magazine and the AP earlier than arriving at Engadget in 2011. She seems weekly on ABC Radio, and has additionally been a visitor on Bloomberg TV, CNN, CNBC, NPR and Fox Enterprise, amongst different retailers. Dana is a graduate of Wesleyan College and the Columbia Publishing Course, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.