laptops

Toshiba Satellite Click Laptop Review

With slow performance and a lackluster keyboard, Toshiba's hybrid doesn't really click.

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Who says a hybrid has to be expensive? Certainly not Toshiba, who offers a moderately priced Windows 8 laptop/tablet in the Satellite Click (MSRP $599.99). Featuring a dual-core AMD A4 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of hard drive space, and a 13.3-inch detachable touchscreen, the Click's price tag feels too good to be true.

Well, like most things that are too good to be true—you know the rest.

The Click has some issues, but chief among them is how slow it is. No matter the task you give it—booting up, installing a program, launching an app—Toshiba's hybrid will take its sweet time. On top of that, the lackluster keyboard complicates the basics. Updating your status on Facebook shouldn't be this difficult.

Unless you find this on super sale, you should probably get your hybrid fix elsewhere.

Usability & Screen

An upside-down screen is never a good sign.

When closed, the Satellite Click is one unique device. Its coloring resembles plenty of other brushed metal laptops, although you'll only find plastic here. The Click's major focal point, though, is the giant clamp on the back, which is actually the hinge that holds the screen/tablet in place. It has an industrial look to it, which is a rarity for a laptop. If the Click was thinner and lighter, it would be a real head-turner.


Inside, you'll find a keyboard—I know, these are on every laptop, but the Click's is different. This keyboard is one of the worst I've used. The keys barely have any travel—that is, they don't move much as you type. What does move is the laptop's foundation, which bends with every keystroke because of its cheap construction. The whole rig is less comfortable and less accurate than any in recent memory.

The Click's keyboard is a real shame because I know Toshiba can craft a rock-solid typing interface. Toshiba's KIRAbook, which employs similar rectangular keys, is a thousand times more comfortable to type on than the Click.

Things don't get much better with the touchpad. When you press down to activate a mouse-click, the bottom of the laptop bends. This is not a good sign. It doesn't help that scrolling with two fingers—one of my most-used gestures on any touchpad—barely works. Sometimes a page will scroll, while other times nothing happens at all. When scrolling does work, it doesn't feel fluid—it feels delayed. At least the Click has a touchscreen.

This hybrid's claim to fame is indeed its detachable 1366 x 768 display. While not full HD, it does look pretty crisp and it gets very bright. Touching it is responsive, but the screen itself has a cheap quality to it. When you tap it, the screen sounds hollow, not solid and reassuring like an iPad.

Scrolling with two fingers, one of my most-used gestures on any touchpad, barely works.

Above the keyboard on the left side is a switch that unhinges the touchscreen. Detaching the screen and using the Click as a tablet is as simple as pressing this switch and pulling the screen away from the keyboard. When using the Click as a pure tablet, you don't have to deal with its dreaded keyboard—a definite plus. It is on the heavier side, though, so using it as a tablet gets tiresome.

The Click's tablet also has an irritating way of automatically orienting itself upside-down. I know what you're thinking: Review guy, you're holding the tablet upside-down! I most certainly am not. The proper way to hold a Windows tablet is with the Windows button towards the bottom and the front-facing camera at the top. Every tablet has its camera at the top. I hope this is a faulty accelerometer and not just a poor design choice.

When you finally place the tablet back into the keyboard, you're greeted with a satisfying "click." Take a wild guess how they named this laptop (no, not after the Adam Sandler movie).

Performance

At least it turns on.

After the poor handling experience, I wasn't expecting performance gold with the Toshiba Satellite Click. After all, this is a hybrid computer that only costs $599.99—half of what many ultrabooks cost.

With that said, the Click is still painfully slow. Just turning it on is a lengthy affair, although program installation might be the worst offense. The Click ships with Windows 8, but I make sure every laptop we receive is fully updated before starting any kind of test. That means fully updating to Windows 8.1, Microsoft's gigantic addition to its operating system. The Click took forever to complete this update—upwards of four hours.

The Click is incredibly sluggish for two reasons: its hard drive and its processor.

Toshiba's hybrid is incredibly sluggish for two reasons: its hard drive and its processor. Toshiba gives you a 500GB hard drive, but it's clocked at 5400RPM: the slowest hard drive speed available. This is a boon if you're a media fiend, although I'd rather have the performance of a solid-state drive and use a large external drive for my media files.

The processor has no saving grace, however. AMD's dual-core A4-1200 chip is the definition of low-powered. Running processor-heavy benchmark tests like PCMark and Geekbench produced some of the lowest scores we've seen on a laptop. And the low price tag is no defense: We tested a cheaper hybrid that performed better in every category—the $400 Asus Transformer Book T100.

Comparing these two hybrids exposes the Click as an inferior device. Running games, using Excel and Photoshop, and launching programs were all quicker with Asus' little hybrid. The Click is larger (13.3 inches vs. 10.1 inches) and its hard drive is bigger (500GB vs. 64GB) than the Asus, but in every test we ran, the Asus nevertheless trounced the Click.

In areas where other laptops get full bars of WiFi reception, the Click gets half.

Even battery life isn't amazing on this device, although I wouldn't call it horrible. With normal use, I clocked 6 hours and 21 minutes of battery life. Most laptops using Intel's fourth-gen processor get over 7 hours, so again, the chip is to blame. Still, over 6 hours of battery life isn't all that bad.

What is bad is the Click's WiFi reception. In areas where other laptops get full bars of reception, the Click gets half. And don't even think of getting support for 5GHz networks—I'm lucky the Click picked up normal 2.4GHz networks.

Software

Surprisingly uncluttered

More is usually better, except when computer software is involved. Most laptops come with lots of bloatware, or programs that you'll never use and just take up hard drive space. Thankfully, Toshiba avoids this with the Click.

The Click ships with Windows 8, although if you want the newest features, you need to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

The most prominent app included is Toshiba Start, which is a news app... I don't know about you, but when I think of news, I don't think "Toshiba." Regardless, the app has a clean interface and finds news stories written by the Associated Press. Forgettable, but some might like it.

Toshiba also includes its own media player, which finds all of your music, pictures, and videos, and gives you an overview of them in a simple interface. There isn't any real point to using this app over the default Windows player, though. True media enthusiasts will end up downloading the VLC media player anyways.

I mentioned in the previous section that the Click ships with Windows 8, although if you want the newest features, you need to upgrade to Windows 8.1, which is free. The update normally takes around an hour on most laptops, but it took over four on the Click. Windows 8.1 is worth the wait, so if you own the Click, you'll be stuck twiddling your thumbs for a while.

The Verdict

Toshiba deserves better.

I would say you get what you pay for with the $599.99 Toshiba Satellite Click, but with the aforementioned $400 Asus Transformer Book T100 running circles around the Click's performance, that saying doesn't ring true.

The Click seems like it's marketed towards families and students, although with its subpar keyboard, I certainly wouldn't want to type an essay on it. Using the Click in tablet mode provides some satisfactory results, however. As a media player, this hybrid works, especially because of its large 500GB hard drive. Just don't try to do anything that will tax the processor, like gaming, photo editing, or video converting. The Click simply cannot handle these kinds of activities.

If anything, Toshiba's Click is a valuable lesson about how beneficial a solid-state hard drive is to a computer's performance. Sure, a faster processor helps, and so does more RAM, but if your hard drive can't keep up? No amount of expensive specs will save it from sluggish performance.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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