I had a chance to meet with Toshiba in surprisingly sunny (and toasty!) San Francisco, California and check out their new wares (and some old ones). Like the other vendors, Toshiba is prepped for Windows 8 to land, but the direction the technology is taking to coincide with Windows 8 is fascinating if nothing else. Whether or not you think Windows 8 will flop, the hardware being designed around it is definitely the way things are going.

The big release, and the one that was leaked by the press in Europe, is the Satellite U925t. This is what Toshiba dubs a convertible ultrabook, and is meant to be an ultrabook first and a tablet second. The U925t's three pound chassis is evidence enough of that, but the convergence of tablet and notebook usage scenarios is consistent with what seems to be Microsoft's vision for the future of computing. It's difficult to argue with when you've seen it in action.

The U925t's 0.78" thin and weighs 3.2 pounds, but instead of opening in a clamshell the way conventional notebooks do, the screen hinge slides up similar to the Asus Eee Pad Slider and the Microsoft Surface, revealing a backlit keyboard and small dedicated clickpad. The display is a 12.5" IPS panel at 1366x768 and covered in Corning Gorilla Glass. Consistent with its secondary role as a tablet, there are front and rear-facing cameras along with an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer.

The underlying hardware is strong. Toshiba is opting for an Ivy Bridge Core i5, 128GB SSD, and DDR3-1600 (presumably at least 4GB) along with a healthy amount of modern wireless connectivity: 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Intel's WiDi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Near Field Communication on the left side of the wrist rest. Wired connectivity is handled by two USB 3.0 ports and a full-sized HDMI port.

Toshiba is expecting availability on October 26th; MSRP hasn't been finalized yet but should be just slightly north of a grand. Toshiba tends to price their notebooks competitively and there's no reason to expect that to change with the U925t.

The remainder of Toshiba's announcements are more traditional. Given the proximity of the Windows 8 launch to the back to school season, Toshiba's engineers elected to design most of the current generation of hardware in preparation for the impending transition. That means the ultra-widescreen (21:9) Satellite U845W will go essentially unchanged as will the LX835 All-in-One, with both just having the software updated as the hardware is already in place.

With that said, there are still a couple of new kinks in Toshiba's lineup. You'll probably have noticed that "thin is in," as ultrabooks are in many ways dictating the shape of notebooks across the market. To that end, Toshiba will have 14" and 15.6" ultrabooks on hand coming in at very competitive prices. The 14" Satellite U945 is essentially a conventional notebook slimmed down, featuring a Core i3 or i5 processor, 500GB mechanical hard disk with a 32GB SSD for caching, LED backlit keyboard, and USB 3.0 connectivity. Meanwhile, the 15.6" Satellite S955 will be available with both an ULV Ivy Bridge Core i5 or a Trinity-based AMD A8 processor, along with up to 8GB of DDR3 and up to 750GB of mechanical storage.

Finally, the only "full-sized notebook in the bunch," the 14" Satellite P845t features a capacitive touchscreen for Windows 8 along with a 750GB hard disk, 6GB of DDR3-1600, and three USB 3.0 ports.

As with the convertible U925t, these notebooks are all expected to land on October 26th to coincide with the release of Windows 8.

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  • guidryp - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    All of these sliding/flipping convertibles really don't meet the mark IMO. You end up with a 3lb or 4lb tablet.

    The Asus Transformer type where you separate the keyboard and tablet really seems to be the way to go for convertibles. That way you end up with a thinner sub 2lb tablet when you want to do tablet stuff.
  • phatboye - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    That is your opinion. I don't want a tablet with a detachable keyboard. I'd rather have a convertible laptop. It's all a matter of taste and I, for one, am glad that companies are offering choice.
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    If you cant detach the "tablet" or screen or whatever you want to call the display, how is it really different from a regular notebook?

    Personally my ideal configuration would be a notebook form factor in which you can remove the screen and use it as a tablet. The primary use would be with the keyboard attached and with a mouse. If you wanted ultimate mobility, say for trip or something or to watch netflix in bed, you can detach the display and use it as a tablet.

    I suppose something like the Asus Transformer, but it absolutely has to run windows. I pretty much hate android, it is still way buggy, or maybe it is just my particular tablet.
  • phatboye - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    "If you cant detach the "tablet" or screen or whatever you want to call the display, how is it really different from a regular notebook?"

    It's different in that it has a laptop form factor that can be converted into a tablet by flipping the screen.
  • Malphas - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    I'm with phatboye. You have your own usage scenario, and others have theirs. A tablet has limited utility for me but is useful on occasion, whilst a small and light laptop is very useful for my lifestyle. I can live with the extra size and weight on the occasion where I use such a device as a tablet, whilst having a separate, detachable keyboard would be a major nuisance the rest of the time. To that end, a convertible is definitely something I would be interested in, and presumably others, so it's good that manufacturers are catering to different people's needs.
  • Flunk - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    It depends what you want, you can fit a lot more hardware in a sliding/flipping convertible than you can with a trans-former type convertible.
  • kyuu - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    What is the reason why OEMs are refusing to put Trinity in 13/14 inch ultrabook form-factors and instead will only put them in their 15.6 inchers?
  • stm1185 - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Because the 15.6 is most likely a value machine while the ultrabooks are not, and ultrabook is an Intel branding thing that capitalizes on their marketing, much like Centrino did years back.
  • Malphas - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    Yeah, it's very annoying. OEM's don't seem to realise that people are interested in thin-and-light/Ultrabook-type devices for the form factor and appearance and don't especially care about having high-end internals. Obviously Intel is encouraging this because they want to sell more expensive chips and thus why they've created the Ultrabook platform.

    They're basically doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing and scrimping on things like screens and cases (looking into using plastic instead of aluminium) whilst continuing to use [relatively] expensive Intel CULV processors.

    The first company to realise what they need to do is really nail the housing, screen, keyboard, trackpad and build quality whilst using the cheapest internal components they can get away with, like a Brazos and a 64GB SSD, and undercut the competition will outsell everyone.
  • Granseth - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    I think if somebody made a big screentouchpad (like a 4"cellphone screen) it would be awesome with metro and win 8 as I think a more creative and alternative interaction would be great.

    But I don't want a tablet interface on a PC I use with mouse and keyboard. And I don't feel any need to abandon win 7 for a while, so they might as well take their time to get it right.

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