Summary: The media-geared Toshiba Satellite U845W has an extra-wide 21:9 screen and Harman Kardon speakers, but no DVD or Blu-ray player. The screen is a novelty act that offers some benefits, but it's really no better than your standard laptop for most uses.
Pros: A clean design, impressive-sounding speakers, an extra-large 14.4-inch wide-screen display, and good battery life make the Toshiba Satellite U845W a solid ultrabook with some notable extras.
Cons: That extra-wide screen, when it works with movie files, can be fun; but many streaming video services don't play nicely, and the U845W lacks a DVD player. The screen height is smaller than the average 13-inch laptop, and the keyboard is not that comfortable.
Summary: Windows 8 could bring a new era of consolidated, simplified product lines. For now, that doesn’t seem to be the case–if anything, it seems to be encouraging even more diversification and experimentation. Of course, like natural selection, when there are many mutations, many will fail. The U845W is a failed device. The extra screen size only makes the device more expensive and more unwieldy; the actual benefits it offers are negligible and ephemeral.
Summary: Like its Windows 7 predecessor, the $1,085 Toshiba Satellite U845W-S430 has a beautiful 14.4-inch wide-screen display and classy design. And with a powerful Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM, the U845W was able to push past the competition in our performance tests. However, it's held back slightly by its mediocre keyboard. Unless you're a dedicated cinemaphile, we suggest waiting for other, less expensive nontouch-screen Windows 8 notebooks to hit the market.
Summary: I’m not convinced that a laptop with a 21:9 aspect ratio display makes sense if you view it as a computer built for watching videos. There just aren’t that many videos available with that aspect ratio — especially since the Toshiba Satellite U845W doesn’t include a Blu-ray drive (or any optical disc drive).
Most of the videos you’re likely to watch on this computer are online videos or movies you’ve downloaded from the internet.
Conclusion: In a world where every notebook is accused of looking too much like the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, we give credit to Toshiba for coming up with a very attractive and unique design that's not in the least Applesque. And we give another dose of praise for thinking outside the box. Every laptop overall looks and acts much like every other laptop.
Pros: Widescreen high res display, excellent materials, good selection of ports.
Conclusion: Ultimately, there's a hint of the gimmicky about the Satellite U845W-S410, or at least of an intriguing idea not quite fulfilled finely. Maybe Toshiba will take us up on our idea of a 21:9-screened, 17-inch Blu-ray Qosmio.
Pros: Super-wide 21:9 display makes watching movies a Hollywood experience, Suitable for arranging application windows side by side, HDMI, Ethernet, and three USB 3.0 ports
Cons: Dependent on searching for streaming/download 21:9 content, Split screen can make for small text, A bit unwieldy compared to other 14-inch ultrabooks
Summary: Those looking for a cinematic experience--or simply looking to get the benefit of nearly two screens in one--will find the Toshiba Satellite U845W an intriguing option. For $999, you get a 14-inch Ultrabook with a wide, bright screen, excellent audio and seven hours of battery life. The biggest issue holding this notebook back is its mushy keyboard. We'd be a lot more willing to live with this system's wider frame if the typing experience were better.