The truth is we can’t credit Toshiba with making the best laptops. It is therefore possible to describe the company as one with a reputation of the sort of bargain-basement machines which you will get your hands on at big-box stores like Best Buy, and when it made its debut into flagship systems, its efforts have at some time dropped below the commendable mark. The Radius 12 seems to carry a difference though. I think I can confidently say it ticks off almost all the right boxes. Coming with a 4K, Technicolor-certified screen option and a 2.9-pound design — distinctively impressive for a convertible like this carrying a 360-degree hinge.
Not minding that the entry-level $1,000 model is presented with with a lower-res, lower-tech screen, the configuration is a beam of delight given that it brings in some impressive specs which could be all worth the money. But then if I am asked to recommend it, I wouldn’t easily do that — at least not now, anyway.
The Radius 12 happens to be a halo product, but you will not particularly take note of this at first glance, with the machine powered down. Forgetting the fact that the lid is made from faintly brushed metal, the smooth, plasticky surfaces throughout gives the device that feel of less than premium.
Then you pick it up. The machine is over comfortably light that it nearly excuses the drab design. (Please note the word “almost” here owing to the reality that there are practically machines in the likes of the 12-inch MacBook which even weigh less and yet does well to feel more luxurious in-hand.) in face of the understanding that, it might not be too eye-catching, it doesn’t exclude the credit that it is well-built underneath its ho-hum surface; the screen does better than wobble when touched, and the occasion of a flex of the palm rest wouldn’t happen, when you possibly grip it between your fingers.
Settling down a more practical level however, the chassis presents a useful selection of ports, well included here is a full-sized HDMI socket, two USB 3.0 connections, a full-sized SD card reader, a smaller USB Type-C port, headphone jack as well as a volume rocker which comes in handy when the device is in tablet mode. If you put this in comparison with the MacBook, which adequately brings in one contemptible small USB Type-C connection, and does only come with a dongle in the box if a goat can have a hungry lion for lunch.
I will say here that the optional 4K display is most probably the reason for your consideration of making a purchase in the first place. The glass virtually makes a stretch from edge to edge, presenting the skinniest of bezels playing the role of a nominal buffer between the display and the rest of the machine. I am yet to get my convictions that 3,840 x 2,160 resolution is most needed on a display this small — a little bit lower pixel count would yet maintain its sharp look and would be less demanding on battery life, and even at that, we can’t say there is much 4K content to watch anyway. Yet, there’s no doubt that the pixel density contributes in making the screen as beautiful as it is.
Keyboard and trackpad
Just at the same level of importance, perhaps (or more so): The 4K version of the display (which is not the entry-level 1080p one) is Technicolor-certified. The reality of this is that when you boot up the Radius 12 for the first time, you will come across more than super crisp images extending into vibrant, saturated colors. It brings memories to my mind of my feelings years ago when I at first tested the early phones and tablets with Super AMOLED screens: The Radius 12’s panel is surely gasping in a way that most other laptops haven’t yet come within a distance of rivaling. Most luckily, though, color-accurate screens are getting rarer these days, and who knows maybe come a day, we’ll even begin to take them for granted.
The audio doesn’t make room for disappointment either. For the Radius 12, Toshiba prefer to use Harman Kardon, a choice common only with its highest-end machines; for everything else, it makes use of Skullcandy’s tech, which doesn’t sound as pleasant though. When we come to this scenario, the sound proceeds from a speaker on the backside of the hinge, the result of this is that you should get undeterred sound unconnected with the mode you could be using the laptop in. Apart from the case where the speakers aren’t muffled on the bottom, the audio maintains its balance and the volume loud; I didn’t have to pump it past the halfway mark when having my privacy in my apartment.
The Radius 12’s keyboard practically boasts more comfort than its looks would suggest. Sporting a flat profile, as well as a handful of undersized buttons, with the inclusion of the Caps Lock, Ctrl, Shift and arrow keys, it really wouldn’t take much time to write off as poorly designed. Yet, I deny that I enjoyed typing on it in spite of myself. Most particularly, this thousands-of-words-long review you are reading now had its composure on the Radius 12. With possible deficiencies of shrunken-down buttons, I didn’t hit the wrong one often when I was touch-typing, which I would not say is the normal scenario– the Lenovo Yoga 900 also comes with a few undersized keys, and the typing experience was at some intervals really disappointing.
I also came to the discovery that although the Radius 12’s keyboard is flat, it has this sturdy feel; no matter the speed at which I typed or the vehemence even, the keys bounced right back. If I infer this to other machines, it could get necessary to mash the buttons to make sure my presses do make their effect, that wasn’t a difficulty here. I really commend how relatively quiet it is. The backlighting was really helpful as well, though that is something assured on notebooks in this price range.
If only I had good flair for the touchpad as much. The cursor didn’t really obey my touch as much as I wanted , and at times, I would go about unintentionally rearranging my pinned browser tabs a lot of times. Even single-finger tapping frequently went pretty inappropriate: I would try to select messages to possibly delete, and my tap wouldn’t really perform the needed effect. Two-finger scrolling can also be uncertain at times here.
Performance and battery life
It would be without fair accuracy to mention that Toshiba didn’t cut corners — it conspicuously made some tradeoffs here — but pertaining to some distinct relevant specs, like display quality and internals, the company was impressively on point. The configuration I had ran my test on (valued at $1,300) employs features like a 2.5GHz dual-core Core i7-6500U CPU, integrated Intel HD 520 graphics and a 512GB solid-state drive along with 8GB of RAM
And it’s just as fast as your expectations slate it to be. The machine boots into the desktop in say eight seconds, and then the SSD (produced personally by Toshiba) gets to maximum read speeds of 552 MB/s and top writes of 489 megabytes per second. While those read speeds could be common for a flagship laptop, the write rates are quite outstanding: Other machines can reach little more than half those speeds.
Toshiba has the rating of the battery life slated at nine hours on the 1080p edition, and up to six and a half on the 4K model. Rather unluckily, I only got to test the higher-res edition, which didn’t really measure up to its six-and-a-half hour assertion, it could have but then I didn’t see it in my tests.
With video looping and then fixed brightness, I managed to reach five hours and 12 minutes. This I would say wasn’t too shocking at least — given that it is a taxing test, after all — but then even bringing down the brightness to 50 percent from 65 didn’t alleviate the condition here ; the machine still stretched to just five hours and four minutes. Looking across other reviews, I see they stumbled across short runtime too. Not a big jolt I suppose: a bright, super-high-res panel will do that.
So that is quite disappointing; isn’t it? If you in any other means recognize the appeal of the Radius 12, possibly you’ll think to the 1080p version, with the concept that you preferring the option of some pixels for longer battery life.
Configuration options and the competition
As at when I was putting this together, you could get the Radius 12 in two configurations on Toshiba’s website. The cheaper one comes at the price of $1,000 (after instant savings) which carries features of a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1080p screen and a 256GB solid-state drive. The second option is the one I used in writing this review, which at present retails at $1,300 with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a larger 512GB SSD and, of not excusing the sure higher-res 4K display. Both way, having 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage is well significant, most notably at this starting price.
In the dimension of Spec, then, the Radius 12 isn’t a discouraging deal, while the keyboard, lightweight design and colorful screen also make it more appealing. Having said this, the battery life and finicky touchpad could bring in discontent for some, in which case you could get your hands on several other worthy options. The greatest likely comparison is Apple’s 12-inch MacBook ($1,299 and up), which has the weight of just two pounds featuring a 2,304-by-1,440, 226-pixel-per-inch screen. This machine too carries its sentiments.
The battery life has a longer lasting power, giving the potential user almost eight hours of video playback, but then the cost is a reduced performance. In addition to this, while the MacBook boasts certain advantages in some categories, like its touchpad whose use is more convenient; it a solid let down in other regards, like that deficiency of ports which I had earlier made mention of.
At the end thereof of this, there’s the Dell XPS 13 ($800-plus), which is one Windows laptop I hold in high regard for the year. The reason which happens to be singular why I didn’t talk about it sooner is the issue that it has a fixed screen, which some people most pledged to a convertible 2-in-1 design is a big disappointment too. But it is little concern whether it is fixed or not, I must say here that it has a very commendable display: The glass stretches on almost edge to edge, flanked by some very thin 5mm-thick bezels. That smart use of the screen real estate also has the implication that the XPS 13 boasts an increasingly compact footprint than other 13-inch laptops. I will also put in at this point that I find the build quality really impressive, I found joy in using the comfortable keyboard and bright screen; and the performance comes at a cool pace too. Here, too, the touchpad can be quite jumpy ( allow me describe it in that manner), and while the battery life could be deserving of compliments, it’s not best in class. If we don’t focus on these shortcomings, it is therefore worthy of its high rating.
One truth is I grew affection for the Toshiba Radius 12 more than I thought I would. When i had to combat loggerheads like the poor battery life results early in my testing process, it was without difficulty to arrive at the assumption that between that, the flat-looking keyboard, and Toshiba’s unimpressive track record in ultraportables — that the company had taken an added condemnable turn. In fact, the keyboard is more comfortable than the image the photos would paint to you, and while the runtime is noticeably short, the Radius 12 can still brag and contend about fast performance, a generous selection of ports as well one captivating display.
With the battery life being really short as it happens to be, it’s still impossible for me to give the Radius 12 my biggest recommendation, or say a sound buoyant recommendation at all. But Toshiba commendably fixed enough things right this time even if you come to make the choice of not buying the Radius 12 now, it’s still worth maintaining an attentive eye on. Most likably as chip technology gathers more improvement, Toshiba will gain the capacity to present a machine that’s just as light, and just as fast, with just as nice a screen, but that can last longer on a charge. Wouldn’t this blow your mind?