Toshiba Satellite U940 Ultrabook Review

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews, Spotlight, Ultrabooks

Toshiba has been making some pretty slick ultrabooks since the format was introduced a year and a half back. They also like to dabble in some unorthodox designs, their recent ultra-widescreen Satellite U840W ultrabook being a good example. Today, though, I’ll be looking at the Toshiba Satellite U940 ultrabook which promises to bring some decently high-end hardware (by ultrabook standards) in a very reasonably priced package.

Build

On the outside our U940 ultrabook came in a nice silver blue plastic body that was pretty thin, 1.8cm to be precise, although it does taper off from the front and the rear. There is one USB 2.0 port on the left, two USB 3.0 on the right along with a LAN port, and HDMI port, and card reader and 3.55 audio jacks as well as the power plug. On the back we have an easily accessible panel to upgrade the hard drive and RAM.

Open inside and we have a 14-inch glossy screen, a very nicely laid out backlit keyboard that works like a charm, however the clicky plastic mousepad leaves a lot to be desired. Of all the things in the Toshiba Satellite U940, the mousepad is the weakest link. Sure, the plastic body doesn’t feel as sharp or tight as other high0end ultrabooks, especially those which are made from aluminum, but it’s decently sturdy.

Specs

Inside the U940 packs a low-voltage dual-core Intel Core i5-3317U @ 1.70GHz, with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive with 16GB mSATA SSD for cache and most importantly an Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card with 2GB dedicated RAM.  I’m told that in the new 2013 models hitting store shelves soon, the RAM is bumped to 6GB along with a 750GB HDD and 32GB SSD for cache.

Just on paper, the Toshiba U940 represents one of the best value ultrabooks in the market right now. Nothing comes close to giving you these specs in this form factor plus a backlit keyboard and a dedicated graphics card.

However, let’s see if the Toshiba Satellite U940 holds up against our benchmarks.

Benchmarks

For comparison we have the Samsung Series 5 ultrabook with the AMD A6-4455M dual-core CPU @ 2.1GHz and HD 7500G graphics card, while the ASUS Vivobook has an Intel Core i3-3217U CPU @ 1.8GHz and integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU. All ultrabooks cost roughly the same.

Gaming benchmarks are done at 1366×768 with Low preset for Battlefield 3 and Low settings for Guild Wars 2.

As you can see, the Toshiba Satellite U940 comes off as a decent all rounder thanks to the Core i5 processor and SSD cached hard drive. When it comes to games, the GT 630M does a very decent job on the perfectly mated 1366 x 768 resolution. For most current PC games that are still ported from consoles, the GT 630M should be able to handle medium settings with ease.

Heat & Noise

 

During normal operations there’s a slight whirring sound from the U940’s fans, going to full speed when playing games. The sound isn’t annoying, but if you can imagine a hair dryer being blown into a cushion, you’ll get the idea. It does get borderline uncomfortable to play games on the lap, but the top surface and palmrest area remains fairly cool.

Conclusion

There’s very little to fault with the Toshiba Satellite U940, because for its price, it does a lot of things right. If you’re in the market for a semi0gaming ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U940 should be at the top of your list.

Next-gen iPhone components reportedly leaked (yawn)

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Do you own an iPhone 5? Do you love cradling it in your hands as you bask in the envy of all your friends?

Well enjoy the feeling while it lasts, because it’s time for the iPhone rumor-mill to start cranking out leaks for the new iPhone. Two new photos posted today by French blog nowhereelse.fr claims that Apple is already looking at the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6. The photos are of speaker components, and when compared to the current iPhone 5 appear to have changed slightly, indicating that Apple is already looking at revised models of their iPhone.

Several analysts have predicted that Apple will launch a cheaper, no-contract iPhone this year, retailing between $350-$450.

(via nowhereelse.fr)

Let NVIDIA optimize your games for you

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under News

NVIDIA has announced that it’s PC gaming optimization tool, GeForce Experience, is now available to public as an open beta.

The GeForce Experience uses hardware detection and a cloud database to find and set ‘ideal’ performance setting for your games. The software supports a total of 41 games, with the latest release adding support for FarCry 3, Mechwarrior Online, and Hawken. NVIDIA says it will continue adding more games with new releases.

The open beta also expands the range of hardware supported by the app, including Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, as well as settings for 2560×1440 resolution.

In my short stay with the app, the GeForce Experience clearly feels and looks a beta app. It detected two games that were not even installed, and it would not give me the option to optimize my game despite running it multiple times and manually trying to detect it from the app.

Still, we are hoping NVIDIA will iron these issues out, we reckon the GeForce Experience is a great app that takes away some of the manual labor of receiving proper performance from users who may not be well-versed with the technicality. Only if SSAO would be called ‘prettier shadows’.

Twitter launches advertising services in MENA region

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Twitter Inc yesterday officially launched their partnership with Egypt-based agency Connect Ads to bring advertising opportunities to the MENA region. Under the partnership, Connect Ads will manage all Egypt, UAE, KSA, and Kuwait sales, as well as assisting Twitter with its suite of Promoted Products.

“MENA is one of Twitter’s fastest-growing regions, and we are seeing significant interest from marketers there who want to use our Promoted Products to build their businesses and connect with consumers,” said Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president of international revenue. “Working with Connect Ads gives Twitter a strong partner with a footprint throughout the region and proven digital capabilities enabling us to scale and educate the markets as we introduce Twitter’s Promoted Products. This is the next step in expanding Twitter’s international presence, building on top of our recent launch in Latin America earlier this year.”

“Together, we will offer advertisers new and relevant opportunities to engage the MENA region audiences and drive value for brands and consumers. The growth of social media in the MENA region is among the highest in the world, and Twitter is one of the most recognized and utilized platforms in our region,” said Mohamed El Mehairy, managing director of Connect Ads. “We are excited to be Twitter’s sales representatives and to consolidate our partnership through bringing our experience in introducing digital companies in the MENA market to our new partner.”

The event was held at Atlantis The Palm, in Dubai and was covered by the hashtag #TwitterMENA but scrolling through the tag reveals the most popular tweets to be revelations such as “Number of active Twitter users in the Middle East has tripled in the last year” and how cute the Twitter logo looked carved into a watermelon.

Toshiba Satellite U940 Ultrabook

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

Designed for everyday productivity and entertainment, the Satellite U940 Ultrabook is a sleek alternative to your average laptop, delivering an ideal mix of portability, features and performance for less than you’d expect to pay for an Ultrabook.

Get the most from the Windows 8 experience and your software applications with a solid 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 processor, and enjoy excellent speed and storage with a SATA hard drive paired with SSD cache. Enjoy stereo speakers bolstered by SRS Premium Sound 3D technology. Then add in the long battery life rating, and you’ll have all the power you need for exciting entertainment and everyday productivity.

Check out our review to see what makes the Toshiba Satellite U940 such an amazing ultrabook.

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