Toshiba U840 Ultrabook Review

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We recently took Toshiba’s high-end Z830 Ultrabook out for a spin and have come away impressed with the performance and overall form factor. It's one of the few Ultrabooks to give us really good battery life, which was a huge bonus. We have a slightly more ‘budget-friendly’ version of the notebook called the U840 here, featuring Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge. Let’s see if it can manage to outperform the existing Sandy Bridge-based Ultrabooks.

Design and Build
The U840 is not as slim or light as its higher-end brethren but manages to be portable enough. The tapering edges give it a wedge-like design and at 1.5 kg, it's not terribly uncomfortable to carry around in your backpack. The U840 uses a mix of aluminium and plastic for the chassis, which gives it a very good build; in fact, we like it a lot better than the Z830, which felt a bit too flimsy. There is also much lesser flex in the lid and rest of the body, which is good.

Stylish looker

Stylish looks


We have a good set of connectors: HDMI, USB 3.0 (x1) and USB 2.0 (x2), microphone and headphone jack, SD card reader and a LAN jack as well. The status lights are placed up front so you can’t really miss them. The lid has the ability to fold all the way back to about 170 degrees so you can adjust it as you want.

HDMI and USB 3.0 onboard

HDMI and USB 3.0 onboard


The chiclet keyboard is backlit so you can work even in low-light conditions. The letters on the keys are backlit very well too, but the issue here is with the keys themselves - they are simply terrible. The tactile feedback is pretty poor and typing doesn’t really give you as much assurance as it should. It also seems like the plastic mould holding the keys is prone to damage as the unit we received  had a ‘V’ key that was damaged. The trackpad is fairly wide and works well, but the mouse buttons are terribly hard to press. Also, if you’re charging the notebook, the trackpad stops responding due to the electricity which manages to travel through the entire aluminium body. This could be a unit fault or a design flaw, so you might want to check this part out before buying. Overall, the U840 has a very stylish and modern design and is built quite well too. However, the poor keyboard and trackpad issues could be deal breakers.

Under the hood, the U840 has been refreshed with Intel’s Ivy Bridge. The CPU is a Core i5-3317U running at 1.7 GHz, but with a Turbo frequency of 2.6GHz. While the core speed may seem a bit low, it actually packs quite some punch as we’ll see in the benchmarks. You get a single 4GB RAM stick with one free slot so you can expand it to 8GB. For storage, we have a 500 GB primary hard drive and a 32 GB SSD for caching. The 14-inch LED backlit screen is adequately bright and at 1366 x 768, it’s not very sharp but is enough for this size. The U840 doesn’t come with a discrete card but the new onboard HD 4000 Intel graphics is plenty for HD video decoding and casual gaming.

Keyboard could have been a lot better

Keyboard could have been a lot better


Toshiba includes a bunch of software for managing battery life and taking a backup of your data. They’ve also pre-configured an Eco mode which scales down the CPU speed and other resources that may use up the battery in case you’re travelling. 
Throughout the tests, the U840 trails behind Toshiba’s Z830, which has a same speed Sandy Bridge CPU. In Cinebench R11.5, the GPU performance is clearly better than the previous HD 3000 graphics. It also fares a bit better in video encoding as well. Overall, Ivy Bridge doesn’t really make a significant impact in Ultrabooks as far as raw CPU performance is concerned. The graphics department, on the other hand, has received a good boost. 

Not a huge performance jump over Sandy Bridge

Not a huge performance jump over Sandy Bridge


The U840 is very comfortable to use on your lap even for long hours of usage. It doesn't get terribly hot, just warm near the vents area. The speakers are surprisingly loud as well. The sound is not very full or warm but it can easily fill up a small room. The keyboard remains a bit of a concern. While the backlighting works fine, the keys themselves don’t have very good feedback. The trackpad is also not the best we’ve seen as the mouse buttons are terribly uncomfortable. And then there’s the issue where you can’t use the trackpad while charging.

Even backlighting throughout the keys

Even backlighting throughout the keys


Battery Life
In Battery Eater Pro, we managed to get a really good battery life of 2 hours and 40 minutes, which easily translates to a good six to seven hours of real world usage. The smaller 22 nm fabrication really helps in this case.

Verdict and Price in India
The Toshiba U840 is priced Rs. 53,500, which makes it quite an expensive purchase. If it were somewhere close to 40K, then I could have recommended it, but we have the issue with the keyboard and trackpad which is a big let down. The U840 had the potential to be a very good candidate for an Ultrabook but the high price and a few issues in critical areas together prove to be a damper. I’d say, give this one a miss.


Finally, something to scream about for people who\'re passionate about compactness, portability and multimedia capability. An outstanding yet affordable multimedia tool backed by Toshiba\'s leading-edge technology; the new Satellite U840 notebook for your everyday use is here to steal your heart! 10X speed USB 3.0 communication between your laptop and external devices will be smoother than ever.USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The Satellite U840 comes with 6 cell Lithium-Polymer battery that helps you accomplish your important task even while on battery. With Toshiba\'s expertise, you can rest assured of an unparalled computing experience. The in-built SRS premium audio experience is the combination of superior sound and power-packed perfromance.Get an outstanding entertainment experience in Toshiba Laptops featuring SRS Premium Sound 3D which delivers immersive surround sound, deep bass and enhanced definition all in a stylish, easy to use device. The Satellite U840 comes with exquisitely stylish exterior crafted from aluminium & reinforced glass fibre chassis Take your HD experience to another level with Toshiba 1080p resolution. It is the easiest way ever to charge your smart phone, MP3 player or other portable electronics, even when your laptop is turned off.

Processor Description

Processor Intel ULV Core i5-3317U
Speed 1.7 GHz
Cache 3MB
Turboboost Yes
Turboboost Speed 2.6 GHz


Type DDR3
Speed 1600 MHz
Expandable upto 8GB
Memory Slots 2

Hard Drive

Inbuilt HDD 500GB
Speed (RPM) 5400
Format 2.5 inch

Display Features

Screen Size 14 inches
Maximum Display Resolution 1366 x 768
Panel Type LED Backlit Display


Chipset Model Intel HM77 Express Chipset
GPU Model Intel HD Graphics
HDMI Port Yes


Ethernet Port (Nos) 1
Ethernet Type 10/100 Mbps
WiFi Type 802.11 b/g/n


Audio Solution High Definition Audio
Speakers Yes
Sound Technologies SRS Premium Sound 3D


USB 2.0 ports 2
USB 3.0 ports 1
Bluetooth V4.0
Built-in Camera Yes
Microphone Yes
Digital Media Reader Yes


Battery (Type) Li-Ion
Battery Life 7 Hrs
Battery Cell 6 Cell

Operating System

OS Windows 7
Version Home Premium 64-bit


Dimensions (W x D x H) 340 x 232 x 32.5 mm
Weight 1.59

Misc Bundled Software

Other Features Ultra Silver with Hair line Pattern|#|User/Supervisor Password|#|HDD Password|#|Kensington Lock Slot|#|Toshiba Face Recognition

After Sales Service

Warranty Period 1 Year


Warranty Period 1 Year

Published Date: Jul 13, 2012 01:10 pm | Updated Date: Jul 13, 2012 01:10 pm