Introduction and design
They say great things come in small packages, and looking at the Satellite Click Mini we’d have to agree. Toshiba is genuinely breaking new ground with this micro laptop/touchpad hybrid. It boasts a detachable full-HD, 1920 x 1200 pixel-resolution touchscreen tablet, two batteries, Windows 8.1 and more for £250 (around $390, or AU$520) and we found it available online for even lower. It doesn’t seem to be on sale in the US currently.
Firmly pitted up against the smaller Chromebooks, this thing is tiny and has all the advantages that a full Windows system can bring, such as Microsoft Office 365 (a year-long free subscription is included) and other software. This isn’t just an internet browsing machine, it’s a fully fledged touchscreen laptop, just shrunk… a lot.
Its nearest competitors are the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 priced at $700 (around £437, or AU$800), theTransformer Book T100 Chi at $604 (around £399, or AU$774) and even the Surface 3 at $499 (£377, or AU$640) are all far more expensive and in some cases require an additional outlay for the external keyboard. With the Satellite you get everything in one compact and bargain package.
Of course, the iPad still rules the tablet roost, but this is far more than just a tablet. It also undercuts both the iPad and Surface by a hefty margin. This is a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid with all the bells and whistles of a laptop but with a detachable keyboard and battery pack. It’s also silent due to the SSD storage and fanless design.
Boasting a quad-core Intel Atom processor clocking in at 1.33GHz and 2GB of RAM, at no point did it feel sluggish. It’s comparable with the Asus Transformer T100 which is showing its age, but they share the same processor. In this machine the technology has been shrunk, plus it’s sturdier and better built.
The Satellite chassis is entirely plastic, but it does feel solid, almost chunky. It’s quite weighty with the keyboard attached due to the dual battery layout, with one nestled in the screen unit and the other housed under the detachable keyboard.
The screen gets noticeably warm on the left side when in use or charging which can be a bit off putting in tablet mode. The tablet is reasonably thick, with an iPad-style fat bezel around it – not very pretty but it does the job.
On the tablet there’s a microUSB connector which doubles as a charging port, much like in an Android phone. In our tests it didn’t like all chargers, claiming they were malfunctioning USB accessories so it’s probably best to stick with the one supplied. This Toshiba offering has two memory card slots, a microSD in the tablet and a standard SD slot in the base. The base also hosts a full sized USB 2.0 port – USB 3.0 would have been useful, but we’re assuming this decision was made on budget constraints.
The screen features a speaker on each side, and these are not particularly loud but they’re fine for watching films at home or in quieter environments. When plugged into an external speaker, an EU warning popped up reminding us to turn down the sound. This was annoying at first but can be fixed by installing another generic audio driver.
The keyboard attaches and detaches very easily via a push button in the centre. The screen slots into two metal teeth at either side and a connector. It’s stable and there isn’t much give in the joint when moving the screen back and forth.
When charging it’ll charge the screen battery first, then the base battery afterwards – it doesn’t charge both at the same time. Charging the base separately while taking out the tablet to be used would have been a handy feature. There also isn’t a charging LED which one would expect on a tablet or phone, certainly on one that appears to be quite fussy over chargers.
The hinge means that the screen doesn’t tilt back as far as we’d like. The shallow angle could mean that it’s often easier just to detach the screen, but that means you lose the keyboard functionality as there is no wireless link between the two units.
The rear hinge sticks out a little too far when the keyboard is attached. When on a lap it can dig in after a long period of use. There has also been criticism of the keyboard bending slightly in the centre. It does bend a little, but not to any extent which affects the usage of the machine.
The keyboard itself is solidly built and the keys are a comfortable size. However, in order to fit the smaller form factor, compromises have been made, notably with the position of the keys. The E and 3 keys are usually slightly offset on a traditional keyboard, but here they’re directly inline meaning you’ll often hit the wrong button – not so good if you type in a lot of numbers.
The function keys are set on the A-H and Z-M keys and are activated when you push one of these keys with the FN button. It’s not too much of an ordeal, but if the software you use regularly needs function keys, this may sway your decision against this model.
Specifications and performance
There are only two choices of model, one in Pearl White and the other in Satin Gold (read Silver). There are no options to upgrade any of the components currently, what you see is what you get. It makes ordering incredibly simple, as there’s no messing with alternative configurations and a fixed price point.
In laptop mode, the weight of the batteries doesn’t go unnoticed. It clocks in at just over 2 pounds and is rear heavy. The Satellite won’t tip over thanks to the second battery in the base, but it’s heavier than it looks.
Here is the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini spec sheet as provided to TechRadar:
CPU: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F with Burst Technology 2.0
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
Screen: 8.9-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD, 16:10 aspect ratio, 10 points multi-touch screen
Storage: 32GB eMMC Flash Memory
Ports: Headphone/Mic combo socket, microHDMI-out, micro-USB 2.0, USB 2.0, SD card slot with UHS-I, microSD card slot with UHS-I
Connectivity: Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n (up to 150 Mbps)
Camera: 5 MP Full HD rear camera with auto focus (back) and 2 MP Full HD web camera (front)
Weight: Tablet 1.04 pounds (472g); Tablet with keyboard 2.16 pounds (978g)
Size: Tablet 9.25 x 0.385 x 6.34-inches (235 x 161 x 9.8mm) (W x D x H); Tablet with keyboard 9.25 x 6.72 x 0.78-inches (235 x 170.6 x 19.9mm)
Special Features: 3D Acceleration sensor, Compass
Performance and features
For everyday tasks the machine is more than capable. Browsing the web and doing light photo editing is all possible, and it’ll run Microsoft Office 365 with ease. Performance wise, the machine generally held up, though while watching YouTube videos with several tabs open, the sound would occasionally chug. There’s a small form HDMI socket conveniently set in the tablet section which can be used to output to a projector to watch films or put on a presentation.
With Windows and the quad-core Intel Atom under the hood you can run older programs and less graphically demanding games with some ease. The bundled Toshiba Display Utility software shrinks the font and icons much more efficiently than anything built into Windows. It’s great for making the screen appear larger because you’re able to fit more things onto it – although at the highest level, it becomes difficult to decipher text. This mode is more suited to an external display or projector.
Here’s how the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Cloud Gate: 1145; Sky Diver 452; Fire Strike: Crashed
Cinebench CPU: Will not run in 32-bit mode
PCMark 8 Home Test: (in Conventional mode) 1004 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: (in Conventional mode with both batteries) 7 hours and 34 minutes
This isn’t a gaming computer by any means, in fact Fire Strike in 3DMark crashed so there are no results from that test. Cinebench refused to run as the operating system is 32-bit, so there are only results from PCMark.
The battery bench came in at an impressive 7 hours and 34 minutes – Windows will use the base battery up first and then use power from the tablet battery afterwards to ensure maximum runtime in either mode. It doesn’t clock in at the purported 12 hours, but it’s certainly powerful and built to last long journeys. It’s not got the longevity of an iPad Air as Windows drains more power when sleeping than iOS.
Cloud Gate got a quite low score of 1145, and this machine doesn’t beat the Chi or even the similarly built Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, but it’s perfectly serviceable in everyday tasks. The lack of performance is reflected in the price.
Occasionally the machine would drop off the network to a limited connection, meaning the internet wasn’t working at all. This was most likely an issue with the Toshiba machine as this network has never had an issue before. Often the machine had to be disconnected and reconnected to the network. Not a major issue, but annoying when downloading or even just browsing the web. The problem died down a little after a particularly lengthy list of Windows updates.
There’s a distinct lack of bloatware bundled on the machine, unlike Asus which throws everything onto a new hard disk. It could be because of the relatively limited capacity of the installed SSD (32GB), or maybe Toshiba has realised that a lot of people will uninstall the junk as soon as they get a new machine. Here is the software you’ll get on board:
Microsoft Office 365 Personal with a year’s free subscription – worth $69.99 (or £59.99, AU$89.99)
Toshiba Display Utility – This gives the illusion/feel of increased screen size by shrinking certain items on screen. Very handy
Symbaloo – A cloud-based set of shortcuts
At a price point lower than the slightly disappointing iPad Mini 3 (£260, $335 or AU$499) and Dell Venue 11 Pro (£288, $385 or AU$589) this Atom powered micro-laptop is a surprising and welcome addition to the scene. It’ll be interesting to see if Asus and Dell try to undercut this price and size in future laptops.
The keyboard is a little cramped, but the high resolution screen is a steal at this budget. An option to charge the base separately would have been good but it’s not a deal breaker. Battery life is good, but not as lengthy as Toshiba claims.
Physically it’s a pretty little thing. It can be popped into a handbag, meaning you don’t need a huge backpack to take a Windows PC around with you. The full HD touchscreen is impressive for the price – value for money is probably the greatest thing about this machine.
The keyboard is fully functional and feels relatively sturdy if a little awkward to use on occasion. The tablet option is handy, and the ability to use the touchscreen whenever adds flexibility.
The build quality is impressive for the price tag. And the price makes it an ideal convertible for students who need a note-taking machine or frequent travellers. It you need something that’s an upgrade from a traditional tablet with a tempting price tag then this could be the companion you’re looking for.
It’s not for everyone, don’t expect to DJ and edit complex Adobe Illustrator images on here – but you can easily rustle up a PowerPoint presentation, browse the web or compose an essay.
The placement of the keys is a bit off, and it’ll take some getting used to. This is not a machine you can write a thesis on, but it’s more capable than a standard tablet for writing on.
It would be brilliant if the detachable base could be charged separately. As it is, you can only charge it once the main tablet is fully charged. The screen itself is high resolution but the colours are a little washed out and there’s a mottled look to it. But again, for the price we can’t complain too much.
Toshiba has created an incredible value full HD laptop that doubles as a tablet. It’s perfect for frequent travellers, students taking notes in lectures, workers in meetings and people on a budget.
This machine is well built, runs smoothly and fast, and while it’s not as impressive as say an iPad Air battery-wise, it still holds up, lasting longer than a traditional laptop and over an hour longer in our benchmarks than a Yoga Tablet 2.
Storage is limited to 32GB, but with the two memory card slots this can be expanded somewhat. And given that power-wise it’s not capable of editing large images or videos, it’s unlikely you’ll feel the squeeze of storage constrictions too keenly.
This is a very capable machine which would be a great companion to a desktop or laptop. It’s portable, sleek and well-made. The keyboard is a little clunky, but usable. Toshiba is on a winning trajectory with the Satellite Click Mini.