(Review laptop Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 FHD) When we reviewed the 4K-screened version of Toshiba’s Satellite Radius 12 last fall, we noted that there was also a full HD (1,920×1,080) model available for $999, but said “that would be like going to a steakhouse and having the salad.”
Well, salad can be tasty and nutritious, especially if it’s had a price cut. Now selling for $799, the Satellite Radius 12 FHD may not offer on-screen details that pop like its 3,840×2,160-pixel sibling, but its 12.5-inch in-plane switching (IPS) panel is sharp and bright and its sixth-generation Core i5 processor provides plenty of pep. And with only a quarter as many pixels to light up, its battery life is significantly better than the 4K model’s, too.
If you’re looking for a compact convertible, the Radius FHD comes in $600 under Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga 12, a fifth-generation Core i5 hybrid, and $675 under the latter’s sixth-gen ThinkPad Yoga 260 successor (review coming soon). The ThinkPad Yogas have a few extra niceties, such as a “lift ‘n’ lock” keyboard whose keys fit flush with the keyboard deck rather than feeling awkward beneath your fingers in tablet mode, but the Satellite handles the flip-and-fold basics as well as any 2-in-1 we’ve tested.
Better yet, while 1080p resolution is a lot to squeeze into a 12.5-inch display, it makes for considerably less squinting at teeny-weeny text and icons than the 4K screen.
Like all convertibles (as opposed to detachables that drop their keyboards), the Toshiba is a tad heavy for comfortable one-handed holding in tablet mode, but it’s commendably light—2.9 pounds—as a laptop. It measures 11.8 by 8.2 by a slim 0.61 inches, with no wasted space (although its screen borders are thicker than the thin-bezel-champ Dell XPS 13).
The Radius’ repertoire will be familiar to anyone who’s used a Yoga, or a Yoga clone from HP, Dell, or Asus: Lift its handsome brushed aluminum lid, and you can keep opening or pivoting the screen all the way past laptop mode to a screen-facing-up, keyboard-facing-down tablet configuration, with easel-style stand (what Toshiba calls audience) and inverted-V tent (what Toshiba calls presentation) modes in between. The system also lies flat when opened 180 degrees (what Toshiba calls tabletop mode), so people on opposite sides of a desk can collaborate.
The keyboard deck is the same brushed aluminum as the lid, with Satellite and Harman/Kardon logos in the lower and upper right corners, respectively. The keys are black and brightly backlit. Above the display is a dim but not too grainy Webcam. The latter, while not one of Intel’s RealSense 3D cameras, features an infrared sensor for use with Windows 10’s Windows Hello, which lets you skip your password or PIN and log in simply by looking at the laptop.
The Radius offers an up-to-date array of ports, starting on the left side with a USB 3.1 Type-C port (used for data, not charging, as there’s a conventional connector for the small AC adapter). Looking at the left edge, you’ll also see a USB 3.0 port able to charge handheld devices, an HDMI port, and an audio jack.
On the system’s right side are the power button, another USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot, and a volume rocker and button to summon the operating system’s Cortana assistant when in tablet mode. In laptop mode, you can call up Cortana by pressing F1. Intel’s dual-band AC7265 chip provides 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.
The bottom-mounted speakers are inevitably muffled in tablet mode, but sound clean and strong in other modes—not rip-roaringly loud and without much bass, but able to fill a room with crisp vocals, guitar, and drums. We turned the volume up to 90 percent and rocked out to Joan Jett (yes, the proper way to play Joan Jett is at 100 percent, but the sound distorted a bit).
The other half of the Toshiba’s multimedia experience, the 12.5-inch display, is bright and sunny at its top two or three brightness levels, though it gets muddy as you dim the backlight to save battery power. Sacrifice some unplugged life, however, and you’ll see vivid colors, with clean white backgrounds and rich blacks.
The 1,920×1,080 screen shows details clearly, with broad viewing angles, and makes even small text and icons legible (the machine arrives with Win 10’s scaling set to 125 percent). It’s fine for editing images and watching videos as well as productivity work, though video editors will probably want the 4K version.
The keyboard layout profits from having both inverted-T cursor arrows and dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys, the latter four in ThinkPad style with Home and End on the top row and PgUp and PgDn near the right Shift key.
Except for a tiny Tab key, the keys are good-sized and well-spaced. Typing feel is firm and fairly shallow; some will like the stiff tactile feedback while others will wish for something softer. The rounded touch pad, like the touch screen, handles taps and swipes smoothly.
Toshiba backs the Satellite Radius 12 FHD with a two-year rather than one-year limited warranty, which is good, and preloads it with bloatware, which is bad—links, tiles, and icons for everything from eBay and Dropbox to Groupon and WildTangent games.