Toshiba hasn’t all the time made the perfect laptops. The firm is probably recognized for the type of bargain-basement machines you will discover at big-box shops like Best Buy, and when it has dabbled in flagship techniques, its efforts have typically fallen short. The Radius 12could possibly be totally different, although. It ticks off virtually all the correct packing containers, with a 4K, Technicolor-certified display choice and a 2.9-pound design — notably spectacular for a convertible like this with a 360-degree hinge. And although the entry-level $1,000 mannequin makes do with a lower-res, lower-tech display, even that configuration gives some spectacular specs for the cash. All good issues, and but, I can not advocate it — not now, anyway.
The Radius 12 is a halo product, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it at first glance, with the machine powered down. Though the lid is fashioned out of faintly brushed metal, the smooth, plasticky surfaces throughout make the device feel less than premium.
Then you pick it up. The machine is so light that it nearly excuses the drab design. (I say “nearly” because there are, in fact, machines like the 12-inch MacBook that weigh even less and manage to feel more luxurious in-hand.) And while it might not be much to look at, it’s well-built underneath its ho-hum surface; the screen doesn’t wobble when touched, and the palm rest doesn’t flex when you grip it between your fingers.
On a practical level, too, the chassis is home to a useful selection of ports, including a full-sized HDMI socket, two USB 3.0 connections, a smaller USB Type-C port, a full-sized SD card reader, a headphone jack and a volume rocker for when the device is in tablet mode. Compare that to the MacBook, which makes do with one measly USB Type-C connection, and doesn’t even come with a dongle in the box.
So far in our tour we haven’t yet powered on the Radius 12, but now would be a good time: The optional 4K display is likely the reason you’re considering buying this in the first place. The glass stretches virtually from edge to edge, with the skinniest of bezels acting as a nominal buffer between the display and the rest of the machine. I remain unconvinced that 3,840 x 2,160 resolution is necessary on a display this small — a slightly lower pixel count would still look sharp and would be less devastating on battery life, and there’s not yet much 4K content to watch anyway. Even so, there’s no question that the pixel density helps make the screen as gorgeous as it is.
Just as essential, maybe (or extra so): The 4K model of the show (not the entry-level 1080p one) is Technicolor-certified, which suggests if you boot up the Radius 12 for the primary time, you will be hit not simply with tremendous crisp pictures, however vibrant, saturated colours. It jogs my memory of how I felt years in the past once I examined the primary telephones and tablets with Super AMOLED screens: The Radius 12’s panel is beautiful in a method that the majority different laptops have not but come near matching. Fortunately, although, color-accurate screens are becoming more common, and maybe at some point we’ll even start to take them as a right.
The audio does not disappoint both. For the Radius 12, Toshiba went with Harman Kardon, which it solely does on its highest-end machines; for every thing else, it makes use of Skullcandy’s tech, which does not sound nearly as good. In this case, the sound comes out of a speaker on the bottom of the hinge, which suggests you need to get unobstructed sound whatever the mode you occur to be utilizing the laptop computer in. Aside from the truth that the audio system aren’t muffl
ed on the underside, the audio is balanced and the quantity loud; I not often needed to pump it previous the midway mark when alone in my condo.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Radius 12’s keyboard is more comfortable than it looks. With a flat profile, and a handful of undersized buttons, including the Caps Lock, Ctrl, Shift and arrow keys, it’d be easy to write off as poorly designed. Somehow, though, I enjoyed typing on it in spite of myself. In fact, this thousands-of-words-long review you’re reading was composed on the Radius 12. Even with the shrunken-down buttons, I rarely hit the wrong one when touch-typing, which isn’t always the case — the Lenovo Yoga 900 also has a few undersized keys, and the typing experience was at times so frustrating that I implored the company to reconsider the design on next year’s model.
I also found that although the Radius 12’s keyboard is flat, it feels sturdy; no matter how fast or vigorously I typed, the keys bounced right back. Whereas on other machines I might have to mash the buttons to make sure my presses register, that wasn’t a problem here. I appreciate too how relatively quiet it is. The backlighting came in handy as well, though that’s of course standard fare on notebooks in this price range.
If only I liked the touchpad as much. (What is it with this resurgence of bad laptop trackpads, by the way? I feel like I’ve hated every one I’ve tested in recent months.) The cursor doesn’t always go where I want, and I found myself accidentally rearranging my pinned browser tabs (ugh!) many, many times. Even single-finger tapping frequently went awry: I’d try to hit send on an email or select messages to delete, and my tap wouldn’t register. Two-finger scrolling can also be choppy.
It got to the point where I used my fingers to scroll when possible, and even used my finger where I really wasn’t meant to — things like the small “select” boxes in Gmail. Interfaces like that may have been designed primarily for a mouse, but ultimately, I found that my own digits were usually the more accurate input tool.
It would be inaccurate to say that Toshiba didn’t cut corners — it clearly made some tradeoffs here — but when it comes to certain key specs, like display quality and internals, the company clearly wasn’t messing around. The configuration I tested (valued at $1,300) makes use of a 2.5GHz dual-core Core i7-6500U CPU, along with 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD 520 graphics and a 512GB solid-state drive.
And it’s just as fast as you’d expect it to be. The machine boots into the desktop in just eight seconds, while the SSD (made by Toshiba itself), reaches peak read speeds of 552 MB/s and top writes of 489 megabytes per second. While those read speeds are typical for a flagship laptop, the write rates are exceptional: Other machines can achieve little more than half those speeds. Need benchmarks? I’ve put some scores in the table above. As you can see, the Radius 12 delivers numbers that are just as good if not slightly better than similarly specced machines, like the Yoga 900.