Toshiba: Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2013

Toshiba took quite a tumble in this year’s report, falling all the way from a tie for fourth place in 2012 to a basement-dwelling ninth place finish this time around. What’s to blame? We’d point to uninspiring design for many laptops, mediocre keyboards and a disappointing showing in our Tech Support Showdown. Toshiba does offer some compelling values for Windows 8 bargain hunters, but otherwise there’s heck of a lot of room for improvement. 

Reviews (9/20)

Last year, Toshiba introduced a number of innovative notebooks. Some systems impressed, such as the ultra-widescreen Satellite U845W, but others fell flat. In all, we reviewed 12 systems, one of which (the $599 Satellite P845-S4200) earned an Editors’ Choice award, and eight received ratings of 3.5 or 4 stars. Unfortunately, two of the brand’s notebooks, the U925t and the U845-S402, were awarded just 2.5 stars, which brought down the company’s overall score. 

More: 5 Best Toshiba Laptops

Design (8/15)

Ho-hum designs sunk Toshiba’s score in this category to the bottom of the list. While wafer-thin, the Portégé Z935-P300 was just a retread of last year’s Ultrabook with Windows 8 slapped on. And while the P845t-S4310 has a classy champagne color, its scaly chassis reminded us of a fish. Our favorite Toshiba design was the Satellite U845W, whose textured rubber not only looked cool but also made this Ultrabook easy to carry. The only drawback is that the ultra-wide body made this notebook a tight fit for smaller backpacks.

Keyboard and Touchpad (9/15)

We marked down Toshiba’s keyboards for slippery, squat keys that offered limited travel. The Satellite U845W-S430’s keyboard, in particular, caused us to make more typing errors than usual. The Satellite U925t allowed for speedy typing, but the slippery keys resulted in our fingers occasionally sliding off. While we generally liked the company’s touchpads, the Satellite U925t and Satellite P845t had difficulty recognizing user input at times. These ergonomic issues resulted in Toshiba losing two points in this category compared with last year.

Tech Support (8/15)

Adding a Twitter account was not enough to boost Toshiba’s tech support score this year. A new policy offers only 90 days of free support, instead of one year as you find with most brands. There’s no live chat or email assistance, and we failed to get a complete answer to our problem via Twitter. Meanwhile, Facebook support may as well not exist. Although phone calls were brief, they were also unhelpful. All of that added up to a second-to-last place finish here. 

More: Toshiba’s Tech Support Showdown results

Display and Audio (7/10)

Most of Toshiba’s screens failed to impress this year, with displays that offered mediocre viewing angles. There were a few outliers, such as the Satellite U845W, which had a bright display with vibrant and rich colors. The brand’s audio fared better, with several notebooks offering robust sound. A good example is the P845t, whose Harmon/Kardon speakers and SRS Premium Sound 3D software combined to offer powerful audio.

Value and Selection (8/10)

Of the Toshiba systems we reviewed in the past year, the Satellite P845-S4200 offered the most value, featuring a Core i5 processor and an aluminum design for $599. The Z935 ($835) also impressed because of its light weight and performance for the price. Consumers can take their pick of multiple notebooks at Toshibadirect.com, from budget Satellite systems starting as low as $329 with AMD dual-core CPUs to Qosmio gaming powerhouses starting at $1,099. Multiple brick-and-mortar sites for purchase include Best Buy and Walmart.

Innovation (4/10)

For a brand that’s best known for its cheap Black Friday specials, it’s hard to shake the image of being a maker of value boxes. But Toshiba certainly broke that mold with the Satellite U845W, the first notebook with a 21:9 ultra-widescreen. The Ultrabook not only makes watching movies more immersive (no more black bars), it also took multitasking to the next level with a Snap Screen utility that lets you snap windows to either side of the display. Toshiba’s first Windows 8 slider, the U925t, was less successful, with an awkward switching action and a cramped keyboard.

Software (3/5)

Toshiba is known for preloading its systems with a host of utilities. PC Health Monitor is a diagnostic service, while ReelTime provides quick access to recently opened files and websites. Eco Utility helps to conserve battery life and Bulletin Board encourages note-taking and allows you to paste images and bookmarks to a virtual bulletin board. Toshiba Book Place is a hub for e-books.

Best and Worst Notebook Brands 2013

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  1. jim bartie Says:

    my toshiba p755 provides little to no assistance for fixing their systems (unless you want to pay for something even before you know anything about it)…………….i have 3 other systems and the toshiba is down much more than the other three combined……………i am trying the safari system in order to be able to use my laptop……jim

  2. Sh0ck-Wave Says:

    Toshiba has definately lost the plot in the consumer market. Last year their ‘L8xx’ series were awesome value’d units with great specs that also ‘featured’ a terrible keyboard .. anoying, yes, but systems like the L840 02P were cracker all-rounders for the sub $1k market (especially is you dropped in an aftermarket SSD) so you could forgive the poor keyboards. But the current crop of ‘P’ series are woeful in build, design, and worst of all the keyboards and trackpads have gotten even worse .. so the overall system is simply something you don’t ‘want’ to have.
    That said, the business arm is quite the opposite as Tecra R8xx/R9xx are still the sound investment that Toshiba’s have always been. Kind of a shame your review didn’t mention the Tecra systems actually.

    From recent meetings I’ve had with Toshiba reps and managers it sounds like their admitting the consumer arm is dead and are putting all their effort into the business and premium angle. Kira and systems like the Z10t seem to be taking all their innovation resources, but this just means the consumer arm is going to stay with the same crappy problems as the innovation ‘bleed’ will be slow to trickle down.
    Overall Toshiba consumer laptops need to get back to basics .. good designs, good keyboards and good track-pads.
    I just don’t see them getting back up there in the consumer window for at least another year or two.

  3. ES Says:

    As a prior Toshiba Certified Tech, over the years, reimbursement
    for warranty work dropped to non-sustaining level. Parts ordered
    for Business units were delayed, often weeks at a time. Businesses
    ( including Oracle ) using Toshiba were disappointed, and switched
    to Dell. Consumers units were originally repaired within major
    cities, then switched to “send it to Central Repair Depot ” at first,
    for free, then later at end user cost. And often lengthy delays.
    No wonder it’s slipped way down in ratings. No one at Corporate
    would listen.

  4. Red-Bull Says:

    I’ve had a Toshiba laptop for a lot of years. They are not one of the best that I would recommend but they work pretty well.

  5. Jimmy Says:

    My first Toshiba laptop was the M45-S331 from 2006. The laptop was complete rubbish. It froze every 5 minute or so, even just opening applications. The harddrive went dead after a little usage. Had to swap out harddrive quite a few times. The internal components required some serious repair. I don’t think I would ever purchase another laptop made by Toshiba. Yes, it is cheap, but in the long run, the cost and energy to spend on the repairs is not worth it.

  6. CELINE N OKORO Says:

    my laptop goes off once its not on charge. I bought it from Staples in New York three weeks agao please advise

  7. CELINE N OKORO Says:

    my laptop goes off once its not on charge. I bought it from Staples in New York three weeks ago please advise

  8. Igbinovia norbert Says:

    I am really interested in having a lap top that can help me pursue my dream of being an IT analyst and aslo an electronic circuit designer,but i have financial challenge in acquiring one of such quality.could you please help me with one for free. I promise to promote your product here in nigeria.

  9. Luka F Says:

    First thing you have to know is that TOSHIBA Lap Tops are made in China….that is CHINA. I made mistake for ordering and not asking first. Secondly the Toshiba Direct will provide you with no support or very poor support. If your order is late (week or more)_ all they say is “I am sorry”. Bottom line is DONT buy China products and don’t buy TOSHIBA…I am rejecting mine as we speak.

  10. Susan Says:

    I bought the Toshiba L55t-A5290…had less than 6 months and screen cracked. Support said I don’t have warranty for that…HELLO …I have had laptops for years and never had a problem with the screen cracking. I don’t know if it was because it is a touchscreen or a flaw design (cracked by hinge) but unless they repair this screen I will never buy Toshiba again….it is not liked I dropped it …if you buy get a warranty…

  11. Shirley Strait Says:

    I own a Dell and it’s a piece of doggy doo. I bought it on Black Friday and one month later it was broken. I have called the company 20 times and they keep sending me to India. I have also complained to The Better Business Bueara and to no avail. If they were the last manufacturer on earth I would never buy a Dell again. They have replaces a key on the keyboard because it just fell off and the computer wasn’t even a year old. They also had to replace the hard drive and it’s going on the fritz again. Dell won’t help or extend my warranty and it has been down more that it has worked. I am so mad I could spit nails and will never buy a Dell again. I’ve had my Toshiba for 15 years and it’s still running like a champ. So I’ve had a good experience with Toshiba but my Dell can go take a hike.

  12. SonicKnuckles1998 Says:

    In 2011, I got a Toshiba Satellite C655 for Christmas. I liked it so much since Windows 7 was so cool! Unfortunately, I would always get adware on it, it would BlueScreen, and one time it would stop responding after 30 seconds! It broke in October of 2013, so I got a Toshiba Satellite C55t-A. I didn’t like it as much as the C655 since it had Windows 8 instead of Windows 7. A few months later, I obtained a flash drive which restores Toshiba Satellite C655s to factory settings, so I plugged it in and fixed it. After having 2 computers for 4 months, it broke AGAIN! This time, it was completely broken unless if I spend an arm and a leg trying to fix it again. Meanwhile, my C55t-A was doing terrible. It wouldn’t charge up to 100% and it stopped using sound one time. I totally wish I could get an ASUS with Windows 7.

  13. george fulk Says:

    I bought a Toshiba lap top from Toshiba direct and the battery would not recharge. Once the battery was drained, the computer was dead and I had to send it back. I had spent 8 hrs downloading stuff on to it. It took me 6 phone calls to find out it had to be returned. My advice: don’t buy from Toshiba direct.

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