Toshiba’s new Satellite Radius “2-in-1″ convertible laptop may not revolutionize the category, but if you’re looking for a large-screen laptop that can convert to a full slate, you could do worse than the Radius P55W-B5224, provided you don’t need bleeding-edge performance.
At first blush the Radius looks like any other widescreen 15.6-inch laptop, complete with spacious trackpad and an island-style keyboard. There’s even a numeric keypad, though the compressed keys make it a little difficult to use for rapid-fire input. The spacious screen features 10-point touchability, and as you push it back you find it rotates a full 360 degrees around. This lets you use the laptop in presentation mode (aka “the inverted V”) or as a slate, with the keyboard face down on the underside of the device. If you’ve seen the Lenovo Yoga, you get the picture here—except the Radius has a considerably bigger display.
The jury remains out on whether people enjoy using a tablet like this, and the oversized screen presents more of a challenge than you might expect. At 4.8 pounds the Radius far outweighs standard tablet devices, and setting your device with the keyboard face down on the table (or your crotch) feels disconcerting and seems as if it will eventually damage the thing. That said, while the P55W’s sheer size makes it a bit awkward to hold as a slate, it’s actually comparably light and, at 21mm thick, quite slim, too. Largely composed of brushed aluminum, it features slim plastic bumpers around the edges that should help with some of the natural jostling a convertible like this is going to be subjected to.
In regular use, the P55W works without complaint. The keyboard, touchpad, and touchscreen are all accurate and responsive, and the audio quality is crisp and loud, courtesy of Harman/Kardon speakers. On the other hand, the screen, at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, is quite dim, and its generally slow graphics don’t do it any additional favors. In fact, on the whole the P55W underperforms for its specs. Despite a relatively high-end 2.6GHz Core i7 and 8GB of RAM, the laptop pulled benchmark scores that weren’t much better than what you see on Atom-based tablets. You can chalk some of this up to a slow 1TB hard disk, but whatever the cause, the lagginess is noticeable even when you aren’t pushing the system through a tough battery of benchmarks.
The P55W offers a trio of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an SD card reader, all about par for the tablet category. However, battery life that stretches beyond 6.5 hours is virtually unheard of for a laptop with a screen of this size, and considering Toshiba has managed to keep the weight under five pounds, that’s a real testament to some fine power engineering. Unfortunately the relatively low weight and long battery life come at the expense of power, which might be a dealbreaker if you’re trying to use this for something besides showing off while you’re mainlining Netflix.