Toshiba just unveiled its back-to-school laptop lineup, and while mainstream notebooks are normally a bit of a snooze, there’s at least one detail that makes these worth a second look. Everything in the line, from the $395 entry-level model to the souped-up 4K editions, has a built-in keyboard button to launch Cortana in Windows 10. Just hit what appears to be a search key in the Function row, and you’ll bring up Microsoft’s voice assistant, which can respond to commands like “what’s the weather?”, “tell me a joke” and “sing a song”. (With all due respect to Cortana voice actress Jen Taylor, you might want to skip that last one.) Toshiba is not the only PC maker that’s chosen to add extra features related to Cortana, but the built-in hotkey is still pretty novel.
Other than that Cortana key, these new models are fairly unremarkable. Here’s a summary:
- The Satellite C series. Toshiba’s entry-level notebook comes in 15- and 17-inch sizes, with your choice of Intel or AMD processors. The design is dominated by what Toshiba calls “textured resin,” which is a fancy word for plastic. Specs include up to 8GB of RAM and up to a terabyte of storage (spinning hard drives only). There’s also a touchscreen option, if you’re willing to pay a bit more. Prices start at $395.
- The Satellite L series. This is Toshiba’s mainstream laptop, designed to hit a sweet spot between price and performance. Available in 15- and 17-inch sizes, it steps up to stronger AMD/Intel processors, along with options for faster 802.11ac, 16GB of RAM and a full HD display. For the money, you’ll also get a few extra amenities, including a backlit keyboard, Skullcandy audio, 4K HDMI output and a Sleep and Charge USB port. Prices start at $530 for the 15-inch version and $570 for the 17-incher.
- The Satellite S series. At this point, you can say goodbye to AMD processors; it’s Intel-only for the S series. Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend, you can get optional NVIDIA graphics, along with a Core i7 processor (dual- or quad-core), up to 16GB of RAM and either a 2TB hard drive or a dual HDD-plus-SSD setup. Though the S series starts with 1,600 x 900 resolution, it’s also offered in full HD and 4K. As you’d expect, you get all the same perks as on the L series, except this has a nicer aluminum design, and 802.11ac WiFi is standard. Prices start at $720 for the 15-inch model and $875 for the 17-inch.
- The Fusion series. Toshiba’s new “Fusion” series is kind of what it sounds like: a Yoga-like laptop with a 360-degree hinge that transforms into (excuse me: fuses into) tablet mode. This one’s offered with just a 15-inch screen (no 17-inch option), and the specs are higher-end than what we’ve seen on some of the other models. These include an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 12GB of RAM and a choice between either an HDD or a solid-state drive. It also includes many of the same features mentioned earlier: a Sleep and Charge port, 4K HDMI output, Skullcandy audio and a backlit keyboard. Prices start at $650.
- The Radius series. In terms of the form factor, the Radius is very much like the Fusion. Why’s it called the Radius, then? Because it’s exclusive to Best Buy, whereas the Fusion will be sold in various other retail stores. Toshiba already had an 11-inch Radius laptop, and today it’s adding fresh 14- and 15-inch versions as well. Though they have the same form factor, it’s clear the 15-inch model is the more premium machine, with a 4K screen option and nicer-looking aluminum enclosure (the 14-inch mixes a plastic chassis with a metal palm rest). Also, the 15-inch version is Intel-only, whereas the 14-incher can be configured with Intel or AMD. Prices start at $585 for the Radius 14 and $843 for the Radius 15.
With the exception of the S series and the 17-inch Satellite L, all of these will be available June 21st and will initially ship with Windows 8.1. Like all Windows 8 machines, they’ll be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 once the new OS comes out in July.
Toshiba Satellite C series (2015)
Toshiba Satellite L series (2015)
Toshiba Satellite S series (2015)
Toshiba Fusion series
Toshiba Radius series