The system’s OS downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 Pro is a plus for dedicated gamers, particularly those with older games. Its Core i5 processor isn’t the newest, but balances well with the memory and SSD setup.
The downside of the OS is that upgrading this computer further may be difficult.
Features the older Windows 7 OS which is appealing to those who aren't fond of Windows 10. Reasonably responsive Core i5 processor. Price is at least several hundreds less than many other options by Toshiba.
Upgrades may be difficult. With 4GB, it has less limited onboard storage capacity.
Outstanding battery life for a high-performance laptop, pushing past eight hours. Thin and light as a feather. Super-fast performance thanks to 8 GB of RAM and a dual-core i7 processor. Includes a VGA port, which is rare for an ultra-portable laptop. Very durable, making it great for business travel.
Screen resolution is too low for this price point. Keyboard performance is sub-par, with a small size that leads to some clunkiness. Trackpad isn’t very accurate and can be frustrating to use (but can be switched off quickly).
Made for the use in business, thanks to the feature set that includes the fast Core i7 processor, 8GB storage, and rugged construction. Long battery life is also a plus for doing work on the go.
Design is bulkier and heavier than top business models in the Portege series.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
It can be hard to stand out in the laptop market – sometimes it feels like every manufacturer has a decent Windows or Chrome OS notebook computer for less than $1,000, and it’s easy to think they’re all more or less the same. To differentiate themselves from the rest of the herd, laptop manufacturer Toshiba has focused on two things: including hardware you won’t find on other machines, and low prices. It’s a pretty compelling value proposition – so long as you steer clear of the models where they’ve cut too many corners.
Toshiba sold its personal computer division to Sharp, which phased out the brand name. Their technology now sells under the Dynabook moniker.
Read on for our take on Toshiba laptops, then, when you’re ready to start shopping, check out our most recommended models in the grid above.
Toshiba’s laptops aren’t the fastest or sexiest computers available, but they do one thing better than anyone else: they often include older hardware options that aren’t available from other brands. That may sound like a bad thing, but it’s truly an asset. Toshiba excels at supporting older technologies that many of us still use every day.
In the age of streaming video, it’s genuinely challenging to find a quality laptop with a DVD drive. Many Toshiba laptops still include DVD burners, which are perfect for anyone with a large DVD collection or a need to backup data to DVDs.
Toshiba is among the last manufacturers to still make 17” laptops. While they’re not exactly portable, fanatics of the form factor love the massive amount of screen real estate and high screen resolutions that come with 17” machines.
While most of the world has moved on to HDMI, a lot of technology – that isn’t more than a few years old – still relies on the VGA video cable standard. If you want a new laptop that will work with older monitors or projectors, a VGA port is a must.
The road warrior’s best friend
Toshiba’s Portege laptops fall in the “ultrabook” category, which means they’re incredibly thin, and they’re much lighter than traditional laptops. Ultrabooks usually require some compromises on hardware, but Toshiba’s Portege makes some smart trade-offs: a high-end CPU, a generous amount of RAM, and a solid-state hard drive, balanced by a lower resolution screen and no DVD drive. If you’re a business user who needs an impossibly thin and light workhorse laptop (and you don’t care about fancy graphics), a Toshiba Portege is a fantastic choice.
Toshiba offers a wider variety of operating systems than most laptop manufacturers, so you’ll need to decide which is best for you while you’re shopping. Here are the options you’ll choose from:
Windows 7 or Windows 8.1
Toshiba makes a few models that feature Microsoft’s older versions of Windows. If you have applications that can only run on previous iterations of Windows, it may make sense to get a laptop with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on it. However, for the majority of users, Windows 10 is a better option – it’s more secure, and many newer applications simply won’t run on previous versions.
Windows 10 is Microsoft’s best and most powerful version of Windows yet. It features conveniences like Cortana, the built-in digital assistant who can accept voice commands, and DirectX 12, a powerful new version of the graphics engine that powers most PC games. If you need the most capable, straightforward operating system that Toshiba has to offer, buy a laptop running Windows 10.
Google’s Chrome OS takes their popular browser to the next level, evolving it into a full-fledged operating system. Chrome OS can run any web-based application or browser extension you can think of, so it’s perfect for users who do most of their computer work in a browser already. Laptops with Chrome OS are generally less expensive than Windows-based laptops.
In addition to traditional laptops, Toshiba also sells “2-in-1” computers, which are touchscreen laptops that also work as tablets. These types of computers are typically more expensive, but if you want a machine that can play mobile apps and is powerful enough for work or school, a 2-in-1 laptop might be a perfect choice.
Some laptop technical specifications can look similar, so make sure you know what’s what. For example, both RAM and hard drive space are measured in gigabytes (GB), but they’re very different things – we recommend buying a Toshiba laptop with at least 8GB of RAM and a hard drive with at least 120GB of storage.
Toshiba makes quality computers, but many users have reported negative experiences with their customer service team. If you’re concerned about post-purchase support, consider getting a third-party warranty. Most reputable websites and big box stores will give you the option to extend the warranty when buying.
Toshiba’s laptops are among the most affordable on the market today – but they don’t all bring the same value for the money.
As you’re shopping for a Toshiba laptop, keep these price ranges in mind.
Between $200 and $499, you’ll find Toshiba’s most modest offerings: underpowered Windows laptops and a few average Chromebooks. If you’re looking for a dirt-cheap machine that doesn’t need to do a whole lot, you don’t have to spend much.
Between $500 and $1,000, expect to see Toshiba’s best deals. Toshiba laptops in this price range have competent processors, a respectable amount of RAM, and high-resolution screens. Machines on the high end of the range may feel pricey, but they often offer the same specs that other manufacturers charge hundreds more for.
The middle of the road is still pretty great
Toshiba’s Tecra line of laptops won’t win any beauty contests, but they definitely get the job done. Tecra laptops feature solid processors, ample screen space, and the option to choose between Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. Just be a little wary of the screen resolution – Tecra laptop screens are clear enough for the occasional streaming movie, but not resolute enough to fit two documents on the screen at once.
As you’re shopping for a Toshiba laptop, consider these tips.
If you’re buying a Toshiba laptop to replace an older Windows computer, use Windows Migration Assistant to move your files and settings to your new laptop. Windows has a built-in tool for helping you move all of your files and settings from one Windows computer to another: Windows Migration Assistant. The software is designed to set up a new computer exactly as you had the previous one set up – passwords, bookmarks, documents, photos, and all – just be forewarned that the process can take several hours.
Think carefully about the screen resolution you’re looking for before buying. One of the laptop specs that’s easy to overlook is screen resolution – but available resolution defines your user experience, so it’s worth paying attention to. Some Toshibas only support low resolutions like 1366x768, which doesn’t even qualify as HD. If your needs are basic – general web browsing and checking email – that’s enough, but if you prize HD video, or you need enough screen space to see multiple open windows at once, buy a Toshiba laptop that supports a resolution of at least 1920x1080 or higher.
Q. Why do some laptops describe their hard drives as “SSD,” while others don’t?
A. Some laptops feature traditional, platter-based hard drives, while others rely on the more modern solid-state drives, which don’t have any moving parts. Solid state drives last longer and are much faster than traditional hard drives. If you can afford it, buy a Toshiba laptop that has an SSD hard drive. Be aware, a solid state drive will cost far more than a traditional hard drive of comparable capacity.
Q. Are ultrabooks as fast as typical laptops?
A. Ultrabooks are laptop computers designed to be as thin and light as possible. Most of them achieve this by minimizing the number of ports and drives they offer – for example, by not including a DVD drive. Ultrabook laptops usually feature a CPU that’s a smaller version of an older processor, so while current ultrabooks can’t keep up with the speeds of full-fledged cutting-edge laptops, they’re still quite fast, and entirely suitable for everyday use.
Q. What does “802.11ac WiFi” mean?
A. Every few years, an international group publishes new versions of the WiFi protocol – the technology that we use to get data wirelessly to our devices. Each iteration improves the speed and range of WiFi, so you can get faster connectivity from greater distances. The first WiFi standard was called “802.11b,” and subsequent generations got similar names: 802.11g, and 802.11n. The current iteration of the WiFi standard is 802.11ac, which is backwards compatible with all previous versions. If you see a Toshiba laptop advertised with 802.11ac WiFi, it means it supports the fastest WiFi currently available.
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