Toshiba Satellite U840W pictures and hands-on

Taking the chance to claim a "world's first", Toshiba has launched an Ultrabook with a cinemascope display - the Toshiba Satellite U840W. That's right, this laptop has a 21:9 display, making it something of an oddball.

We know what you're thinking: was the Ultrabook market crying out for a 21:9 aspect model? We're not sure it was, but Toshiba has now stepped up to the mark.

The 14.4-inch display gives you a 1792 x 768 pixel resolution which, yes, means it has a height similar to the fallen-from-favour netbooks of yesteryear.

Toshiba is pushing the Satellite U840W as an ideal companion for watching video without the black bars, supporting the launch of the final Christopher Nolan Batman film The Dark Knight Rises in the process. Video looks good and sound good, thanks to the Harman Kardon speakers, but watching video is probably only a minor part of what you do on your laptop.

To get around this, the Toshiba Split Screen Utility will let you convert the display into a 16:9 section with a 5:9 sidebar. This means you can work on a document, for example, while keeping a Skype or Twitter window open next to it.

But that doesn't get around the fact that you lose a lot of height from the display, so scrolling is something you'll have to get used to.

Moving on from the most obvious oddity of this Ultrabook, the quality and finish of the Satellite U840W is pretty good. It looks premium and feels premium in the hand, with a nice grippy rubberised finish, merged with a metal skin.

Measuring 368.5 x 200 x 20.8mm, it's obviously not going to slip into your current laptop sleeve. However, there is something rather quaint about the U840W when closed. Carrying it around in the hand it doesn't feel as bulky as the dimensions suggest.

Tuck it under the arm, like a folded copy of The Times, back in the days when a broadsheet was exactly that, and you'll feel rather sophisticated. This Ultrabook weighs 1.57kg, so it's pretty light too.

And in that there might just be a niche. It's not uncomfortable to carry around and there is the obvious advantage that you'll be able to open this in a cramped train or aircraft seat without too much effort.

The deck surrounding the keyboard is naturally smaller than a traditional aspect rival, but the keyboard is good quality, offering a decent action without too much flex. There is still space for a large trackpad too, so the Satellite U840W, although an oddball, doesn't feel entirely compromised.

As an Ultrabook it offers typical specs, running on a third-gen Intel Core processor, with up to 10GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive in addition to the 32GB SSD in place to speed things along.

In terms of connectivity you get 3x USB 3.0, one of which offers Sleep-and-Charge, Ethernet, HDMI and a card reader. The normal wireless connectivity is in place too, including Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and Wireless Display support.

At this point we can't judge how the Toshiba Satellite U840W will be received. We like that Tosh is trying something different, but we're sure that many will see it as impractical because of that odd display arrangement.

The Toshiba Satellite U840W will be available in Q3 2012, starting from £899.