The Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 is a really well-rounded hybrid notebook for workers. It comes in two hardware configurations — one with a super-sharp 4K display, and one with a standard 1080p display – and workers would be wise to opt for the latter. That's because it offers better battery life and faster performance, and it costs a lot less, too. The 1080p model starts at just $799, compared with $1,299 for the 4K version. So does this compact and affordable 2-in-1 laptop below in your work bag?
The Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 is handsome laptop. The lid and keyboard sport a nice brushed metal effect, though the finish tends to attract fingerprints. Overall, the machine feels extremely sturdy and well-made, which is a perk for commuters who need to lug the notebook between home and the office.
Commuters will also appreciate the machine's lightweight design. At 2.93 lbs., the Radius 12 is lighter than many rival 12-inch hybrids like Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga 12 (3.52 lbs.). It's not the lightest 12-inch laptop around, though; the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 (2.68 lbs) and the 12-inch MacBook (2.03 lbs.) are both lighter, though those machines have less powerful hardware.
As its name implies, the Radius 12 has a folding hinge that can flip backward a full 360 degrees, letting you use the notebook like a large, thick tablet. The 12-inch notebook has a footprint small enough to make the tablet mode feel practical, but at 3 lbs. it's a bit too heavy to carry around like an iPad.
I'm partial to the intermediate modes, which provide easy access to the touch display. Tent Mode is handy for using touch-screen apps in cramped quarters, such as on an airplane tray table. And Stand Mode is nice for showing off a short presentation or PowerPoint slideshow to a small group.
The Radius 12 runs on Windows 10 – the latest iteration of Microsoft's desktop operating system – which has a couple of features to help you transition between modes. The software automatically detects when the keyboard has been folded back more than halfway, then switches to a touch-friendly layout with full-screen apps and big navigation buttons in the bottom corner of the interface.
Unfortunately, the Radius 12 lacks support for an active stylus, so its hybrid design isn't as useful as it could be. Other folding laptops – such as the Dell XPS 12 and the Lenovo ThinkPad 12 – come with pressure-sensitive styluses for taking notes right on their displays.
The 1080p display on this version of the Radius 12 is more than sharp enough for a notebook this size – even if it can't come close to matching the clarity or vibrancy of the 4K display on the top-end model. But, ultimately, a power-hungry 4K display is overkill on a 12-inch laptop.
The 12.5-inch panel on this lower-end model has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is fine for everyday work tasks. Its meager dimensions and modest resolution can make split-screen multitasking feel cramped, though. The extra resolution on its 4K counterpart made multitasking a lot more comfortable.
At least the 1080p display is quite bright. Topping out at 369 nits, it outshone the 4K model (338 nits), as well as the Yoga 900 (284 nits), the EliteBook (224 nits) and the 12-inch MacBook (353 nits). The Dell XPS 12 was the brightest of the bunch, though, at 413 nits. A brighter display is easier to view in direct sunlight, but all these screens are more than bright enough for typical indoor use.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Radius 12's keyboard is decent, but has a few quirks that will frustrate touch typists. For starters, key travel is a bit on the shallow side at 1.35 millimeters, which is slightly under the 1.5-mm laptop average. That's not bad for a system this portable, but a deeper keyboard would have provided a more comfortable, desktoplike typing experience.
Unorthodox key placement is also occasionally an issue. The tilde key has been awkwardly squeezed between the left Alt key and space. As a result, I occasionally struck the tilde key by accident. I'm not thrilled by the small size of the arrow keys, either, which can make it tough to navigate through documents.
I was also annoyed by the placement of the notebook's touchpad, which is positioned slightly to the left of center. That meant that I had to stretch my right thumb to tap the pad. It also meant that my left palm occasionally brushed up against it, causing the cursor to jump. The pad's palm-rejection capabilities made that a relatively rare occurrence, though.
The entry-level Radius 12 model comes with a 6th-generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. In terms of raw specs, that puts it behind the 4K model, which boasts a beefier Core i7-6500U processor. But, believe it or not, the 1080p Radius 12 actually outperformed the 4K model, which has a power-hungry display.
On the Geekbench 3 test, the 1080p Radius 12 scored an impressive 6,258, which edges out the 4K model's score of 5,779 and soundly beats the category average of 4,340. It also easily outperformed its Core-M-powered rivals, including the Dell XPS 12 (4,875), the HP EliteBook 1020 (3,814) and the 12-inch MacBook (4,631). The 13-inch MacBook Pro (7,113) and the Yoga 900 (6264) were faster, however.
The 1080p Radius 12 beat nearly all challengers on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 29 seconds. That's faster than the 4K Radius 12's 5 minutes and 34 seconds. It also beats the EliteBook (6:36), the XPS 12 (5:13) and the 12-inch MacBook (4:33). The Yoga 900 was slightly faster, finishing the task in 4 minutes and 18 seconds.
Even if you can afford the 4K version of the Radius 12, you might want to opt for the longer-lasting 1080p model, anyway. With a 4K display installed, the Radius 12 died after a paltry 5 hours and 17 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. With fewer pixels to push, the 1080p model ran for nearly 2 hours longer, finally dying after a solid 7 hours and 22 minutes. That also beats the Dell XPS 12, which ran for just 5 hours and 17 minutes on the same test.
Some rival notebooks offer better endurance, though, including the Yoga 900 (7:57) and the 12-inch MacBook (8:43). The battery life king is the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which ran for an epic 12 hours and 4 minutes.
The Radius 12 offers a good selection of ports compared with its closest rivals. On the left edge you'll find a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port and a USB Type-C port, which helps futureproof the machine.
The right edge has an additional USB 3.0 port and a full-size SD card slot for expanding the notebook's internal memory.
It's a much more practical selection than you'll find on many rival laptops, including the XPS 12, which has two USB Type-C ports, but no full-size USB ports. Apple's 12-inch MacBook, meanwhile, has just a single USB Type-C port – and that's it. That means you'll need an adapter to plug most of your current computer accessories into either one of those systems.
The Radius 12 comes in a couple of different hardware configurations. The $800 model featured in this review boasts a 6th-generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of solid state drive (SSD) storage and a 12.5-inch, 1080p touch display.
Toshiba also sells a pricier $1,299 model, which includes an Intel Core i7-6500U processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, as well as a super-high-res 4K touch display.
The 4K-equipped Satellite Radius 12 packs a stunning display, but the 1080p model is a much better value. Starting at just $799, it offers stronger performance and longer battery life than the higher-res version, and does so at a much more affordable price. The Radius 12 is also portable enough to please commuters, and I think that workers will find its 2-in-1 design to be genuinely useful.
There are a handful of solid alternatives. Dell's XPS 12 is the obvious option, with a more comfortable keyboard and an excellent stylus, but it doesn't last as long on a charge. The 12-inch MacBook is the most portable option, and it offers much longer battery life than any rival notebook, but it's not as fast as the Radius 12 and it lacks 2-in-1 functionality.
Overall, workers who want a well-rounded 12-inch laptop will probably love the Satellite Radius 12. Just make sure you opt for the 1080p model.