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Toshiba shows off 14-inch Ultrabook, we go hands-on

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It might not be obvious this early on in CES week, so forgive us for dropping a spoiler: you're going to see lots -- and we mean lots -- of 14-inch Ultrabooks. Big-screened things, some of them making room for optical drives and discrete graphics -- the sorts of systems we'd sooner call thin-and-lights than Ultrabooks. (Potato, potahto, are we right?) It's clear that overgrown Ultras going to be a thing, regardless of whether you buy into the marketing hype, and as of today you can count Toshiba as a proud member of the welcome wagon. The company is showing off a 14-incher here at CES, and though it's not ready to confirm specs, pricing or even the model name, we did get to spend a few quality minutes poking around a pre-production unit. So far, we know it will cost "well under" $1,000, and go on sale in the June time frame, just as the back-to-school shopping season kicks off. If you want the short story, you can skip straight to those hands-on shots below and check out our first impressions after the break.

Gallery: Toshiba teases 14-inch Ultrabook | 12 Photos



Though Toshiba hasn't shared many details about this guy, we do know it'll be released under the company's consumer-focused Satellite brand. It's a telling move, suggesting Toshiba is wary of alienating mainstream shoppers, folks who might not know the Portege name or appreciate a Kensington lock slot, but who will recognize the Satellite brand after making enough trips to Best Buy. And if you think the Engadget staff doth speculate too much, Toshiba reps were actually quite candid on this point in conversations with us.

Indeed, this Ultrabook, whatever it ends up being called, has more in common with current Satellite laptops than it does Toshiba's first Ultrabook, the Portege Z835. Whereas the Z835 is exceptionally thin and light, at just 2.47 pounds, this has the same rounded edges and corners that you'll see on current-gen Satellites. Everything is soft, unpretentious, accessible. And while the Z835 is made of a rigid magnesium alloy, its bigger brother is fashioned out of aluminum, with a plastic sheet on the bottom. Still, Toshiba at least took the opportunity to rid the Z835's design of everything that made it so cluttered: the chrome accents, the oddly shaped hinge, the generous sprinkling of LED lights. All that's gone, and in its place you'll find a clickpad and a spartan keyboard deck that's been scrubbed of buttons. (For better or worse, though, the squat, shallow keys appear unchanged.) All told, it's a safer, more contemporary design than what the Z835 has to offer, even if it isn't terribly original.

To be clear, what we saw recently was a reference design, meaning these ports are subject to change, but for now it has a well-rounded collection that includes USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 sockets, Ethernet, HDMI, headphone and mic ports and a memory card reader. We're also optimistic that that thicker chassis will also accommodate a robust battery -- Toshiba is cautiously saying it expects runtime to max out at around eight hours. Certainly, the Z835's strong showing on our grueling battery rundown gives us reason to hope its big brother will be similarly longevous. In any case, we'll just have to wait until the summertime to see for ourselves.

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