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Windows-8-picture-password.jpgThinking of swapping your trusty typed log-in passwords for one of Windows 8's fancy picture passwords? That may be a bad idea, as a new paper published by researchers at Arizona State University and Delaware State University suggests that they may be a bit too easy to crack.

Microsoft's Picture Gesture Authentication (PGA) system lets you draw three gestures on an image with your finger or stylus on a touch-based machine, or with a mouse on a standard laptop or desktop, which can then be used as a password. Images can be drawn from your personal photos stored in the Windows 8 Picture Library, or from a default set offered up by the OS.

However, the gestures can't be freely applied, with the OS automatically converting squiggles into either a tap, line or circle. On top of that, researchers using a custom web-based PGA system similar to the Windows one found that users picked out prominent points of interest on the pictures to apply the gestures to, such as a person's nose, or a standout object in the image.

Quizzing 685 respondents, the project found that just 9.8% said they randomly chose to draw without considering the background image, while 60.3% admitted that they looked for locations where "special objects" were, 22.1% where "special shapes" were, and 8.3% where "colours are different from their surroundings".

The researchers then applied these findings to create an experimental model and attack framework, generating algorithms based on the user data to crack a series of PGA passwords. Keeping the Windows 8 five log-in attempt limit in mind, the researchers were able to crack 48% of passwords from unseen pictures in the first dataset, and 24% in a second data set.

While not showing the password system to be a total cakewalk to crack, the research certainly shows the PGA to be at the very least no better than a standard alphanumeric code. If you insist on using the PGA system, avoid family photos then, and go for something trippy like a Magic Eye image instead.

Windows-8.1.jpgMicrosoft have confirmed that the Windows 8.1 update (formerly referred to as Windows Blue) will launch on October 17, 2013.

Free to existing Windows 8 users, the upgrade will be made available through the Windows Update system, as well as through retail channels and pre-loaded on brand new devices.

"Windows 8.1 continues the vision we began with Windows 8 and is an example of our commitment to continuous innovation and improvement for our customers," said Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc.

"And Windows 8.1 brings many improvements in areas like personalization, Internet Explorer 11, search which is powered by Bing, built-in apps including a few new ones, an improved Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity with SkyDrive (and much more) that people will enjoy."

Windows 8.1 brings a number of improvements to the Windows 8 operating system, including deeper SkyDrive cloud storage integration and deeper customisation options, as well as the long-awaited return of the desktop Start button.

RELATED:
Windows 8.1 preview: 14 of the best new features

Windows-8.1.jpgThe first major upgrade to Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, the Windows 8.1 update, is now said to be ready for a mid-October full release, following a period of public preview testing since June.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, whose stellar track record has spot-on when it comes to previous Microsoft details, suggested the date, one that would fit nicely considering it'd be almost an exact year since Window 8 first released.

Foley's report also suggests that brand new Windows 8 hardware will launch alongside the operating system revamp, though no specific manufacturers are mentioned. Microsoft are also expected to be releasing the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8.1 a little earlier, getting it in the hands of hardware manufacturers to give them a little more time to finalize specific driver details.

The details shared by ZDNet corroborate with a report from The Verge too, who state that Microsoft will be leaving a gap between the general and RTM release schedules in order to ensure patches and drivers are finalised ahead of the general October release.

As we detailed in our preview post earlier this summer, Windows 8.1 will bring a host of new fucntionality to the operating system, inculduing more Start screen customisation options, a revised app store and the return of the Start button on desktop.

RELATED:
Windows 8.1 preview: 14 of the best new features

ASUS giving up on Windows RT tablets

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asus-vivo-tab-rt-top.jpgASUS will no longer be supporting the Windows RT platform, the company has confirmed, following lacklustre interest in the "lite" version of the Microsoft operating system.

"It's not only our opinion, the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful," said ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The company will now focus on Intel-based tablets running the full Windows 8 operating system, alongside their other laptop, desktop and Android tablet interests.

ASUS's diminished interest in Windows RT is a sentiment shared by Nvidia, who also revealed they too had been burned by their involvement with the platform.

Microsoft's own heavily-marketed Windows Surface RT tablet also failed to set the world alight, and was soon superseded by the Surface Pro, running the full-fat version of Windows 8. Poor Surface RT sales led to the Redmond company having to write-down $900m for the Surface tablets in its latest earnings report, with sales only adding to $853m.

Windows RT was designed as a mobile-focussed OS for tablet devices, capable of running on low-power ARM-based systems. However, poor software compatibility and a lack of a traditional Windows desktop environment turned off would-be consumers.

halo-spartan-assault.jpgConsider yourself a Halo completionist? Then you'd better have a Windows 8 device: the latest entry into the Master Chief saga, Halo: Spartan Assault launches exclusively today on the Windows 8 platform, including desktop PCs running the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows Phone 8 smartphones, and Windows 8 tablets including the Surface range.

A top-down RTS game rather than the first-person shooter gameplay the series is known for, Spartan Assault is set between the Halo 3 and Halo 4 games, offering tactical, strategic play across maps familiar to series stalwarts.

Available today for £4.99 across devices, it's one of the few Windows 8 app exclusives that may make people sit up and take note.

And indeed, at least in terms of tablet sales, Microsoft will hope they do - the Redmond company posted strong Windows financial results today for the Q4 2013 period, but had revenues tarnished by a $900m loss due to underwhelming sales of the Surface RT range.

Pick up Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows Phone 8 handsets by clicking here. Desktop and tablet users can pick up their version here.

Windows-Phone-8-Watch.jpgNot wanting to be left out of the wearable technology party that's gearing up to be this year's big tech trend, further fuel has been added to the fire that Microsoft are rumoured to be working on a Surface Smart Watch to go along with their Surface tablet range.

According to sources speaking to The Verge and AmongTech, Microsoft have entered the prototyping stage for the device, which will feature a 1.5-inch display and will include a removable wrist bands in a range of colours including blue, red, grey, yellow, black and white - likely following the Windows 8 colour scheme.

The device, which was originally intended as a "Joule" heart rate monitor to accompany Xbox apps, has been moved over to the Surface development team as part of a company wide shake app intended to bring more unity to Microsoft's hardware divisions. Indeed, a smart watch pairing for the company's tablets seems a more meaningful addition to their hardware line-up than one intended for gaming purposes alone.

Sources claim that the watch prototypes are running a modified version of Windows 8, which should make it easy to integrate with existing Windows 8 devices, including the upcoming Xbox One (thanks to its tri-operating system architecture).

Those hoping for an inexpensive accessory may want to look elsewhere however, as the watch is rumoured to be using an expensive Oxynitride Aluminium, or "translucent aluminium", in its construction. In terms of hardware specs, LTE prototypes are being tested, as well as 6GB storage versions that are supplemented by Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage systems.

If the rumours are true, the company would likely face competition form the rumoured Apple iWatch, as well as confirmed devices on the way from Samsung, Sony and LG.

UKStore_mag.pngLekiosk is one of the most popular digital magazine reading applications on IOS and Android, popular thanks to its 3D newsstand-like interface.

And now it's headed to the Windows 8 operating system!

Publishers already touting their wares using lekiosk include the BBC and Dennis Publishing, with magazines such as Wired and T3 available through the service. The magazine library is expected to grow too in the coming months as more and more publishers are being added to lekiosk.

The move of lekiosk to Windows 8 is aimed to bring the digital reading platform to as many desktop users as possible, not to mention the growing number of Windows 8 tablet users. The popularity of Windows 8 has bloomed well with over 60 million licenses sold since release. lekiosk will be looking to capitalise upon the growing userbase, likely to grow substantially again once the consumer friendly features of the Windows 8.1 update land.

lekiosk offers two main price points. Customers can grab 3 magazines for £5 or alternatively 10 magazines for £10. The prices are fairly cheap comparable to those on the high street because the magazine publisher does not have to spend money on printing and transporting the magazine, passing the savings on to you.

Those not fussed about lekiosk's arrival on Windows 8 can check out rival services such as Apple's Newsstand, Zinio or Google Play Magazines. However, a quick scan of the lekiosk library, in my opinion, shows lekiosk to have the most comprehensive range of the gang.

For more on lekiosk and its arrival on Microsoft's platform, click here.

xbox-one-top.jpgThough the pre-launch buzz around the Xbox One has so far focussed on its abilities as a next-generation gaming machine alongside its entertainment-hub potential, the console may have another trick up its sleeve: the ability to run Windows 8 apps.

Covered briefly during Microsoft's annual Build conference in San Francisco, Steve Guggenheimer, vice president of Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism group, discussed the relationship between Microsoft's new gaming hardware and their PC operating system.

"Xbox One has two engines; it's got a gaming engine and it essentially has a Windows 8 engine," he said, hammering home the fact that the console runs on a Windows kernel.

Because of this, hinted Guggenheimer, the console could feasibly run Windows 8 applications.

"If you want to know about how to get a head start about thinking about developing for Xbox One, the logical thing to do is go build Windows 8 applications," he told the collected developers at the conference according to The Verge.

Bringing Window 8 applications to the console could prove a massive bonus to owning a Xbox One console over a rival PlayStation 4 from Sony, given the wealth of flexibility Windows 8 apps offer beyond console standards like media streaming and game play. However, Microsoft have also already stated that developers cannot self-publish on the Xbox One, instead requiring a publishing mediator to cut the deals for them. This would obviously stifle the potential creativity of the Windows 8 dev community, many of whom self-publish their wares to PC users. Microsoft should be looking to make an exception for Windows 8 app publishers on the Xbox One if Windows 8 app compatibility is indeed in the pipeline for the console, if the exception isn't already planned.

Windows-8.1.jpgWindows 8.1 is finally available to download in preview form, updating Microsoft's divisive operating system with new features that should help ease the pain of those turned off by the new-look OS.

The preview build is available for all to try out now. Click here to find out how to give it a go ahead of its late 2013 full release.

We've had some hands-on time with the new build of the OS and have picked out fourteen of the best new additions. Check them out below!

Toshiba-WT310-tablet-1.JPGWindows 8 as a desktop OS hasn't quite had the impact in the enterprise or education markets that Microsoft had hoped for, with new stats revealed today showing the operating system has only had 0.53% penetration in the enterprise sector. But we're living in the post-PC age, right? It's all about the tablet for the future of Windows, right? Right? Toshiba certainly believe so, showing off today their new WT310 Windows 8 Pro tablet. We had a brief play with it a little earlier.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-4.JPGA 11.6-inch tablet with a full HD touch screen, it's a highly configurable tablet aimed at both the education and business sectors, which can be equipped with either an Atom chip or the latest Core i5 Haswell processors.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-6.JPGSSD storage in every imaginable capacity (within reason) is available, as well as the same DigitizerPen for text input and handwriting recognition that we saw earlier in the Android-based Toshiba Excite Write tablet.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-2.JPGThough it's not the most exciting design, the WT310 did offer a wide variety of useful ports in a chassis that looked as though it could withstand the rigours of both business trips and the classroom. Measuring 229mm x 189mm x 12.4mm and weighing 825g, it has a single USB 3.0 port, a microHDMI output, an SD card slot and internal support for LTE mobile data connections and Intel WiDi screen sharing. Silver-coloured plastic edging also houses a docking port. But though the majority of the tablet seemed sturdy, the home button however can be described as flimsy at best, and looked worryingly loose on the demo model at today's event.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-7.JPGAn optional docking cradle is also available for the WT310, folding down for maximum portability. It houses an additional USB 3.0 port, as well as an SD card slot and Ethernet port. It's pricing has not yet been disclosed, but looks like a sensible add-on for those intending to use the tablet as a laptop or desktop replacement.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-8.JPGPricing will vary wildly depending on the specifics of the configuration, maxing out at around the £700-£800 mark according to the Toshiba rep on hand today. Expect to see these up for sale before the summer is out.

acer-iconia-w3.jpgAcer have confirmed the rumour that they are to release an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, today lifting the covers off their Acer Iconia W3 tablet.

Measuring 8.1 inches across and 11.3mm thick, the tablet is powered by a dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 processor, clocked at 1.8GHz.

Housing a display running at 1280x800 resolution, the tablet comes equipped with rear and front cameras (both 2MP), with storage options varying from 32GB to 64GB.

Looking to court those aiming to do some serious work on a tablet, the Iconia W3 also comes with Microsoft's Office Home & Student 2013 pre-installed.

Ready to hit stores later this month, expect to pay somewhere around £320 for the 64GB machine and £280 for the 32GB edition, providing Acer keep pricing close to the conversion rates from the price in Euros given so far.

Whether or not you buy Microsoft's message here that their Windows 8 tablet platform is better than Apple's iPad, you've gotta hand it to Microsoft's ad department here - this is pretty funny.

Using (an admittedly voice-overed) Siri against Apple's own tablet, Microsoft hammer home Windows 8's multi-tasking capabilities and office document creation smarts. If this advert was to be believed, you'd think all the iPad was good for was playing chopsticks on a digital piano, and playing it badly.

Buuuuuuuuurn.

Surface-big-top.jpgThough Microsoft remain tight-lipped over just how many Surface tablets they've managed to flog around the world, new research from analytics firm Strategy Analytics suggests that the company's Windows 8 software has at least inspired consumers to take a punt on Windows tablets.

Looking at the tablet market during the first quarter of 2013, the report shows that Windows tablet demand is on the up, with 3.4 million slates packing the Microsoft OS (from numerous manufacturers) shipping during the period.

That gives the Microsoft OS a 7.5% tablet market share, trailing behind Apple's iOS iPads (48.2%) and the multitude of Android tablets (43.4%) from basically every consumer tech company in the world that isn't Apple. Though only a small chunk of the pie, 7.5% share after 5 months release against two well established tablet giants isn't half bad.

Keep in mind that Strategy Analytics aren't explicitly defining what constitutes a Windows 8 tablet here - with the operating system in its many guises working across tablets and convertible touchscreen notebooks, it's possible that these figures are also taking in sales of those machines too.

windows-8-blue-1.jpgWindows 8 is a grower: you'll be frustrated with it at first, seemingly moving things around just for the sake of it, but give it time and you'll find it a pretty comfortable progression from Windows 7. For many though, that "Metro" Start screen is still an issue, with plenty hoping to be able to just jump straight to the standard desktop view after booting.

With a leaked version of the Windows Blue update now in the wild, Russian Blog Microsoft Portal are suggesting that this feature may indeed soon be offered by the Redmond company.

They've spotted a revamped twinui.dll file that will check either a registry key or policy setting to set whether or not a user wants to see the divisive Start screen, with the value tagged CanSuppressStartScreen within the DLL.

So why would Microsoft perhaps be thinking of offering the option to skip entirely the most-publicised addition to their latest operating system? It seems it will be to appease enterprise users, who need to milk every working second they can get, rather than getting to grips with a new interface. IT Administrators may be more open to upgrading systems to Windows 8 if the Start screen can be skipped.

Even without a simple UI option to implement the Start screen skip, it's still possible to jump straight to the desktop view in Windows 8. Users need only add the Explorer.exe to the CurrentVersion\Run registry key.

The Windows 8 Blue update is expected to land before the end of the year, with a public preview likely following Microsoft's annual developers conference in June.

medio-akoya-asda-top.jpgThere's a neat all-in-one Windows 8 PC from Medion doing the rounds at Asda at the moment, letting you pop a computer in your trolley along with your "big shop" groceries.

A budget all-in-one that has sharp looks if basic internal hardware, the Medion Akoya P2004 is a 23.6-inch non-touch machine packing all its processing tech into the back of the Full HD 1080p screen.

A dual-core 3.2GHz Core i3 processor backed by 4GB of RAM won't set the world on fire, while the 1TB hard drive and DVD burner are standard features.

The cost however is pretty reasonable, landing at £499.99 with a 24 month warranty as an Asda supermarket exclusive. That's Asda price.

The full specs list is as follows:

* Model MEDION AKOYA P2004
* CPU 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i3-3220 Processor
* Panel 23,6" screen with Full HD 1080p and LED backlight technology - non touch
* Graphic Intel® HD graphics 2500 (on board)
* Chipset Intel® H61 Express Chipset
* Memory 4096 MB DDR3 RAM
* HDD 1000 GB HDD - SATA
* Webcam 1,0 MP Webcam incl. Microphone
* Optical Drive Multiformat DVD/CD Burner with DVD-RAM and dual layer support1
* Sound 6 Channel Audio
* Wireless LAN Wireless LAN 802.11 n Standard included
* Connectivity Rear: 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI In, 1x HDMI out, 1x Mic in, 1x Line out, 1x LAN in. Side: 2x USB 2.0, 1x Mic in, 1x Headphone, 7-in-1 Multi-card reader3
* Keyboard/Mice Wireless Keyboard and optical Mouse
* Operating System Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
* Office Software Office 365 Home Premium (one-month free trial version) - Buy Microsoft Office to activate the full range of functions in Office software.
* Application Software 1 CBL W8 DVD Combo (DT-A) Software Pack
* Anti-Virus Software Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 (90 Day Trial)[4]
* Warranty/Service 24 Months Warranty

windows-8-blue-1.jpgMicrosoft have confirmed in a blog post that the forthcoming Windows 8 "Blue" operating system update is on its way, but will land under a different name once it's officially released.

Frank Shaw, the company's VP of corporate communications, told the world that the Blue labelling is only an internal concern with "the chances of products being named thusly are slim to none."

The update is expected to further close the gap between the Windows 8 and mobile Windows Phone 8 operating systems, tying services across the two together. As such, a Windows Phone 8 "Blue" update is also expected at some point later this year.windows-8-blue-3.jpgIn terms of pricing, the update is also expected to be far cheaper than the generational-upgrade to Windows 8. Taking a lead out of Apple's Mac OSX book, Microsoft are now looking to update the OS on an annual basis, requiring a user to cough up only a small chunk of money for a host of new features each year.

What will those features be though? A leak over the weekend gave us our best indication yet, which included far greater customisation options over Windows 8's Start screen Live Tiles, improved split-screen multitasking and the inclusion of Internet Explorer 11.

Microsoft are hosting their annual Microsoft's Build developer conference over 26 - 28 June at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Expect some more concrete details to arrive then.

windows-8-blue-1.jpgWindows Blue, the forthcoming update to the Windows 8 operating system, has been leaked in a series of screenshots at WinForum, giving us a good look at what Microsoft have planned next for their latest OS.

Among the changes coming is greater control over customisation of the Start tiles interface, letting you resize app tiles to be even smaller - handy for those lesser-used applications.windows-8-blue-2.jpgThe Snap Views option will also be expanded, letting you share a screen 50/50 between different apps, as well as doing the same across multiple monitors.

Sky Drive integration gets updated too, including automatic camera uploads and further back-up options. There will also be a new tab-sync option, letting you check out what tabs you have open on other Windows 8 device browsers.windows-8-blue-3.jpgWindows Blue will also see the introduction of Internet Explorer 11, but beyond the logo screenshot above little else about the new web browser is revealed.

No word yet on the Windows Blue release date, but the public preview is expected to land in the next few months. Safe money is on a release around late Autumn.

xps-18-all-in-one.pngDell's latest attempt to bring the worlds of mobile touch and desktop computing together have been on show at this year's SXSW festival.

The company have been showcasing their new XPS 18 All-in-one machine, an 18.4-inch Windows 8 computer with touchscreen smarts and a kickstand, letting it work as comfortably as an on-the-go tablet as it does a stationary desktop computer.

Well, as comfortable as an 18.4-inch machine ever is - it's hardly iPad Mini portable, but weighing less than five pounds at least it wouldn't give you a hernia trying to move it about.

Aside from the full HD resolution of the screen and the near-certain baked in flash storage, little is known about the XPS 18 All-in-One. We'll keep you posted with full specs, pricing and release info as we get it.

It's not the first time we've seen machines of this ilk however - last year we saw Sony's Vaio Tap 20 hit stores, while ASUS took a slightly different path with the docking 18.4 inch dual-booting Transformer AiO this year.

microsoft_studios_play.jpgMicrosoft have announced the launch of Play for Windows 8, a new initiative that looks to put Xbox Live Arcade games from the Xbox 360 console onto computers, smartphones and tablets running their latest operating system.

Promoting the cross-device smarts of the Windows 8 OS, the Microsoft Studios project launched with a line-up of 15 games (many of which will already be familiar to Xbox 360 gamers) and all but one (Toy Soldiers 4) also compatible with the Microsoft Surface tablet line.

The full list of titles is as follows:

  • Toy Soldiers 4
  • Elements: Special Edition
  • Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Rocket Riot 3D
  • Reckless Racing Ultimate
  • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  • Microsoft Mahjong
  • Microsoft Minesweeper
  • Taptiles
  • Adera
  • Pinball FX2
  • Wordament
  • Gunstringer: Dead Man Running
  • Ilomilo+, Skulls of the Shogun.

With sales of Windows 8 growing steadily and now said to number in excess of 60 million, Microsoft will be keen to promote the operating system as a good choice for gamers, especially when Valve's Gabe Newell (arguably THE key player in PC gaming thanks to the success of the Steam store) continues to slam Windows 8.

DSCF9591.JPGreview-line.JPGName: Toshiba Satellite P845t-101

Type: Touchscreen laptop

Review Model Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price: £749

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The Windows 8 revolution is in full swing, with every laptop manufacturer worth their salt putting out touchscreen-packing laptops. Toshiba's Satellite P845t-101 is one of the first to hit the market, offering a 10-point touchscreen display alongside a traditional laptop form-factor. But is it a comfortable feature to use, and is it worth the extra price premium? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGToshiba's Satellite P845t-101 sits at the premium end of mid-range machines from Toshiba. Packing in a Core i5-3317U processor clocked at 1.7GHz (2.6GHz with Turbo Boost), it houses 6GB of RAM, using Intel's HD Graphics 4000 rather than a discrete graphics chip. It's a comfortably powerful laptop that jumps through the Windows 8 modern UI tile interface (or "Metro" if you prefer) with ease, handling multiple simultaneous video streams, general office functions and casual gaming without a stutter, but those looking to do any substantial 3D gaming or big video editing projects will quickly cause it to buckle.DSCF9576.JPGThe slight premium in price is accounted for with a 14-inch capacitive touchscreen display capable of taking in 10 simultaneous points of touch input. Though we've been skeptical of touchscreen laptops in the past, the experience we had with the Satellite P845t-101 was a surprisingly pleasant one. Responsive to the touch, with the internal hardware more than up to the task of processing our actions lag-free, we found ourselves using the touchscreen far more than we had expected to. Indeed, some of the quirkier, more troublesome gestures and UI elements of the Windows 8 operating system are more easily overlooked when touch control is involved, and as such the hybrid pairing of physical and touchscreen controls certainly seems the best way to enjoy Microsoft's latest OS in our opinion. It also makes the laptop a little more accessible for the less tech-y out there; pre-installed games like Cut the Rope and Doodle God were just as enjoyable on the laptop as they would be on an iPad or comparable tablet device.

It's not perfect though. For starters, Toshiba's 16:9 panel runs at a lowly 1366 x 768 resolution, the bare minimum we'd find acceptable in a portable machine these days. It's a bright screen, but viewing angles are tight and colours feel generally washed out. However, its glossy coating does well to avoid picking up too many unsightly finger marks, something that will be a challenge for touchscreen laptop manufacturers going forward.DSCF9577.JPGThe laptop itself is reasonably attractive, with a textured chrome finish used throughout, but eschews the ultra-slim trend currently in vogue. Measuring 349x234x29mm and weighing roughly 2KG, it's a chunky machine that will feel burdensome on an extended journey. The extra heft does allow for a decent array of ports to be included though, with a generous 3 USB 3.0 ports onboard, alongside an Ethernet port, a HDMI-out and headphone jack, as well as the option of hooking up an external monitor. You also get a DVD drive (a dying breed), which suffers from using a tiny, finicky eject button - you'll too often find yourself fruitlessly pushing against the inner spring mechanism rather than hitting the button itself.

We also noticed a slight gap between the keyboard and screen lid when the laptop was closed, something that could lead to screen damage if something were to slide between the two sections when stored away in a bag.DSCF9569.JPGThe keyboard is comfortable to use over extended periods. Keys are a nice size with good travel, and are gently backlit for late-night sessions. The glossy finish however can make them feel a little sticky under your fingertips, but on the whole its one of the better laptop keyboards we've used recently. There's no numberpad, but a selection of media shortcut keys are useful for movie watching or skipping through playlist tracks.DSCF9582.JPGA large single button trackpad (designating left and right mouse clicks to either side of the pad) is included, with a smooth finish that was lovely to use. Windows 8 gestures were easy to trigger (perhaps a little too easy). It's worth noting though that, if you do find yourself regularly using the touchscreen, you'll likely find yourself brushing the trackpad and triggering unwanted input - an unavoidable side-effect of this form factor unless some sort of proximity sensor is implemented.DSCF9578.JPGJust above the keyboard below the screen's right edge sits a small, circular backlit power button, and below that on either side of the keyboard is the stereo speakers, here provided by Harman Kardon. They're a cut above most laptop speakers, especially in comparison to slimline ultrabooks. They crank up surprisingly loudly, suffering only from an exaggerated bass and loss of detail in the mid ranges.

A regular HDD, rather than SSD or hybrid storage solution, is onboard, offering up 640GB of storage space. It's a decent amount of space, but Toshiba have popped a fair amount of bloatware on here, including McAfee virus protection, the Wildtangent games hub, Toshiba's own Video Player, as well as Amazon, eBay and Netflix apps. While the last three are likely to be of use to most users, they won't be for everyone, and should not be forced on them. The lack of an SSD drive or hybrid alternative also makes for lengthy boot times; you're looking at on average a 45 second wait from a cold boot.DSCF9572.JPGBattery life was more impressive however. With the moderate strain of continuous video streaming at full brightness, we squeezed over 3 and a half hours out of the battery from a single charge. Being a chunky machine, its likely the laptop will be tied to a wall socket and desktop for most of its life, but it's good to know you'd just about get through all of Lawrence of Arabia should the mood take you. The laptop managed to maintain a comfortably low heat too, with only a low (if regular) whirring sound kicking in when the computer started to heat up.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

It's a solid start to touchscreen Windows 8 laptops for Toshiba then. The Satellite P845t-101 handles touch input with ease, and you'll find yourself perhaps surprised at how often you'll be swiping away at the screen. The build of the laptop itself leaves a bit to be desired, as does the visual quality of the display, but overall the Satellite P845t-101 is worthy of its slight premium over similarly spec'd machines.review-line.JPG

3.5/5

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