If you liked the brushed-metal look and feel of Toshiba's ambitious Kirabook laptop, but weren't as hot on the $1,699 and up price, the new Satellite E55 and E45t may be for you.
These just-introduced new laptops from Toshiba's mainstream line take some of the premium styling of the very expensive Kirabook, launched in May 2013, and translate it into a much more affordable package.
In fact, looking at these systems from the top of the lid, they look almost exactly like Toshiba's highest-end laptop. Only once you get up close can you that they're thicker, with plastic lower bodies, but still very nice-looking as far a budget/midprice laptops go. The 14- and 15-inch models are a little different, as outlined here.
Toshiba Satellite E55 series
This 15-inch ultrabook-like laptop comes in both AMD and Intel configurations. It starts at $579, which is great for a midsize laptop that's so well-built (at least from the demo unit we got to play around with recently), but keep in mind that's for a version with an AMD CPU and no touch screen (model name: E55D). Selling a thin, sharp-looking, 15-inch Windows 8 laptop without touch feels a little incongruous in the second half of 2013, even for under $600.
A touch-screen AMD version (E55Dt) will be $679, while the flagship Intel version (E55t), featuring a touch screen and one of Intel's fourth-generation Core i-series processors, will be $899.
Toshiba Satellite E45t
This single 14-inch configuration is going to be a Best Buy retail exclusive, but also available from Toshiba's Web site. For $817 (which Best Buy will likely reduce to $799 in-store), you get an Intel fourth-generation Core i-series processor and touch screen, and Toshiba says we should consider this system a replacement for the very popular Satellite U845t, which had a similar price and configuration.
While they look nice for sub-$1,000 laptops, all four laptops mentioned here have 1,366x768-pixel native screen resolutions, which starts to feel a little old in the more expensive configurations.
The Satellite E45t will be available at Best Buy starting August 4, and the E55 series will be available starting in September from a variety of retailers.