Toshiba WT310 £1090
12th Jul 2013 | 08:30
The Windows 8 tablet with identity issues
The WT310 is Toshiba's answer to the Microsoft Surface Pro, but to even try and compare the two devices would be foolish.
Where the Surface Pro is the definition of utilitarian efficiency, with its fixed specs and clean-cut magnesium body, the WT310 has been designed from the start to be one of the most flexible Windows 8 Pro tablets you can buy.
Designed for the business and education market, the WT310 can be customised with any conceivable form of storage - including the Intel i5 Haswell series - which makes it a very serious competitor not only to the Surface Pro, but also to many of the premium Windows 8 tablets out there.
But simply offering a specs list is rarely enough and many Windows 8 tablets in the past have followed a trend of being either underpowered or overpowered and impractical to carry. In some respects the WT310 addresses these concerns, but in others it becomes a frustratingly old story.
Let's get one thing out of the way right now: the WT310 is no looker. The utilitarian aspirations of the product are expressed in a thoroughly undecorative exterior. The WT30 looks about as interesting as a doorstop.
The tablet is almost entirely made from plastic, and weighs in at 825g - and while that makes it lighter than the Surface Pro, we would have accepted the weight gain for an increase in build quality.
While it's clearly been built to withstand the daily commute, it makes for an unpleasant holding experience, with the back plate flexing inwards to an alarming degree.
Large vented ports on the top, side and bottom help pump air around, keeping that state-of-the-art fourth generation Intel i5 processor cool.
The home button is large and easily accessible, and while it doesn't feel great, it certainly looks like it'll last.
Plenty of power
We tested the WT310-108, which is the highest specced version and comes with Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. With a 3MP camera on the back and a 1MP camera on the front, this is surprisingly low, considering the competition and in use it really shows.
Underneath the plastic shell, there's an extremely capable i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD, putting it on a par with not only the Surface Pro but also some of the better Ultrabooks out there (as well as the Apple MacBook Air). Of course, what's important to remember is that these specs come at a price, making the WT310-108 a serious investment.
Adorning the front there's a 11.6-inch Full-HD LED display. Colours are impressively recreated with extremely dark blacks, but what it boasts in fidelity it lacks in brightness, making it extremely difficult to use in sunlight.
News isn't any rosier when it comes to audio either. Despite having two speakers on the bottom, the WT310 sounds awful, with extremely low volume levels. It's as if more of the sound is directed into the device, causing a tinny distortion to occur when they're pushed even slightly.
In truth, the WT310 hasn't been created as the ultimate entertainment centre. Instead, it's intended as a truly portable office solution, and it certainly ticks many of the boxes.
Pen support is present, but a built-in holder will cost you extra. Windows 8 Pro means you'll be able to run full versions of Office without it breaking a sweat, and the AppUp storefront gives you a choice of apps optimised for the processor.
Connectivity is also excellent, with a mini HDMI, USB 3.0, SD Card and Bluetooth 4.0 all present and correct. One thing to note is the sound of the fan: even when performing apparently low-level tasks, the WT310 is by no means a quiet tablet. Place it somewhere between an Xbox 360 and a MacBook Air in terms of noise.
We've focused a lot on the WT310's negatives, but we can see it being a faithful companion to any travelling businessman or woman. The impressive specs sheet and a sturdy - but uninspiring - shell mean it should certainly last.
But why pay this much money for what appears to be increased portability, only to find yourself with a loud fan, poor sound and a dim screen that will be hard to see in many locations? The WT310 can do a lot of what you need, but at this price, we expect something you can really love.