From hardcore gaming to everyday use, there’s a new MSI laptop for everybody
Toshiba Satellite P50T-B00R laptop
Contrary to its specific model name, this laptop is anything but a 'B00R', with a 4K screen and fast Core i7 processing making it a very interesting proposition for video work
- 4K screen
- Fast Core i7 CPU
- Good built-in features
- Touchscreen is reflective
- Keys have a very smooth finish
- Storage a little slow
Toshiba's Satellite P50t is among the first laptops on the market to make use of a 4K screen, and it's pitched at early adopters of technology, as well as those of you who need to work with 4K video files. It's a good unit overall, though it does have drawbacks.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
The Toshiba Satellite P50T-B00R (PSPNVA-00R00N) is a 15.6in laptop that puts you right in the thick of the latest technology. Not only is it a fully decked-out desktop replacement computer, it’s a computer that ships with a 4K (ultra-high definition) screen. To use a digital camera analogy, it's an 8-megapixel product. Many typical laptops are 2-megapixel products or lower. But does the extra-high resolution make sense on a laptop that has a 15.6in screen size?
The pros and cons of a 4K laptop screen
One thing’s for sure, if you view the Satellite P50t at its native resolution of 3840x2160 pixels without scaling the text and icons to make them appear bigger, your eyes are probably going to hurt. Text looks so small that it can barely be read at all at its native size, and some form of scaling will be a must. Toshiba knows this and ships the P50t with the text and icons set to 250 per cent of their original size.
Its pre-installed Desktop Assist software has a section called Desktop Utility, from which the text setting can be changed, or you can use Windows 8’s Display Properties to do the same thing. It’s not a great solution, though, because it doesn’t scale everything. For example, we noticed that some Flash-based content in Web pages didn’t scale, and some dialogue boxes and system windows that did scale (such as Device Manger) looked blurry. Furthermore, scaling negates one of the major benefits of having such a high resolution, which is the huge viewing area that can allow you to make the most of busy application windows, and also allow you to broaden your multitasking ability by lining up three windows side by side across the screen.
You might have a hard time finding 4K content that can bring the ultra-high definition screen to life, and this is a problem any new display standard faces. Once you do find some files that can show off the screen, its crispness and rich colour reproduction might just blow you away. All of the content we’ve seen vendors use to show off their 4K screens has been of the time-lapse variety, created with still images from digital cameras and then pieced together as a movie. That stuff looks great, and it’s a way that you can create 4K content yourself at home, as long as you have a digital camera with at least an 8-megapixel sensor and some editing know-how.
If you search around the Web for a while, you will find that there are also some video trailers out there that are available in 4K. We found some worthy examples: the movies Elysium and Girl Gone have 4K trailers, and we also found a couple of other short files called Honey Bees, and Solar Rain of Fire. We downloaded all of these rather than streaming them, with file sizes being about 200MB per minute of video. It’s well worth seeking these types of files so that you can really see what the 4K resolution can do.
That said, we don’t think it’s great for consumption of 4K content. The extra-high resolution is meant to be of benefit to bigger screen sizes than Full HD can handle (think screen sizes greater than 60in), so to have it on such a small screen somewhat negates its usefulness.
What this screen offers, though, is a chance for content producers to see what their 4K videos will look like at their native size, and on a laptop that they can use either at home or in the studio. Currently, some of the latest smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2, can shoot 4K video, and so can Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4, so the Satellite P50t’s screen is a good match for those devices when you want to view the results of your recording.
We really like the quality of the screen overall, and think it looks sensational, not only when viewing movies, but also when displaying photographs. In fact, one of the great things about the high resolution is that you can see so much more of your photos while editing. Another bonus is the number of photos that can be previewed on the screen. As an example, if you use photo services such as Flickr, you’ll be able to see a lot more photos on the screen at one time compared to a screen with a Full HD resolution.
There is a major hurdle to overcome when viewing movies and photos, though, and that is the screen’s glossiness and reflectivity. Because it’s a touchscreen, the panel has a shiny finish that reflects a lot of light. It can make for an annoying overall user experience as you try to position the screen away from light sources by rotating the base or tilting the screen.
Considering the screen can get filthy from fingerprints, too, touching it is not a good idea if you plan to view photos and videos afterwards. We wish Toshiba had gone with a matte type of display for this laptop instead, and shunned the touchscreen functionality. The small text and icons can make it hard to use anyway, unless you’re regularly in the Windows Modern UI.
Another thing that we noticed with the screen was some backlight bleeding during dark scenes, and a slight lack of uniformity in the brightness. The bottom-right corner looked a little duller than the rest of the screen.
Next page: Overall design, features, and should you buy it?
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