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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)
Overall design and features
While the screen itself makes the P50t a premium product, the aesthetics of the unit also provide an elegance that’s expected in a $2499, early adopter’s product. There is minimalist look when you lift the lid, and it’s similar to the look that Toshiba first gave to the KIRA Ultrabook, which was among the early ultra-high-resolution Windows-based laptops that we reviewed (that one was 2560x1440). A single power button ringed by a white LED adorns the space above the keyboard, and it’s set among the unit’s speaker grille.
At this point, we should mention that the speakers on this laptop are much better than average. They sound clear and have enough dynamic range to reproduce musical tones and voices accurately. They make the listening experience quite enjoyable, though they tend to distort a bit at the highest volume, depending on the source. You can get over this by not listening at full blast.
Along the sides of the laptop, you get a good amount of built-in features, including four USB 3.0 ports, full-sized HDMI (from which you can also output to a supported display at up to 4K), a Gigabit Ethernet port, and separate microphone and headphone ports. It also includes an SD card slot at the front, and a built-in Blu-ray drive on the left side. Annoyingly, the optical drive kept making a noise every now and then, which we assume was some sort of check by the system to see if there was any media in it.
Other connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, which you can use for hooking up to a wireless stereo system or headphones, and there is dual-band, 802.11ac Wi-Fi (an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 module), which you can use to connect up to the latest AC routers for fast wireless transfers.
A brushed aluminium look is given to the palm rest and keyboard tray, and it’s one piece, which adds to the sturdiness of the unit. Indeed, the backlit keyboard on this notebook doesn’t bounce during heavy typing sessions, even though it’s spread across the entire width of the chassis thanks to its number pad. The keys have a soft resistance and a slightly mushy impact after a reasonable travel distance; they are mostly comfortable to hit for long periods of time and they aren’t loud. Their finish is a little too smooth for our liking, though, which can make them feel slippery.
The touchpad is a large size and it’s a clickpad in which the left- and right-click buttons are located under the pad itself. We found it to be accurate in our tests, and we didn’t have any issues while using its multi-finger gestures (three-finger flicks, two-finger scrolling, and two-finger taps), nor its Windows 8 swipe-in gestures. When used with the native resolution of the screen, however, it was tiring, mainly because it took about three movements to get the pointer from one side of the screen to the other. In that scenario, we think you’ll have to either adjust the settings to make it traverse the screen faster, or use a mouse instead.
If you use a mouse on the right side of the laptop, be sure to move it a few centimetres below the line of the air vent, which has a fan that can pump out of a lot of warm air while the notebook is under a mid-to-heavy processing load. The fan also tends to get loud in those situations, which can be bothersome in a quiet environment.
The reason the laptop gets so warm is because it houses an Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, which is a full-voltage processor rather than an ultra-low voltage model that's usually found in laptops, and it also makes use of discrete AMD Radeon R9 M265X graphics. Rounding out the configuration is 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and a 1TB hybrid hard drive that has an 8GB solid state drive (SSD) for caching purposes.
We found the notebook to be satisfyingly fast. In Blender 3D, it recorded a time of just 19sec (which is around about the fastest it gets for a laptop in this test), while in HandBrake, it took only 9min 39sec to turn a DVD (.vob) file into an MP4 (an Ultrabook takes over 20min, for example). The graphics performance was solid in 3DMark, with the laptop recording a score of 1833 in the high-end Fire Strike test, and 9416 in the mid-range Cloud Gate test. The laptop can be used for a bit of gaming, but, of course, you’ll have to use a much lower resolution than the native.
Storage is by way of a 1TB Toshiba hybrid drive, which aims to offer a compromise between high capacity and swift program-launching and booting. We’re disappointed that a laptop of this class doesn’t have a true SSD installed, but at the same time recognise the need for the high capacity that’s required for making use of 4K files. In any case, the drive put up reasonable results in CrystalDiskMark, with a sequential read speed of 144 megabytes per second (MBps), and a write speed of 83MBps. We expected a little more from this drive considering the same drive is in the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series laptop that we recently reviewed. That drive got a read speed of 177MBps, and a write speed of 99MBps. The Satellite’s cold boot time was 13sec (the time it took to boot to the login screen), and it’s set to go to the Desktop screen by default once you log in.
Battery life isn’t great on this laptop, which we expected due to the use of the 4K screen and a full-voltage Core i7 CPU. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness, and loop a video file, the Satellite P50t lasted only 2hr 17min. It’s a shame because as far as 15.6in laptops go, the footprint of the Satellite P50t is a quite compact, and it weighs 2.38kg, which isn’t heavy for such a fully featured model. It’s good for transporting to and from the office, at least.
The Toshiba Satellite P50t is positioned primarily at the early adopter, or those of you who need a portable machine with which to work on 4K video files. It’s a solid computer that offers good quickness and plenty of built-in features, and its screen is definitely splendid. The only problems are the reflections that come off the screen, which can make for an annoying viewing experience, and the poor battery life, which can limit the unit’s mobility. We also wish it had faster storage, but that would mean a lot less space for storing 4K video files.
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