So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Toshiba Satellite P750 (PSAY3A-02T001) 15.6in laptop
Toshiba Satellite P750 review: A stylish all-rounder with good features and a reasonable price tag
- Good all-round performance
- Digital TV tuner
- USB 3.0
- Keyboard not backlit
- Unnecessary lighting
- Screen could be better
The Satellite P750 is a good all-rounder. You can use it as a media centre, a gaming laptop or for boring old work and social media tasks. Its style is nice, but we hate some of its lighting; we also wish its keyboard was backlit.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
The 2.6kg, 15.6in Toshiba Satellite P750 (PSAY3A-02T001) is designed for home users who want a good value and stylish laptop that can be used for office work and entertainment. It ships with a large range of features and has a configuration that supplies swift all-round performance.
Specifications and performance
With an Intel Core i5-2410M CPU running the show, 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, a 750GB (5400rpm) hard drive and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics adapter (with Optimus switching technology), the Satellite P750 is not a slouch. It recorded a time of 44sec in our Blender 3D rendering test, 55sec in our iTunes MP3 encoding test, and 53min in our DVD-to-Xvid transcoding test. These results are on par with what we have seen from other notebooks with similar configurations, such as Toshiba's own Satellite L750, and MSI's CR640.
Its hard drive performance was slow in our transfer tests, notching up a rate of only 22.79 megabytes per second. We were expecting at least 27MBps. Nevertheless, this didn't seem to affect the overall performance of the unit in our tests, and it didn't feel sluggish during everyday usage. Toshiba includes a motion sensor that can detect when the laptop gets bumped and parks the drive's heads so that the disk doesn't get damaged.
One area in which the Satellite P750 is impressive is graphics processing. It recorded a score of 8794 in 3DMark06, which is excellent for an inexpensive laptop and it means that it can definitely be used for gaming. If you're into WoW, StarCraft2, Portal 2, car racing games and sports games, the Satellite P750 will have very little trouble running them smoothly at the screen's native resolution of 1366x768. However, more taxing games such as first-person shooters may require a lower resolution and lowering of graphics details in order to run at playable frame rates.
Design user comfort
As for style, the Satellite P750 has lots of it and it's actually one of the more interesting inexpensive models to look at. It has a brushed plastic palmrest and lid design and a classy grey and black colour scheme. However, it also has annoyingly bright status lights and some highlights that can't be switched off (the white highlight on the touchpad can only be switched off by disabling the touchpad). These are a pain when using the notebook at night.
There are speakers above the keyboard that provide decent sound for YouTube videos and online radio, for example, but if you want to really fill up a room you'll have to plug in a set of amplified speakers. We're not fans of the feather-touch buttons for the volume, media playback and wireless toggling, as you can't always be sure that a touch has registered.
The chicklet keyboard isn't backlit, but it has full-sized keys that have a smooth finish and it includes a proper number pad and distinguishable arrow keys. We're happy with the keys' travel and response overall, except for the space bar, which feels a little too 'spongey' and requires a harder hit in order to leave a space. The touchpad is of a good size (99x49mm) and it supports multi-finger gestures. However, it does feel a little rough and at times during our tests it was unresponsive. Its big left- and right-click buttons are a little stiff, too — we'd prefer softer and easier to press buttons.
We like the build quality of the Satellite P750 overall; it has decent rigidity and it didn't creak at all when picked up from the edges or when its screen was moved back and forth. Its screen is glossy, which can be annoying, and it's not of great quality overall (the colour on ours was a little too yellow). It is fine for viewing photos and browsing the Web, but it's not great for watching movies.
If you want to watch movies, and even TV, you're better off plugging it in to a big-screen TV. It comes with an HDMI port, and it also has a digital TV tuner and a full-sized antenna port. This means you can use the Satellite as a media centre and record shows onto the roomy hard drive and play them back at your leisure (you'll need to get a remote control though).
In addition to the HDMI and antenna ports, the edges of the chassis contain four USB ports (one of them a USB 3.0 port) and they support Sleep-and-Charge technology, which allows you to charge USB devices even when the laptop is switched off; you also get a VGA port, headphone and microphone ports, an SD card reader and Gigabit Ethernet. You also get a webcam, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (single-band, 2.4GHz).
Even though the P750 is fairly large, it feels well balanced and not overly heavy when you pick it up. You can use it on your lap for a while without it being too uncomfortable, and it has decent battery life, which allows you to take it out to your backyard or balcony to watch a movie. In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded file, it lasted 2hr 7min (this is with Optimus switching to the integrated Intel graphics). If you turn down the brightness and just use the Internet or Word processing programs, it will last even longer, and even longer still if you enable Eco mode.
All up, the Satellite P750 is a very good laptop for users who want to do a bit of everything: it'll run games, allow you to watch and record TV, it's useful for photo and video editing and it won't have any problems running typical office software. We just wish it had a better screen, that is wasn't as glossy, and that it came with more understated lighting.
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