Toshiba Satellite Pro R50-B-12U review
Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U, RAM: 4GB, Size: 379x258x24mm, Weight: 2.3kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 4400, Total storage: 500GB hard disk
With Windows 8 continuing to alienate businesses and their employees, many laptop manufacturers are sticking with Windows 7 on their business laptops instead of loading them with the latest operating system. Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates until 2020, so you don't have to worry about being out of date for at least six years.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro R50B is a budget business laptop in a rugged-feeling chassis. It's completely black, with the lid and wrist rest coated in a corrugated plastic. It looks understated but feels well built, and there's plenty of room for the full-size keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard has island-style keys, which are fairly comfortable to type on, although we would have liked a little more tactile feedback and travel. All the important keys are of a good size, with the number pad slightly squashed in order to give the main keys room to breathe. The touchpad is responsive, although the physical mouse buttons have a very small amount of travel, meaning they're not particularly pleasant to click on.
You get 500GB of mechanical hard disk storage, which should be enough for most users. We were also happy to see that the wireless chip supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which allows for faster and more reliable connections to the latest 5GHz routers.
There’s a gigabit Ethernet port and a USB2 connector on the left edge of the impressively thin chassis, along with a DVD drive, which is a rarity among thinner laptops. On the right there are two high-speed USB3 connectors and the obligatory VGA and HDMI ports for connecting to an external monitor or projector.
You may want to connect to an external monitor when you're stationed at a desk, because the Satellite Pro R50B only has a 1,366x768 resolution display, making having multiple windows open side-by-side a bit of a challenge. The panel is an average performer, managing to display 65 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. It's a bright screen, putting out 228cd/m2 of light. Combined with a matt screen coating, it should be suitable for outdoor use, or near a window where there's lots of natural light. Contrast is a low 274:1, meaning it's not really suitable for looking at detailed or dark photographs or videos.
The Satellite Pro R50B uses a 1.9GHz, dual-core Intel Core i5-4210U processor with hyperthreading, meaning it splits its two physical cores into four virtual ones to make better use of multi-threaded applications. It can also turbo boost to 2.7GHz when thermal conditions allow for it. It's a competent CPU, scoring 39 for photo conversion, 45 for video editing and 44 for multitasking in our multimedia benchmarks, meaning it'll easy handle basic business and productivity programs without much fuss. It'll also play HD videos and load media-heavy web pages with ease. Under normal usage conditions the Satellite R50B runs quietly and remains cool; even under load, the intake fans aren't in any way intrusive, and the keyboard tray remains comfortably cool.
There's no dedicated graphics card in this serious business laptop, meaning gaming is almost completely off the table. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU is capable of playing older and more simple games, but it won't handle newer 3D games on decent texture and resolution settings. It managed 18fps in our Dirt Showdown benchmark at 1,280x720 pixel resolution and High graphics settings, although dropping it to Low increased performance to 32fps. Low settings at this resolution aren't particularly attractive, though, so if games are a high priority, you’ll have to spend a little more on a laptop with a discrete graphics card.
Battery life was good, going from a full charge to empty in 6 hours 17 minutes in our light usage test. While you will want to take the lightweight charger with you if you're heading out and about, you won't find yourself worrying about the laptop shutting down if you're going off-grid for a few hours.
There are a few pre-installed programs, but none of them are intrusive and they're easy to get rid of. McAfee Internet Security is pre-loaded, as is Evernote, Spotify and a long list of Toshiba-branded tools that vary in usefulness. These include an application that lets you know if your hard disk has experienced a vibration, cheerily telling you that it's moved the hard disk's head to a safe position in order to protect it. A notification popped up every time we picked up the laptop, but these warnings are easy to turn off.
Overall, we're happy with the Toshiba Satellite Pro R50B. It offers good performance and sturdy build in a robust, plain chassis that doesn't stand out from the crowd. It does the basics well and while it may not set the pulse racing, it's good enough for any basic business and home uses. If you want something a little more exciting, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated graphics card, yet costs a little less.
|Processor||Dual-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U|
|Memory slots (free)||1(1)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Graphics outputs||VGA, DVI|
|Total storage||500GB hard disk|
|Optical drive type||DVD-RW|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||2x USB3, 1x USB2|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, gigabit Ethernet|
|Memory card reader||SD, MMC, SDHC, SDXC|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||One-year RTB|
|Price inc VAT||£558|