A great-value portable laptop with a good screen and dedicated graphics, but it feels very fragile
Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 4210U, RAM: 8GB, Size: 380×261.9×19.9mm, Weight: 2.1kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Graphics adaptor: AMD Radeon R7 M260, Total storage: 128GB SSD
Sensible business laptops are Toshiba’s bread and butter, so we had high expectations for the Satellite S50-B-14P. We’ve previously reviewed the Toshiba S50T-B-10H, and we were pleased with its looks and performance but very disappointed with its non-Full HD touch screen. For the S50-B-14P, Toshiba has swapped out the touch-sensitive panel, equipped the laptop with a Full HD screen and dropped the Intel Core i7 processor for an i5 chip. All this results in a laptop costing nearly £200 less but looking much more attractive on paper.
Unlike many desktop replacement laptops on the market, the Satellite S50-B-14P is both thin and relatively light. This does come at the expense of an optical drive, but if you’re not a heavy DVD or CD user this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. At just 2.08kg it’s one of the lighter desktop replacements we’ve tested, and at just 2cm tall it’s more than a third thinner than most of the bulky machines we’ve had on test. In other words, this desktop replacement can easily double up as a portable machine if you want to pick it up and take it out.
It’s made from brushed aluminium-style plastic, which looks great from a distance but does feel slightly cheap: the lid in particular is surprisingly flexible. The wrist rest and keyboard tray feel a little more solid, and the keys are satisfying to use despite their lack of travel and bounce. They’re quiet, grippy and comfortable and we found it very easy to build up to quick typing speeds, with no missed key presses. The touchpad is nice and responsive, too, making the Satellite S50-B-14P a effective laptop for working on while on the move. We were concerned by a rather large and unsightly gap that appeared between the chassis and the touchpad, as well as a very loose panel between the two screen hinges. These, plus the flexible lid, make us wonder whether this laptop can survive the rigors of life being shoved into bags and dropped onto desks.
A Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB2 port are on the left edge of the chassis while two USB3 connectors, a 3.5mm headset port and a full-size HDMI output can be found on the right. There’s also a card reader set into the curve under the front of the chassis. Inside, there’s a 128GB SSD instead of the 1TB mechanical hard disk seen in the S50T-B-10H. For some this may be problem because once it’s been partitioned and had Windows 8.1 installed on it, there’s just under 60GB of space remaining. We’d have liked to have seen a mechanical hard disk, for storage, as well.
The speakers aren’t up to much, despite their Harman Kardon branding. Music and speech sound messy, with the built-in audio “enhancements” constantly messing with the sound balance, trying to bring out speech, then bass, the midtones seemingly at random. It makes for a confusing and unsatisfying experience.
|Processor||1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 4210U|
|Memory slots (free)||2 (1)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||AMD Radeon R7 M260|
|Total storage||128GB SSD|
|Optical drive type||None|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||1x USB2, 2x USB3|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet|
|Memory card reader||SD, MMC|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Windows 8 restore|
|Parts and labour warranty||One-year collect and return|
|Price inc VAT||£630|