We recently looked at the HP Envy Touchsmart 15: a powerful £1,000 laptop let down by an unimpressive screen and an iffy keyboard, but otherwise a solid performer and good value. Well, the Toshiba Satellite P50t-A-10U comes at the same price with virtually identical specifications - right down to the Intel i7 4700MQ processor, 16GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce GT740M graphics card, so can it avoid the Envy’s missteps to eclipse its 7/10 review?
Like the Envy, this is a desktop substitute: ostensibly portable, but sufficiently bulky and high spec enough to be the main computer in your life. So is it up to the task?
The Satellite P50t-A-10U feels extremely solid, as you’d expect from a 2.6kg, 15.6-inch laptop. It’s perhaps a little more old-school in its design than recent laptops that we’ve looked at, with a brushed aluminum curved case on top, and a plastic underside. The Toshiba logo is the only mark on the top of the case, though this minimalist design is undermined by its underside which is a mess of warning texts and specification labels.
Opening it up presents a well spaced out keyboard with full number pad and a large, slightly offset trackpad. The keyboard sits on a slightly indented section of the laptop’s body, which looks stylish. There’s also a large speaker area between the keyboard and screen with the Harman Kardon logo proudly embossed underneath the power button.
Along the sides, the laptop manages to pack in a fair amount around its 30.15 millimetre height including four USB slots (2 x 2.0, 2 x 3.0), an ethernet port, an HDMI out port, an SD card reader, a VGA out port, a headphone jack, a microphone jack and a DVD drive. We hadn’t seen an optical drive on a laptop in quite some time, which was a pleasant surprise, even if we don’t use them much anymore.
The screen, though a nice high resolution of 1920x1080, lacks sharpness with icons appearing slightly muddy and blurred when viewed up close. Like many less impressive touchscreens, the whole display has a distracting mesh quality to it, which can be quite tiring when viewed for extended periods. The brightness at its top level is acceptable, but nothing to write home about, and the colours feel slightly washed out as well.
On the bright side, its viewing angles are pretty good, with text clearly readable from all angles - including those which would actually be impractical to work from. As a touch screen, the large viewing area really helps too, with less chance of the kind of butter-fingered fiddly mistakes it’s all too easy to make on smaller screened laptops and tablets.