Based on past experience with the Harman Kardon speakers in Toshiba machines (laptops such as the Satellite A660 and even netbooks like the NB550), it's a pretty safe assumption that the audio quality on this Satellite P750 will be decent - and as it turns out, that is indeed the case. While it's certainly not the best-sounding laptop we've heard from the company, its stereo speakers produce plenty of volume, clarity and depth, accompanied by more bass than many rivals. As portable audio experiences go this Satellite is pretty good, and headphones are not required.
Unfortunately we can't predict good things about the 15.6in, 1,366 x 768 screen, so let's see how it holds up. First off, there's a major positive, in that Toshiba has resisted applying any kind of glossy coating. This makes the display a pleasure to work with even in bright environments, with nary a reflection on the horizon (or the screen).
However, upon assessing the quality of the actual panel, we were sorely disappointed. Naturally we weren't expecting anything on a level with the Lenovo X1's beautiful IPS screen, but the Samsung Series 9 has shown how good TN-based laptop panels can be. Unfortunately, the performance of this Satellite is actually below average.
First there are the viewing angles, which are abysmal vertically but also don't hold up too well horizontally, with some contrast and colour shift creeping in. Contrast is likewise poor, and this is the first laptop screen we've seen in quite some time that fails to differentiate between three of the darkest greyshades, meaning you'll potentially lose out on significant dark detailing in movies and games. Even at the lowest brightness settings, blacks are never truly black, lending things a somewhat washed-out look. Nor does this bring any benefit to lighter shades, which are even less distinguishable. There's some significant banding over darker shades, too.
Back to positives, backlighting is even and there's no visible bleed, while sharpness is excellent. In fact, the screen would be fine if this were a business machine intended for productivity. As an entertainment laptop, however, its screen's characteristics are far from ideal.
Last but not least, how long will this Toshiba last you away from a socket? Battery life from the 48Wh unit supplied with the laptop was actually very decent considering the power-hungry quad-core CPU, with it managing three hours and 22 minutes in our non-intensive Productivity test, with screen brightness set to 40 percent.
Unfortunately, the laptop's sub-par screen puts a bit of a dent in the P750-115's value proposition compared to similarly priced competitors. Getting a fast Core i7 quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, Nvidia GT540M graphics and a Blu-ray drive for under £1,000 is otherwise a decent deal, especially since it's all built into a fairly sturdy chassis with good ergonomics and great speakers.
However, for just £10 more you can get a Sandy Bridge version of the Dell XPS 15, which offers exactly the same specifications but includes a brushed aluminium lid, better connectivity, runs quieter, is more configurable and – above all – has a better screen.
If you're looking for something a little easier on the wallet, don't mind a machine that's less portable and don't need all that RAM, the Samsung RF711 is also a strong contender. Specifications are similar though the system and graphics memory are halved, but you do get a faster, larger RAID hard drive array with a capacity of 1TB, as well as a larger, better, higher-resolution 17.3in screen, all for £180 less.
A well-built multimedia and gaming laptop with good specifications, comfortable ergonomics and impressive speakers, Toshiba's Satellite P750-115 is really let down by its poor screen. Because of this there are better options available at its price point, though for those mainly using external displays it's still well worth considering.