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
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.
Score in detail
Battery Life 7