Toshiba’s Satellite P50W is aimed at those who want a full-sized, 15.6 inch laptop, but who don’t want to pay a full-sized price for the privilege. At just $1599 it’s substantially cheaper than many competing laptops in this size range, but Toshiba has had to make several compromises to get the price down so low, mostly regarding the internal components.
On the ﬂipside, it’s also included one major goodie missing from other laptops at this price range – a reversible touch screen. Thanks to the twin rotating hinges, it’s possible to convert the P50W into tent or tablet mode. In the latter, it’s one of the biggest tablets we’ve seen, thanks to the large 15.6 inch display, and thankfully all of the keys are disabled when in this mode. Unfortunately the shiny screen covering makes viewing the screen in tablet mode a little uncomfortable, as it acts like a giant mirror.
The backlighting also seems to work much better when the screen is viewed horizontally, not vertically, as there appears to be a dark band running down part of the screen when viewed vertically, that moves depending on the angle you view the screen from. However, it’s a small price to pay considering you’re getting a convertible at this price.
The touchscreen is nice and accurate, enabling us to easily resize windows just by dragging on their edges, and it’s a very good match for the Windows 8 OS that comes as standard on this laptop. This one feature will be enough to make the P50W a must-buy for some, and the inclusion of a Blu-ray burner makes it a killer movie viewer when placed in Tent mode. When not in tablet or tent mode, the P50W operates just like every other 15.6 inch laptop on the market.
Brushed aluminum covers the top rear and keyboard exterior, with rubberized plastic used on the other two surfaces. It looks like a premium product, even considering the large black border around the display; this is because the glass used to cover the display goes all the way to the edges of the top half, over the black display border. The backlit keyboard is excellent, and makes full use of the roomier dimensions offered by the 15.6 inch form factor. Interestingly, the keyboard is dropped slightly compared to where the user rests their wrists, which is a more ergonomic design than ﬂ at keyboards, as it mimics the action found when a raised wrist-rest s used. The touchpad is also nice and accurate, though the default acceleration options take a little getting used to.
Thankfully it’s just as easy to touch on the screen as it is to use the touchpad, though the screen does wobble a little when doing so, as the twin hinges aren’t quite stiff enough to prevent this. It’s a common issue with convertibles though, so we shouldn’t single out Toshiba’s efforts. Despite the glossy ﬁnish, we loved the IPS 1920 x 1080 panel that makes up the 15.6 display. Colors are rich and vivid, while contrast is punchy and distinguished. Overall it presents a very pretty picture, even to wide viewing angles thanks to the use of IPS technology. Given the excellent touchscreen and convertible nature of this laptop, you’re probably wondering how Toshiba managed to make it so affordable. The answer is simple – the internal specs of the machine aren’t quite up there with the likes of its competitors.
The heavy lifting is handled by an Intel Core i5-4210U CPU, a twin-cored, Hyper-Threaded critter with a base speed of 1.7GHz, and Turbo speed of 2.7GHz. It’s certainly no slouch, and Toshiba has wisely paired it with the full 8GB of DDR3 1600 that Windows 8 demands to operate well. Unfortunately the hardware falls down when it comes to storage, as the 1TB mechanical drive isn’t in the same league as SSDs. Thankfully it’s a hybrid drive though, which does indeed provide a substantial performance boost. Not enough to propel it from the middle of the pack in our Home benchmark, or last in the Office benchmark though. Battery life is also severely lacking compared to the rest. Despite the performance quibbles, the P50W offers functionality that the others lack, at a price point that is outstanding.
If you’re looking for a capable mainstream laptop that makes for a killer demo machine in tent mode, then look no further than the P50W.