Toshiba Satellite P50T (A-125) review

Toshiba Satellite P50T

The Toshiba Satellite P50T (A-125) laptop weighs in at a full 2.6Kg, which is above average even for a 15.6-inch model with a built-in optical drive, so you probably won't be carrying it around in your backpack very often. However, it does include pretty much everything you need to use it as part of your home entertainment system. (See - Group test: what's the best laptop for under £1,000?)

The centerpiece is that large display, which provides full 1920x1080 resolution and a bright, colourful image that works well for watching video, browsing the web or your photo collection. Its viewing angles could be better, though, especially the vertical viewing angle where the image darkens quite quickly when you start to tilt the screen back. The screen is touch-sensitive, but we'd happily exchange that feature for better viewing angles. (Take a look at The 18 best laptops: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2013/2014?)

The Harmon Kardon speakers work a treat, though, producing – by laptop standards – very respectable bass output and an attractive, warm sound on higher frequencies. Our review unit also included a Blu-ray player for high-def films, and you've got a choice of VGA, HDMI and Intel's WiDi (Wireless Display) if you want to hook it up to a larger screen. The HDMI port even supports Ultra HD (3840x2160) output in case you get the urge to buy one of Toshiba's Ultra HD TVs this Christmas.

Build quality is good, as you'd expect from such a weighty machine, and the silvery aluminium chassis looks smart whilst also providing good support for that large screen panel. The keyboard is firm and comfortable, and the large multi-touch trackpad (105x60mm) makes it easy to scroll through web pages or to zoom in and out on photos.

Prices for the P50T range start at £799.00 for a model with a quad-core Haswell i7 running at 2.4GHz (3.4GHz with Turboboost), 8GB memory and 1TB hard drive, but with no Blu-ray drive and only Intel HD 4600 integrated graphics. However, we reviewed the top-of-the-range model that costs £999.00 with 12GB memory, Blu-ray drive, and a discrete nVidia GeForce GT 740M.

The large hard drive provides plenty of room for storing music, photos and videos, but its 5400rpm drive mechanism does hinder performance. The P50T only achieves a score of 3200 when running the general-purpose PCMark 7 benchtest – a score that is easily beaten by, well, pretty much anything that has a solid-state drive. It also takes a leisurely 45 seconds to cold-boot into the Start screen, although that is reduced to 20 seconds if you use the Windows 8 ‘fast start' option.

Toshiba Satellite P50T (A-125)

And, once it's got itself going, that i7 processor and 12GB of RAM provide more than enough power to handle even demanding multimedia work, such as video-editing or audio recording. And while the P50T isn't designed as a dedicated gaming rig, its GT 740M graphics card was able to manage a playable 35fps when running Stalker at 1920x1080 with medium graphics settings, and a smooth 64.6fps at 1280x720.

The cooling fan did emit a low but steady hum during our gaming tests, though, as well as emitting a steady stream of warm air from the vent on the right-hand side of the machine. The P50T didn't become uncomfortably hot at any time, but you'll need to keep that vent clear and well-ventilated while you're using it.

Battery life isn't particularly impressive either, providing just three hours (180 mins) of streaming video even when you switch to the integrated graphics. However, a laptop of this size and weight isn't likely to stray outdoors very often, so that's unlikely to be a dealbreaker for many people.

Toshiba Satellite P50T (A-125): Specs

  • Specification: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ (3.4GHz Turbo)
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 12GB DDR3L RAM
  • 1TB HD (5400rpm)
  • 15.6-inch LED with 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel HD 4600/GeForce GT 740M (2GB)
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Intel WiDi
  • 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC
  • 2.0MP webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket, microphone socket
  • 43Wh Lithium-Ion battery
  • 377x244x30mm
  • 2.6Kg
  • Specification: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ (3.4GHz Turbo)
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 12GB DDR3L RAM
  • 1TB HD (5400rpm)
  • 15.6-inch LED with 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel HD 4600/GeForce GT 740M (2GB)
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Intel WiDi
  • 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC
  • 2.0MP webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket, microphone socket
  • 43Wh Lithium-Ion battery
  • 377x244x30mm
  • 2.6Kg

OUR VERDICT

It's a shame that the P50T is let down by its ageing hard drive, as this hinders performance of its otherwise powerful Haswell processor and nVidia graphics card. However, it's still an attractive multimedia laptop that will earn its keep for watching video or playing music at home, as well as providing enough power, memory and storage to handle video-editing and other multimedia applications.

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