We're pleased to see that companies like Toshiba haven't abandoned traditional laptops in favour of Intel-funded Ultrabooks. Its Satellite P70 does plenty that Ultrabooks simply can't manage, and it makes a strong start with a stunning screen. See all laptops buying advice.
The 17in panel is still the cheaper TN technology but has a full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and tests with an X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter revealed great quality. The measured brightness of 332 cd/m2 makes for a searing maximum brightness level, and colours are accurate and punchy: the average delta E of 2.5 is excellent, and the measured gamma level of 2.11 isn't far off the ideal figure of 2.
The contrast ratio of 613:1 isn't the best we've seen, though, and it's caused by a slightly high minimum black level of 0.54 cd/m2. It means it's occasionally tricky to distinguish between the deepest black shades – a minor problem that's only noticeable during the darkest movies or games. Despite this – and the non-touch-senstivie, glossy finish – this excellent screen is more than capable of making movies, games and the web look superb.
The Toshiba's media credentials are further enhanced by reasonable speakers. The quartet of harmon/kardon audio units are among the loudest we've heard on a laptop, and more than capable of filling a room. The treble and high-end sounds are well-balanced and don't sound too tinny, but they still overpower the bass, which is a little weak. See also: best laptop of 2013.
Toshiba Satellite P70: Haswell chip, impressive performance
The star on the inside is one of Intel's latest Haswell processors. The Core i7-4700MQ has four Hyper-Threaded cores clocked to 2.4GHz, and one of those is capable of using Turbo Boost to reach 3.4GHz. The Toshiba also has 16GB of RAM – a huge amount for a laptop.
The processor scored an impressive 4246 points in PCMark 7 – enough power to handle intensive applications. The processor is paired with a GeForce GT 745M, a mid-range nVidia graphics processor. It averaged 86 fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat at 1280 x 720 resolution and Medium quality settings, and this score dropped to a still-playable 42 fps when we upped the resolution and quality level to 1920 x 1080 and Ultra.
The rest of the specification is mixed. We like the Blu-ray writer, and the pair of hard disks – one with an 8GB solid-state cache – provide 2TB of storage between them. We expect gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth 4, but there's no excuse for 2.4GHz-only single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi in a machine at this price.
The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a solid base and a comfortable, snappy typing action, while the Toshiba's sheer size means there's room for a number pad and full-sized keys. The touchpad is good: large, smooth, and with support for Windows 8's gestures.
Little stands out about this expensive machine's exterior. The brushed aluminium finish looks reasonable, but we don't like the visible seals around the edges, nor the slight flexing when we pressed the base and the wrist-rest. It's not exactly portable, either, at 34.1 mm thick and 3 kg in weight.
A panel on the base grants access to the two 2.5in hard disk bays, two memory slots and the wireless card, and they're all occupied. The port selection is ordinary: four USB 3 sockets, VGA and HDMI outputs, an SD card reader and a couple of headphone jacks.
Battery life isn't much to shout about, either – this large machine has a small, removable power pack in its base, and it lasted for 2 hours 43 minutes in our looping video battery test. It's belo- average result that won't see the Toshiba lasting too long off the mains. Take a look at Tested: best laptops with Intel's 4th-gen Core 'Haswell' processors.