31 March 2016

REVIEW: Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G

In orbit.

Need a workhorse Windows laptop that is neither a blow to the eyes nor to the pocket? We've been out and about testing such a machine, with slightly mixed results. We review the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G laptop.

What we have here is what some of you might consider a budget laptop, weighing in as it does on your bank account at around £400 (at time of press). The machine, which features a 15.6 inch screen, comes preinstalled with Windows 8.1, meaning you'll have to (should you wish) download and install Windows 10 yourself on start up. Regardless of what operating system you decide on, the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G will run it with a respectable 8GBof RAM and AMD's Carrizo-based A10-8700P APU.

First up, we need to talk about the display. For a laptop of this size and specs we found the screen to be a big disappointment. It isn't that the 1366 x 768 resolution display was overly poor in any way, and certainly everything we did on the laptop, from creating Word documents to watching Netflix, looked okay. It's just that we expected more from Toshiba, especially on a device as well powered as this.

Still, we think that is something that only some people will be bothered about, as everything else about the running of the laptop was fine. The 8GB RAM clearly works well in conjunction with the quad-core processor, and the only indication that the machine was tackling the heavy workload we threw at it, was the sound of the fan kicking in. Online gaming, video steaming, multiple open web pages; all worked well and without incident.

Whereas the picture quality might have disappointed us slightly, the sound quality certainly didn't. The Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G's speakers have been tweaked by the people at Skullcandy, making them surprisingly good despite their apparent small size. Laptop speakers are never going to blow anyone away (there's a reason laptops come with Bluetooth and headphone ports), but these were clear and rich, providing good accompaniment to a video.

In terms of physicality, the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G is not the lightest laptop at 2.2 kg, nor is it the thinnest with a closed-lid height of 2.3cm. Still, the keyboard is nice and wide, with a numeric keypad to the right and a trackpad centred below the letter keys. The palm rest areas either side of the trackpad are smooth and flat, although their edges are a little sharp, especially at the corners. That said, typing for prolonged periods on the laptop is quite comfortable once you get used to the relatively wide spacing of the keys.

In terms of connectivity, the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G boasts two USB 3.0 ports, as well as a standard USB 2.0 on the other side. There is an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and also a slot for a SD Card as well as a headphone jack. Oh, and it has an optical drive. Yes, an actual, physical optical drive that pops out of the right side of the laptop. For CDs and DVDs. You remember those, right? The drive is actually the most surprising thing about the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G, as we genuinely were not expecting that – not from a laptop released in 2015.

It was quite refreshing to have access to an optical drive for the first time in a few years, if only to watch all that CD-ROM porn we burnt in 2004. Joke. Still, if you do miss the days of whirling drives and pop out disk trays, it seems they are (at least according to Toshiba) back once more.

Look! It pops out, 90s style!
If you think £400 is a tad steep for a 15.4 inch machine with a 1366 x 768 display... well, it is. But despite that the Toshiba Satellite L50D-C-13G is well powered and impressed us with a battery life that approached six hours, even with medium use. The internal specs of the laptop are fine, and if you're looking for something to handle a few heavy jobs (without taking it very far from home) this could be your new machine. Plus you know, CDs baby!

Around £400

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