Toshiba is pitting its Satellite C series of laptops as its most affordable touchscreen laptops to date. While the C50 lacks some of the more advanced multimedia features of the company's recently revealed Satellite S, L and P models, the sub-£300 asking price is the real draw here.
The machine isn't much of a looker, swamped in a matte black finish that does little to project any personality. It bears Toshiba's Satellite logo on the bottom left hand corner and positions the power button in the top right to keep things consistent with other laptops in the series. Its body tended to attract fingerprints like beehives attract bears, so expect to be rubbing it on jumpers fairly frequently.
The C50 is available in two screen configurations, those being a 15.6-inch (1366x768 pixel resolution) HD display or a 17.3-inch HD+ display (1600x900 pixel resolution), in addition to touch or non-touch options. Our demo model toted the former configuration, and while it's far from the highest resolution available on a laptop of this size at the moment, colours looked suitably vivid, and we failed to detect any noticeable areas of grain.
The build quality of the display itself left much to be desired, with a weak hinge that resulted in wobbling after being prised open, an operation that required two hands. We also managed to bend the C50's base, which is made of plastic, without too much trouble.
We weren't too impressed with the C50's keyboard, either, which positions keys closer together than on higher end laptops and ultrabooks in order to cram a numberpad on the right hand side. If you're a fan of big space bars then this device isn't for you.
Though responsive, the trackpad errs on cramped and gave an underwhelming click when pressed, as did its buttons. Users would be better off investing in a mouse and using the 10-point touchscreen to navigate around Windows 8, which is the only OS on offer with the model.
The C50 misses out on new Haswell CPU and is being shipped with Intel's 3rd Generation Celeron, Pentium, or Core processors. It is, however, capable of ramping up the graphics beyond the Intel HD 4000 to a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT740M with up to 2GB VRAM. Storage options are more limited, with a 1TB HDD being the only available configuration.
We were unable to put it fully through its paces in the short time we had it, but the C50 zipped around Windows 8's standard menus and Modern UI without signs of slowdown. Connectivity options are present in the form of v/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI out and optional Bluetooth v4.0.
Toshiba has also refreshed its mid-range L series laptops to offer Intel's Haswell CPU. The L50 comes with a choice of shared Intel HD 4000 graphics or dedicated NVIDIA graphics up to GeForce GT 740M with up to 2GB RAM. It's offered with a choice of a HD or HD+ display, along with optional 10-finger touch capability. You can also opt for a matte finish if you're not keen on the default glossy panel.
We found the L50's general appearance and build quality preferable to the C50, from the slightly larger and more solid feeling trackpad to its comparitively spacious keyboard. if you're looking for a budget offering, the C50 would be the first choice, but if you have a little bit more to spend, the L50 is worth your consideration.
Both the C50 and L50 are available from Q2 2013, with configurations starting at £299.