Toshiba Satellite P850-138 review

  • £600
  • $899

Handles entertainment well, but usability suffers

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For

  • Great performance
  • Connectivity
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Good graphics power

Against

  • Flex in keyboard
  • Keyboard feels cramped
  • Bloatware installed
  • Chunky screen bezel

We feel the Toshiba Satellite P850-138 works best as a light entertainment machine, and proves there's more to a laptop than simply which processor it's bundled with.

While the idea of paying £600 for a Core i3 machine might not appeal, the features and graphical muscle mean the Satellite P850 does, in fact, have plenty going for it.

Outwardly the brushed metal exterior is attractive, if not exactly revolutionary. Compared to some earlier Satellite models however, this new chassis is a definite improvement. We were also impressed to see that the cool metal remained that way even under heavy processing stress.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 166 minutes
Cinebench: 7,825
3DMark 2006: 8,534

Lift the lid and the black keyboard and chrome silver trim around the touchpad and speakers jump out at you. It feels like you have a lot of space thanks to a lack of hotkeys or large speaker grills.

The keyboard is, unfortunately, not a highlight of this machine. Although it's wide enough to include a numeric keypad, vertically, it feels a little cramped. We feel Toshiba could have extended it a bit and enlarged the Return and Backspace keys, both of which are smaller than we're used to.

There's a pretty noticeable flex in the centre of the keyboard and we're not sure it'll stand the test of time with seasoned typists.

Fully featured

As we said earlier, the Satellite P850 is more of an entertainment machine and features plenty of excellent features.

There are four USB ports, all of which are the faster USB 3.0 format. These ports also feature sleep-and-charge, meaning you can charge your smartphone with the Satellite P850 even when it's powered down.

The integrated Harman/kardon speakers are punchy and powerful and the 640GB hard drive features Toshiba HDD protection technology that shifts the position of the hard disk head when it detects vibration - keeping your data safe should you drop or knock the laptop.

Despite the aforementioned presence of a Core i3 chip, the Toshiba packs in 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT 630M dedicated graphics card. That combination means the Satellite is more than capable of handling gaming, editing and other power-crunching programs without breaking a sweat.

The 15.6-inch screen is bright and crisp, but suffers from a chunky black bezel which doesn't do it any favours. Along with the USB ports, you also have HDMI and VGA options for connecting the Satellite P850 to an external display, as well as a DVD RW drive for burning your own media and data discs.

We did notice that the Satellite P850 came with its fair share of bloatware and while this isn't a major grievance, it can be irritating for people who want their own custom setup.

In truth, it's hard to know where to stand with the Satellite P850. The price point bumps it out of budget territory and we feel that in a year or so, it could be suffering. However, the bonus of dedicated graphics, higher-than-average RAM and extra features like USB 3.0 and sleep-and-charge are excellent additions. All in all, a middle-of-the-road machine that is certainly worth checking out.