Toshiba Satellite U50t review

Aggressively priced for an Ultrabook, but corners have been cut

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The appeal here is clear enough. Sub-£700 for an Ultrabook that meets Intel's 2013 Haswell specs is a very attractive proposition, such are the stringencies involved.

That it's all delivered in a 15.6 package could be very attractive, too, if you're looking for something for daily use and with less of an eye on portability. But does it all add up?

We liked

The Toshiba Satellite U50t-A-10F looks slick. It feels slick. As a physical object, it is slick. And robust, to boot. It's not in MacBook Pro territory for sheer lushness, but then it's not priced like a MacBook either.

In terms of CPU performance, we've no complaints either. The Intel Core i5 chip simply gets the job done. Battery life is another positive, especially at this price point – we can probably thank the Ultrabook minimum specs for that.

Moreover, the general feature set ticks most of our boxes. There's touchscreen capability to make the most of Windows 8.1, sufficient ports, connectivity and card readers for most needs and a screen that's big enough to use as a daily work horse rather than a pint-sized portable for occasion use on the road.

We disliked

First up, the screen. It's nothing short of appalling in this day and age. The stingy 1,366 by 768 pixel resolution we can live with as a compromise given the aggressive pricing. But the awful viewing angles, terrible contrast and washed-out image quality simply are not good enough. Toshiba needs to put a proper panel in this portable.

The performance of the hybrid storage is mediocre, too. Much of the time, performance is determined by the 5,400rpm magnetic time and that means it simply isn't in solid state territory.

If you're into gaming, you won't be wild about the graphics performance, either, even if proper gaming grunt is an entirely unreasonable expectation for this type of laptop at this price point.

Finally, the 2.4kg heft is a little portly for an Ultrabook. This isn't a system you just sling in a bag and forget about. You'll know you are carrying it about.

Final verdict

U50t A 10F

The Satellite U50t-A-10F: An odd mix of traditional Toshiba quality and occasional corner cutting

For the most part this is a nice portable given the price point. The promise of an affordable Ultrabook is mostly met. It looks and feels like a quality item, there's plenty of CPU performance and battery life.

But then there are the flaws. The screen is poor and the hard drive performance is a bit patchy. It's pretty heavy for an Ultrabook, too. But truly, it's that screen that breaks the deal. With a better LCD panel, there would be plenty to like.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributor

Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.