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Review : Toshiba Satellite L50-B

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Put the Toshiba Satellite L50-B in a retail store among other laptops and it is likely to be overlooked by most window shoppers.

After all, while slim for a 15.6-inch laptop, it does not look particularly striking. The best thing about its design is that its glossy finish appears resistant to smudges.

 

But turn up the volume on this laptop and you will be surprised at how loud it can get.

To jazz up the Satellite, Toshiba hooked up with headphone maker Skullcandy. The Satellite's stereo speakers are tuned to Skullcandy's audio standards while a custom sound profile optimised for Skullcandy headphones and external speakers is integrated in the laptop.

This allows Toshiba to use the Skullcandy branding, the same way that HP has marketed its Beats Audio-enhanced PCs. Skullcandy's audio products are popular with action sports enthusiasts but there is little in the Satellite's design to suggest that it is targeting the same crowd.

Personally, I found watching action movies on the Satellite to be more visceral because it is so loud.

This laptop is more suited for a single viewer. While its 15.6-inch screen is large enough for three or more viewers, it does not employ in-plane switching (IPS) technology and the viewing angles are not good. Colours appear less vivid from the sides and the problem is exacerbated by a glossy and reflective screen.

The Satellite's AMD Radeon R7 M260 graphics card is a lower mid-range model that is adequate only if you intend to run games at modest settings. It automatically switches to the more power-efficient integrated graphics chip when not running a graphically intensive app.

The sides of this laptop are slightly curved, which helps with the thin and light impression. But the curvature also makes it difficult to locate the eject button for its slim DVD internal drive. I had to lift up the laptop from the desk to find the button the first time round.

I am not a fan of the Satellite's touchpad. It is too stiff, making it difficult to press down. It was not very responsive when I tried to execute edge-swipe gestures in Windows 8.1.

The Satellite lasted just 4.5 hours in our battery life test, which is not surprising for a laptop of its size. Remember, it is more of a desktop replacement.

TECH SPECS

Price: $1,349

Processor: Intel Core i7-4510U (2GHz)

Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M260 2GB DDR3

RAM: 4GB

Screen size: 15.6 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels

Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, headphone and microphone combo jack

Battery: 45 watt-hour


RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Battery life: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

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