Toshiba Satellite U50T review
Is this the best value 15in Ultrabook on the market?
Most Ultrabooks have small screens and limited native connectivity so they're not ideal for business use.
Toshiba's Satellite U50T aims to be the exception - featuring a 15in display, 21mm chassis and a comprehensive set of connections. Starting at 583.00 ex VAT (699.95 inc. VAT), Toshiba is also attempting to gain traction with a reasonable price point.
The build of the U50T is solid - there's a sturdy upper panel supporting the screen. The keyboard includes a numerical trackpad for data entry and is supported by a responsive trackpad.
At 2.4kg, the U50T isn't the lightest Ultrabook, but the weight is well balanced so that you can pick it up in one hand without difficulty.
Display And Connectivity
The 15.6in touchscreen provides plenty of room to work with in theory, but whilst the display produces an attractive, colourful image, the 1366 x 768 resolution looks dated and doesn't allow you to make the most of the available screen space. To compound this problem, viewing angles are limited.
Connectivity is where the Ultrabook beats its competitors. The U50T has a built in Gigabit Ethernet port saving the need to faff around with USB adaptors. It's also got a 2 x USB 3.0 ports for high-speed data transfer, 1 x USB 2 connection and a memory card slot.
A HDMI port allows the Ultrabook to be connected to a larger screen, and there's support for wireless streaming via WiDi and Miracast technology.
Toshiba also sells a number of accessories, including a desktop dock (80.00 ex VAT) and memory upgrades. The base of the unit can be removed to provide access to the memory, battery and hard drive, but you will need a screwdriver handy to removed the 12 screws.
Price & Performance
Toshiba offers two configurations for the U50T. Prices start at 524 ex.VAT (629.00 inc. VAT) for a model with a Haswell i3 processor, 4GB memory and 500GB hard disk.
We reviewed the U50T-A-10F model, which costs 583.00 ex.VAT (699.95 inc. VAT). This featured a dual-core Haswell i5 processor running at 1.6GHz, 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard disk. There's no option to upgrade to a higher resolution display, or to downgrade' to a conventional screen without touch-controls.
The i5 processor has a Turboboost option allowing it to step up to a maximum of 2.6GHz. This produced a respectable mid-range performance with a score of 63/100 in our realworld benchmark tests simulating activities including switching between app as well as audio and video encoding. This represents good value for money, as it's fractionally behind the more expensive HP Elitebook 820 (899 ex VAT).
The main hard drive was rated at 5400rpm, but is backed up by a 32GB solid-state cache which is reserved for system use and provides a noticeable performance boost. The U50T started up in 12 seconds, and woke from sleep in two seconds.
The larger the screen on a device, the bigger the drain on battery resources. Toshiba doesn't list spare battery packs amongst the accessories and the need to unscrew the base panel would make it difficult to swap in a spare battery on the move.
Toshiba quotes a maximum battery life of seven hours for the U50T. In our Iron Man video playback test with Wi-Fi turned off and brightness set to 75 per cent it managed 6 hours and 30 minutes. Less intensive use should allow you to add another hour and come close to a full eight-hour working day between charges.
The Satellite U50T provides good mid-range performance at a competitive price. It got good connectivity, but there is a major trade-off when it comes to screen quality.
A mid-range Ultrabook, with a wealth of connections and 6 hours plus of battery life.
Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U
OS: Windows 8.1
Memory: 6GB DDR3L SDRAM
Storage: 750GB hard disk + 32GB solid-state cache
Connectivity: Single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, WiDi, Miracast
Ports: 2 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, HDMI, headphone jack, SD card slot