Toshiba Satellite C50-B-IIL review
Toshiba has been showing off a bit recently, introducing new models such as its stylish Kira Ultrabook, and the thoroughly over-the-top 4K display of its P50 laptop. However, the company still tends to focus most of its efforts on what it calls the 'value' end of the market, and its new C50 is a good budget laptop for anyone on a really tight budget.
Prices for the C50 range start at just £229 for a model with a Celeron processor, but even this top-of-the-range C50-B-IIL comes in at just under £350 with an i3 processor running at 1.8GHz, 4GB memory and 750GB hard disk. That's a decent specification for a laptop in this price range, even if the Ivy Bridge i3 doesn't have a turboboost option to enhance performance. Its score of 2160 points in the general-purpose PCMark 7 isn't bad at all for an i3 that is only backed-up by a 5400rpm hard drive. The Home and Work Suites in PCMark 8 also produced entry-level scores of 1883 and 2240 points respectively. But, to be fair, we've seen similar scores from other budget laptops costing £100 more than this, so the C50 performs quite respectably for a laptop in this price range.
It's no speed demon, of course, but when using the Windows 8 fast-start option the C50 boots into the Start screen in a relatively snappy 20 seconds. We were also pleased to see that it was ready to start launching applications straight away, with there's no thumb-twiddling or cursor-spinning while it got itself together. It'll handle routine web browsing and work in Microsoft Office perfectly well, so it gets all the basics right for a budget laptop. (See all Ultrabooks reviews.)
In fact, there are few obvious signs of compromise in the C50 at all. The 1366x768 resolution is perfectly acceptable at this price, and the 15.6-inch display provides a bright, detailed image that worked well in our streaming video tests. The horizontal viewing angles are very respectable – close to 150-degrees – with the only weakness being the more limited vertical viewing angle. The brightness of the screen drops off quite quickly even if you push it back just a couple of inches, so you might need to nudge the screen occasionally in order to improve visibility. The speakers are also a bit of a disappointment, sounding quite thin and lifeless, so you'll want to use headphones or a set of external speakers for listening to music.
Build quality is quite good, though. The plastic case has a bit of a cheap-and-cheerful feel to it, but seems sturdy enough to cope with life in a backpack. It won't break your back either, as Toshiba has managed to reduce the weight of the C50 to just 2.2kg. That's well below average for a 15-inch laptop that has a built-in DVD drive, so you should be able to carry it down to a coffee shop for a spot of wifi browsing without too much trouble.
The C50 even managed quite respectable battery life. We weren't expecting its Ivy Bridge processor to last very long, but it actually managed to nudge just past 5.5 hours (333 minutes) in our streaming video tests, so you should easily get six hours or more if you're not using wifi all the time. The only thing it can't really handle is 3D gaming, as the C50 could only manage 21fps when running our Stalker casual gaming test at 1366x768 resolution.
It's not going to turn any heads, but the C50-B-IIL provides a perfectly usable laptop at a very competitive price. Its performance, screen quality and battery life match those of other budget laptops we've seen costing £400 - £500, making the C50 a good option for anyone that needs a reliable laptop for less than £400.