Can a 17.3-inch screen lift this Toshiba above the competition?
The traditional desktop replacement laptop has lost prominence over the last few years, thanks to the growth in gaming notebooks and mobile workstations, but there is still a plenty to like about larger laptops such as the Toshiba Satellite L70-B-11C. For starters, it costs £599, or $935 in the States (about AU$1,011) – half the price, or less, of dedicated gaming or workstation notebooks with 17.3-inch screens. It also means you are getting more for your money when compared to rival machines: the Toshiba Satellite S50D-A-10G is very cheaper but it has got a 15.6-inch screen and AMD internals, while the Lenovo Flex 2 15 is smaller, although it benefits from a 300-degree hinged mechanism.
The price has put down this machine firmly in mid-range territory – and its design does that, too. The Satellite’s exterior is made up from plastic, and much of the material feels hollow and cheap rather than solid and reassuring. Its looks are not much cop, either: the champagne-tinted metallic plastic is coated with a subtle lined pattern. It’s a better look than the plain metallic color of the Satellite S50D, but it still can’t match the dark, brushed finish used on the Lenovo.
There is a rattle from the wrist-rest, and the middle of the screen’s casing depresses easily when it is being pushed. Pressing the base panel saw the keyboard’s shape distort. Such mediocre build quality means that we’d only travel with the L70 if it was protected by a case or sleeve.
Despite the lack of strength, the L70 still weighs 5.9lb (2.7kg) and is 1.33-inch (34mm) thick, so you will notice when it is slung inside a bag. Both rival machines, with their 15.6-inch screens, are smaller. It is not too satisfying to use the Toshiba’s keyboard or track pad, either. The keyboard is large enough, and its layout is fine, but the L70’s typing action is hampered by a familiar Toshiba trait: a lack of key movement. The keys are light and fast, so you will be able to work on the L70, but pricier machines will have better hardware. The track pad is smooth and accurate, but its buttons might disappoint a lot. When pressed towards the centre, they are not snappy enough, but in each corner the buttons require more pressure – and there’s little feedback to indicate that they have been prodded.
The Satellite’s internals do not stray from the mid-range notebook blueprint. The Core i5-4200U processor is the weakest low-part chip in the Core i5 range thanks to clock and Turbo speeds of 1.6 GHz and 2.6 GHz. The Toshiba S50D’s AMD APU beats both of those figures, at least when read in theories, and the Lenovo deploys a Core i5-4210U – the next step up in the range. The processor includes the underwhelming HD Graphics 4400 integrated core, and there is 8GB of RAM, a DVD writer and a 1TB hard disk.