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Toshiba Satellite C850/02D review: Toshiba Satellite C850/02D

By itself, Toshiba's Satellite C850/02D does OK; however, AU$100 more will get you better battery life, build quality and gigabit Ethernet from its competitors.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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If you're into big, black and old school, Toshiba has you covered with the Satellite C850/02D. While the external is gloss coated with a grid-like texture underneath, the inside presents a matte, textured surface, which keeps the fingerprints away, but it won't be to everyone's taste. We're not too fussed, but the textured touch pad does feel a little odd.

toshiba-satellite-c850_1.jpg
6.5

Toshiba Satellite C850/02D

The Good

LG-supplied screen a little more vibrant than AUO supplied equivalents.

The Bad

100Mbps Ethernet. Low battery life. Flexing keyboard.

The Bottom Line

By itself, Toshiba's Satellite C850/02D does OK; however, AU$100 more will get you better battery life, build quality and gigabit Ethernet from its competitors.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 1
  • USB 2.0: 2
  • Optical: DVD±RW
  • Video: VGA, HDMI
  • Ethernet: 100Mbps
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n

The 15.6-inch, 1366x768 TN LG screen is passable, and, while the sound can get loud, the speakers are quite cheap and they lose plenty of the detail in the audio — try to use headphones only, if possible.

The keyboard flexes a little when typing, but this doesn't impact speed or accuracy. It doesn't offer much resistance or feedback when typing, though, with the net effect being that it feels "dead" compared to other keyboards. Like a few vendors these days, Toshiba inverts the function keys — that is, they adjust brightness, volume or perform other functions as default, with F1-F12 being accessible by holding down the Fn key first. While this isn't usually an issue, we found that Alt+F4, the shortcut for closing programs in Windows, didn't function when we had to hold down the Fn key to activate it.

The touch pad is simply standard Synaptics and, as tends to be the case with cheaper laptops, has two separate physical buttons below the pad, which is something that we prefer to the current trend of all-in-one click pads.

Toshiba carries on the annoying habit of putting port labels under the laptop, making them useless. It makes this even worse by etching them rather than colouring them, creating a black-on-black effect that's difficult to see. Still, it should be pretty easy to determine what's what, given that Toshiba colours its USB 3.0 port blue.

Yes, although the standard these days is two USB 3.0 ports, Toshiba's only given one here, supporting it with two USB 2.0 ports instead. You also get separate headphone and microphone jacks, HDMI and VGA out, 100Mbps Ethernet, a DVD&plusm;RW drive, 2.4GHz 802.11n and Bluetooth for connectivity.

Toshiba has kept the price low by making the Satellite C850/02D a last-generation part — that is, it features Intel's Core i5 2450M @ 2.5GHz. Keeping it company is 4GB of RAM, a 500GB mechanical hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 7610M.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

  • 352
    HP dm4 3114TX (Core i5 3210M, 4GB RAM, 640GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7570M)
  • 353
    Asus K55V (Core i5 3210M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, Nvidia GeForce 610M)
  • 378
    Acer Aspire V3-571G (Core i5 2450M, 8GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce GT 630M)
  • 380
    Toshiba Satellite C850/02D (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7610M)
  • 386
    Sony Vaio E SVE14A15FGB (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 640GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7670M)
  • 541
    HP Envy 6 1010TU (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 4GB SSD cache)
  • 763
    Dell Inspiron 13z 5323 (Core i3 2367M, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD)
  • 766
    Dell Inspiron 14z 5423 (Core i3 2367M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 8GB SSD cache)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


No surprises for the hardware involved; the AU$899 C850/02D jostles shoulders with the similarly specced Sony Vaio E and Acer Aspire V3. Both of its direct competitors do offer better build quality and gigabit Ethernet, though.

Gaming performance

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
MEDIUM
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
1258646
1366x768, 4x AA, Detail level: Medium, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
59329
1366x768, DirectX 9, 0x AA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
"="">NOT
PLAYABLE
The Witcher 2
FPS
MaxAvgMin
261912
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
604031
1366x768, low detail.

The low-level Radeon HD 7610M is well suited to the resolution involved, but it's not a gaming GPU by a long shot.

Battery life (time)

  • Heavy battery test
  • Light battery test
  • 4h 15m6h 11m
  • HP dm4 3114TX (Core i5 3210M, 4GB RAM, 640GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7570M)
  • 3h 34m5h 10m
  • HP Envy 6 1010TU (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 4GB SSD cache)
  • 3h 25m5h 0m
  • Sony Vaio E SVE14A15FGB (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 640GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7670M)
  • 2h 37m4h 9m
  • Acer Aspire V3-571G (Core i5 2450M, 8GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce GT 630M)
  • 3h 13m4h 7m
  • Dell Inspiron 13z 5323 (Core i3 2367M, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD)
  • 2h 51m4h 3m
  • Asus K55V (Core i5 3210M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, Nvidia GeForce 610M)
  • 2h 54m3h 49m
  • Dell Inspiron 14z 5423 (Core i3 2367M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 8GB SSD cache)
  • 2h 36m3h 32m
  • Toshiba Satellite C850/02D (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7610M)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


This is where Toshiba comes undone — for just AU$100 more, Sony and HP offer significantly better battery life, not to mention build quality.

Conclusion

By itself, Toshiba's Satellite C850/02D does OK; however, AU$100 more will get you better battery life, build quality and gigabit Ethernet from its competitors.