Toshiba's Satellite Pro R850 is a sturdy desktop replacement machine for doing work on a grander scale. Priced at £790, it's powered by a meaty Intel Core i5 processor, so should have no problem handling everyday office tasks.
In many ways the R850 looks like a supersized version of the R830 we'll be reviewing shortly. It has a similar black and chrome finish that looks very professional. Unlike the R830, however, it feels as though it's well bolted together and that it'll stand up to long-term abuse. For a 15-inch model, it's relatively thin at 25mm, and light too, tipping the scales at just 1.48kg.
Under the bonnet the R850 has a fairly meaty specification. It uses an Intel Core i5-2410M processor that's clocked at 2.3GHz, but the chip's Turboboost technology allows it to automatically overclock itself to a maximum of 2.9GHz in short bursts when an application particularly needs it. The processor is helped along by 6GB of RAM and there's also a dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6450M graphics chip.
In PCMark 05 it managed to rack up an impressive score of 7,629, while in 3DMark 06 it posted a result of 4,696. The PCMark 05 score shows the laptop is certainly not lacking in performance muscle, so it'll have no problem crunching its way through even more demanding multi-tasking duties. Its 3DMark score is a little less impressive, as it would need to score considerably higher if it was to be able to run the latest first-person shooters at high frame rates.
Because Toshiba sees this laptop as primarily for work rather than play, it's kitted it out with a 15.6-inch matte display, as opposed to one that uses a glossy coating. The matte finish does mean that colours look a little less vibrant than they do on glossy screens, but this display's LED backlighting means it still looks very bright. Given the relatively high price of the laptop, we would have preferred to see a higher resolution than the 1,366x768 pixels on offer, especially as it would have made it easier to work on two documents side by side.
The keyboard is a mixed bag too. It uses tile-like keys that are wide and flat and the action is quite springy. The spacebar on our sample didn't always register properly when we were touch typing on it, which was more than a little annoying. Nevertheless, the keyboard is spill-resistant, so if you knock a can of Coke over it, it shouldn't be the end of the world.
The R850's 500GB hard drive offers plenty of room for storing documents and files and also has an impact sensor that can park the drive's heads, if it senses that the laptop is going into freefall, in order to protect your data. There's a DVD writer onboard too and you'll find a multi-format memory card reader tucked into the left-hand side of the chassis. This supports both standard SD cards as well as Sony's Memory Stick format.
A question of ports
The line up of ports isn't bad. Along with two standard USB 2.0 ports, there's also a USB 3.0 port on the left hand side. Although there aren't a huge number of USB 3.0 devices on the market at the moment, it's still good to see it included here. What's more, Toshiba has also added a dual-function eSATA/USB port that's enabled for sleep and charge. This allows you to charge portable kit like smartphones and MP3 players even when the laptop is switch off.
If you need to hook the R850 up to a hi-def TV, the HDMI port which is nestled alongside the VGA output will come in very handy, as it carries both audio and video over the same lead. Networking duties are taken care of by a Gigabit Ethernet port, wireless n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth V3.0.
Most 15-inch laptops manage to run for around 1 hour 20 minutes in our Battery Eater test. This test runs the processor at full whack to simulate worst-case-scenario battery life. The R850 did better than most, managing to keep going for 1 hour 42 minutes, which is pretty impressive in anyone's book.
Overall, the Satellite Pro R850 is a solidly built laptop that offers good performance and has a decent lineup of features. It doesn't excel in any one particular area, however, and we were disappointed by its less than inspiring keyboard.
Edited by Nick Hide