3 star rating

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 Review

Pros: Powerful Core i7 processor; Impressive graphics capabilities; Excellent keyboard
Cons: Dim low-res display; Poor viewing angles; Below average battery life
The Verdict: Toshiba's Satellite S55t-A5277 has the power needed to handle anything you can throw at it, but a poor display and short battery life hold it back.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

In search of a back to school laptop that can handle both your class work and some gaming in your downtime? Toshiba's Satellite S55t-A5277 may be just what you're looking for. This 15.6-inch touch-screen notebook features a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 740M graphics chip with 2GB of RAM and a massive 1TB of hard drive space. At $989, though, this laptop won't leave much room in your back to school budget for anything else. Then again, the Satellite S55t might just be worth it.

Article Continued Below

Design

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

Toshiba has put quite a bit of work into sprucing up its notebooks for the back to school season, and the Satellite S55t is no different. Like its sibling the Satellite P55t, the S55t sports Toshiba's new Skyline design language, the primary focus of which is to afford Toshiba's notebooks a more refined look. That starts with the Satellite S55t's Ice Silver-colored brushed aluminum lid. Adorned with a chrome Toshiba logo in the bottom right corner, the lid's appearance is sleek and understated.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Open the lid and that brushed aluminum design continues to the laptop's spacious and comfortable wrist rest. Above that is the notebook's glossy black plastic keyboard deck. A thin silver speaker grille adds some character to the inside of the notebook, while an edge-to-edge glass display lends the laptop an air of elegance.

MORE: Best Laptops 2013

Measuring 14.9 x 9.6 x 1.2 inches and weighing 5.4 pounds, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 is both smaller and lighter than the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814, which measures 15.4 x 9.9 x 0.96 inches and weighs 5.6 pounds.

Display

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277For a notebook that has such a powerful processor and graphics chip, the Satellite S55t's display sure is a letdown. At 15.6 inches the S55t's TruBrite 10-finger touch-screen display sports a middling resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. When a notebook is priced well north of $900, a display with a resolution less than 1600 x 900 is a nonstarter.

Images and videos such as a trailer for "The Wolverine" were a bit pixelated, while colors appeared dull and washed out. The low resolution also means you don't get the kind of desktop screen real estate offered by notebooks with higher resolution displays. Similarly, games suffer from a lower image quality and lose out on the kind of minute details that make them look great.

We were also let down by the S55t's extremely low display brightness, which measured just 115 lux. That said, the Acer Aspire V5's display, which also sports a 1366 x 768 resolution, barely outshined the S55t with a brightness rating of 121 lux. Those scores are nowhere near the mainstream notebook category average of 208 lux.

MORE: Toshiba Best and Worst Notebook Brands 2013 Rating

Further affecting the Satellite's display are its poor viewing angles. While playing the aforementioned trailer for "The Wolverine," colors became distorted and eventually inverted when viewed on an angle.

Audio

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277The Satellite S55t's Harman Kardon speakers situated just above the keyboard offered exceptional sound quality, though we would prefer if it offered louder bass. While listening to Kanye West's "Blood on the Leaves," we could easily make out each note produced by the synthesizer, but bass hits sounded a bit too flat. Rock songs, however, sounded clear and accurate, allowing us to hear every note without issue. The included DTS Sound Studio software lets users increase bass and treble output, as well as select between surround or 3D sound settings.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Thanks to its relatively large footprint, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 has a full-size keyboard and number pad. The frameless, backlit keyboard's plastic keys offered sufficient tactile feedback, as well as a satisfying tapping noise when pressed. We were especially thankful for the reversed function keys situated along the keyboard's top row. On the Ten Thumbs Typing test, we scored an average of 86 words per minute with a 2 percent error rate, a personal best. That's well above our usual 76 word-per-minute average.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277The Satellite S55t's 4.5 x 2.6-inch Synaptics touchpad offered spot-on accuracy. Windows 8 and multitouch gestures were smooth and easy to use. Still, we took issue with how needlessly complicated Toshiba made it to enable the twist-to-rotate gesture. In order to activate it, you have to open the touchpad's settings, check the box next to rotating, then enter a submenu to select enable twist to rotate.

Ports and Webcam

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Toshiba equipped the Satellite S55t with a number of connection ports and jacks. On the right side are two USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port, a VGA port and headphone and microphone jacks. On the left side is a single USB 2.0 port that supports Sleep and Charge and Sleep and Music. The former allows you to charge your USB devices using your notebook even when it's powered down. The later lets you listen to music stored on your smartphone when the notebook is turned off. The notebook's left side also plays host to an Ethernet jack and a SuperMulti DVD drive, as well as the power adapter. Up along the notebooks front lip is its multimedia card reader.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Images and videos shot using the Satellite S55t's 0.9-megapixel camera were grainy and lacked any significant details. Wrinkles and lines in our subject's face were difficult to make out and colors were off. A red and white striped shirt, for example, looked brighter than it actually was, with reds appearing pink and off-white's looking white.

MORE: Best & Worst Notebook Brands 2013

Heat

After streaming a 1080p Hulu video for 15 minutes, the Satellite S55t-A5227's touchpad topped out at a relatively cool 75.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The keyboard, meanwhile, reached just 78 degrees, while the notebook's underside hit 82 on the thermometer. The highest temperature we recorded was a 94.5 degrees spot below the large cooling vent on the notebook's right side. We consider temperatures of 95 degrees and lower to be comfortable.

Performance

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Packed with a fourth-generation 2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 12GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 740M graphics chip with Optimus technology and a 1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive, the Satellite S55t is a portable powerhouse. To test the Toshiba's real-world performance, we opened 12 tabs in Google Chrome, streamed a video over Netflix and ran a Norton PC Checkup, and didn't notice a hint of system slowdown.

On the PCMark7 benchmark, which tests a laptop's overall performance, the Satellite S55t-A5277 scored a 4,842. That's far better than the 2,566 scored by the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 and its 2.0-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-3537U processor, 8GB, 1TB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce GT 710M graphics processor with Optimus technology. The mainstream notebook category average, meanwhile, came in at 2,949.

On Geekbench, another benchmark that tests a notebook's overall performance, the Satellite S55t pulled down a score of 8,238, easily topping the category average of 6,769, as well as the Acer Aspire V5's score of 6,913.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Despite the fact that it comes with a relatively slow 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 managed to boot in a lightning-fast 13 seconds. That's better than the Acer Aspire V5's boot time of 31 seconds, and well ahead of the category average of 38 seconds.

MORE: 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Laptop For Under $100

Where the Satellite S55t's hard drive becomes a pain is when you want to move data. It took the S55t 2 minutes and 52 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, copying 4.97GB of mixed media files, at a rate of 29.5 MBps. And while that's better than the Acer Aspire V5's transfer rate of 16.6 MBps, it's far slower than the mainstream notebook category average of 43 MBps.

The star of the show, the Satellite S55t's 2.4-GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, was lights out on our GeekBench test, taking just 4 minutes and 23 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. The Core i7-equipped Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 finished the test in 4:47, while the average mainstream notebook ran through the test in 5:47

Graphics

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277Toshiba isn't messing around when it comes to the Satellite S55t's graphics performance. Packed with an Nvidia GeForce 740M graphics processor with 2GB of RAM and Optimus technology, the S55t scored an impressive 1,987 on the 3DMark11 benchmark. The Acer Aspire V5 could muster a score of only 1,209. The category average was a bit higher, but still well off the Toshiba's mark, with a score of 1,302.

The S55t's performance came in handy during gaming sessions, too. While playing "World of Warcraft" with the settings on autodetect and the resolution at 1366 x 768, we saw average frame rates of 92 frames per second. Kick up the graphics to max and frame rates held solid at 54 fps. That's much higher than the Acer Aspire V5's 36 fps, as well as the category average of 37 fps.

MORE: Best Gaming Laptop 2013

On the significantly more taxing "Bioshock Infinite," we saw frame rates as high as 45 fps with the graphics on low and the resolution at 1366 x 768. Turn the graphics all the way up, however, and the Toshiba hits a wall, with frame rates plummeting to just 16 fps. Still, the only laptops out there that can handle playing a game like "BioShock Infinite" with the graphics set to high are those made specifically for gaming.

Battery Life

If the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 has one major flaw, it is battery life. The laptop's lithium-ion battery lasted just 4 hours and 20 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing with the display brightness set to 40 percent. And while that may be better than the Acer Aspire V5's pitiful 3:29, it's still well off the category average of 5:35.

MORE: 10 Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Software and Warranty

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277One of the most annoying thing laptop makers do is load down your brand-new notebook with a ton of bloatware. Unfortunately, Toshiba has done just that. The company hits you with its Toshiba App Place store, the Toshiba Book Place store, the Toshiba Start news app, Toshiba Video Player and Toshiba Media Player. The apps aren't necessarily bad, but they do duplicate a few of Windows 8's built-in apps such as News. We did, however, find the Toshiba Desktop Assist rather useful as it gives you access to several important system settings in one convenient place.

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277In addition to first-party apps, Toshiba has loaded the Satellite S55t-A5277 with myriad third-party apps, including Amazon, EA's Origin gaming service, Ebay, Evernote Touch, Netflix, StumbleUpon, Vimeo and the WildTangent game console.

Toshiba offers customers who purchase a Satellite S55t-A5277 a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Configurations

Our Satellite S55t-A5277 comes equipped with a 2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce 740M with 2GB of RAM and Optimus technology for $989. If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, and are willing to sacrifice the power, you can grab a Satellite S50-ABT2N22 for $579. That notebook comes with a 1.9-GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-3227U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and integrated graphics chip.

Looking for more power? You can always customize your Satellite to include a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and an 8GB hybrid drive, Nvidia GeForce 740M with Optimus technology, a Blu-ray writer and touch-screen display, all for $1,389.

Verdict

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277The $989 Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 is a gorgeous powerhouse of a laptop that can not only handle your most intense class work, but also lets you blow off steam with some of the hottest PC games. Unfortunately, its dim, low-resolution display belies its high price, while its anemic battery life makes it less than portable. If you're willing to use a less powerful system, you can opt for the $699 Acer Aspire M5-583P-6428, which has a slightly slower processor but longer battery life. But if you simply want an attractive laptop with major horsepower and great sound, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 could be for you.

Tags: Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277, Toshiba, toshiba satelite, laptops, reviews

Technical Specifications
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277
www.toshiba.com


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
CPU
2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor
Operating SystemWindows 8
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
RAM
12GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
16GB
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
1 TB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
5,400rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
15.6
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
1366x768
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
Super-Multi DVD
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Nvidia GeForce 740M with Optimus
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
2GB
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Wi-Fi
802.11b/g/n
Wi-Fi ModelRealtek RTL8188E Wireless LAN 802.11n PCI-E NIC
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
none
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
Learn More
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size4.5 x 2.65 inches
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; HDMI; Headphone; Microphone; security lock slot; USB 2.0; USB 3.0; VGA
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
3
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
Learn More
Card Slots
3-1 card reader
Warranty/Support1 Year Standard Limited Warranty
Size14.9 x 9.6 x 1.2 inches
Weight5.4 pounds
AUTHOR BIO
Dan Howley, Senior Writer
Dan Howley, Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media's Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Dan Howley, Senior Writer on
Twitter Google+
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE