We think the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 is a sub-$500 laptop that is worth considering. We didn't review it, but we did benchmark and review a similar model from Toshiba: the Satellite C55Dt. You’ll find our thoughts below, as well as specs, features and excerpts from professional- and user-reviews. You may also want to check out the Best Laptops Under $500and the Best Toshiba Laptops. All of the laptops on those pages were fully tested, benchmarked and reviewed by Laptop Mag's testing lab and editorial staff. –Laptop Mag Editors
Who's It For?
The 15-inch Toshiba Satellite C55-C5221 ($449) is designed for home and student users who need reliable performance for a variety of mainstream tasks, such as web surfing, document editing or social networking. While fairly light given the screen size, this 4.9-pound system is designed to be moved from room to room and not travel.
Key Specs and Features
The Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 packs a 5th Gen Intel Core i5 5200U CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz, paired with 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive, which are pretty good components for a laptop under $500. Users can expect enough power for running multiple tabs and applications simultaneously, and even some light gaming. However, the screen is a simple LED backlit 1366 x 768 non-touch affair, so there is a tradeoff here.
On the connectivity front, the laptop includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 100 Mbps ethernet jack. Ports include 2 USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port, microphone jack, SDXC card reader, and HDMI out. The included DVD-SuperMulti Drive is a nice addition for people who still burn or watch discs. Built into the screen bezel is a 720p webcam, which is sufficient for Skype usage. The stereo speakers are fine for listening to music, but (based on our review of a similar model) don’t offer much bass.
This model is a variant of the C55DT we reviewed in August. Aesthetically speaking, it shares the same matte black color, and brushed finish (Toshiba calls this a “textured resin finish”) as the C55DT. The differences are mostly internal, as that model had an AMD A4 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 750GB Hard Drive and cost $100 less. We particularly liked the touchpad, but overall found the design and performance to be rather lackluster. The screen, which unlike the C55-C5241 had touch, was bright but had dull colors.
What Owners Say
According to Amazon's user comments, Satellite C55-C5241 owners say that through and through - it is a true workhorse relative to its price. Many liked the C55's mix of I/O ports, and claim that it handles multitasking very well. Furthermore, owners commend the lack of pre-installed bloatware, citing only the inclusion of McAfee antivirus as a slight annoyance.
However, the low cost does results in noticeable tradeoffs. Commenters report that the battery life is around 5 hours under standard usage. They say that the keyboard feels mushy, and doesn't appear as if it was designed with longevity in mind.
Owners also criticized the display's poor color reproduction and viewing angles. The lack of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and gigabit Ethernet were also cited as disappointments.
MORE: Best Laptops Under $500
What Reviewers Say
Several professional tech publications have reviewed the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 and appreciate the value it offers. "Sometimes you just need a laptop to do the job, and that’s what you’ve got here," writes Lamech M of PCVerge.
According to 9to5Gadgets, the C55 s a solid all-around system, which is good for users who don't need higher end components like an SSD for faster load times or discrete graphics for gaming. LaptopReviews says it is perfect for families that need a shared computer with lots of storage space and reliable performance.
The consensus is that the the graphics are a bit lacking, along with the display quality, and the keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. However, reviewers give the C55-C5241 points for including a dedicated numeric keypad, and found the multi-touch trackpad comfortable and accurate.
If you're looking for a sub-$500 family or student PC, the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 promises plenty of performance for the money, thanks to its solid specs. If you're picky about your keyboard, need long battery life or want a gorgeous display, look elsewhere but expect to spend more. If you want to spend less than $450, consider the C55DT, which costs $100 less and has a touch screen but slower performance. Overall, the C55-C5241 is a budget laptop worth considering.