Hands on: Toshiba Tecra W50

The W50 is like a wildebeest; ugly, but fast.

For those unfamiliar, Tecra is Toshiba’s take on an enterprise laptop, and it’s meant to compete with the likes of Lenovo’s ThinkPad, HP’s EliteBook and Acer’s Travelmate.

Though Toshiba claims the W50 is among “the thinnest, lightest designs in its class,” the laptop is in fact a massive brick designed as a mobile workstation rather than a grab-and-go ultraportable. Weight comes in at a hefty six pounds and the chassis is up to 1.37 inches thick, well beyond what’s considered slim.

We thought the laptop’s slab-like presence would come with an aura of concrete confidence, but instead the system felt flimsy. The display allows a disturbing amount of flex and some body panels bend when depressed with modest force. Nothing about the W50 screams modern; if Toshiba told us it was just some laptop they found in the back of a closet, we’d almost believe them.

“Almost,” because the laptop’s lackluster body encases an optional 4K Ultra HD display. Besides the gloss coat, which looked less reflective than that on the Satellite P55t, the Tecra’s panel appears the same. Individual pixels are nearly impossible to pick out and the screen offers a strong color gamut with excellent contrast. We can’t say for sure how well the 4K display performs until we test it thoroughly, but it makes an excellent first impression.

The Tecra’s hardware is impressive, as well. A range of Core i7 quads are available alongside Nvidia Quadro K2100M graphics and up to 32GB of RAM. There’s also a wide range of mechanical and solid state hard drives. A DVD drive is standard, and can be upgraded to a Blu-Ray burner. Though we didn’t have a chance to run benchmarks, we expect the W50 to perform well even in its most basic configuration.

Toshiba Tecra W50 trackpad

Being an enterprise system, the W50 will ship with an absurd range of connectivity that includes HDMI, USB, Smart Card, Expresscard, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. If that’s not enough, a docking connector will allow for even more options, though the dock’s specs have not been announced.

Keyboard quality is important to an enterprise laptop, and this Toshiba is competent in that area. The 15.6” display means the keyboard has plenty of space, and individual keys provide reasonable tactile feel. We found the touchpad to be just adequate, as it’s not large relative to the laptop’s size, but it is bordered by a panel of attractive LED readouts the let you know at-a-glance if the system is charging, on Bluetooth or WiFi, or in sleep mode.

What you think of the new 4K Tecra will depend on how strongly you favor function over form. There’s no denying the system is powerful, or that the display is beautiful, or that connectivity is strong. Yet this is also a PC that’s supposed to work day after day while shrugging off abuse, and it doesn’t quite feel up to the task.

Since the W50 isn’t obviously amazing it will have to offer compelling value to stand a chance. Unfortunately, price is the one part of the equation Toshiba has kept secret, and we likely won’t know more until close to the laptop’s mid-year release.

Highs

  • Powerful hardware
  • 4K Ultra HD display looks amazing
  • Lots of connectivity

Lows

  • Heavy and thick
  • Doesn’t feel sturdy
  • Pricing is an open question
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