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Toshiba Satellites are back after a half-decade disappearance

Time will tell if the relaunched line can offer the value it strives after.

A woman works in a cafe with a dynabook satellite and a book. Credit: Dynabook Americas

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If you've never heard of the Toshiba Satellite line, we wouldn't be surprised. While they have a rich history dating back to the early 1990s, the line was discontinued in 2016 due to Toshiba's exit from the consumer laptop market. The Satellite line includes some of the earliest laptops ever made, competing with the likes of IBM and Dell, when CD-ROM drives were considered high-tech. And now, as the all-virtual CES 2021 begins in earnest, they're back.

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Because Toshiba Laptops has been rebranded as Dynabooks America, the Toshiba Satellite line is technically now the Dynabook Satellite line, but the philosophy of the line is unchanged. They're squarely aimed at those looking for an affordable laptop, with prices anywhere from $499 to $899.

With last-generation Intel CPUs and up to eight gigabytes of RAM for all but the $899 model, however, they'll have a lot to prove to overcome this underwhelming spec sheet. None of the tech on these laptops is cutting edge, and they're all standard clamshells, unlike the sleek 2-in-1s (such as the HP Envy x360 and Acer Spin 3) that have been popping up on the higher end of this price range.

Dynabook Satellite Pro C40

Credit: Dynabook Americas

The Satellite Pro C40 14-inch laptop doesn't have much to distinguish itself unless it proves to have a stellar battery life or build quality.

With the exception of the cheapest $500 version with a paltry four gigabytes of memory, the Satellite Pro C40 offers a no-fuss 14-inch laptop experience with the essentials. Both pricier models come with eight gigabytes of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive, but the $600 version has an Intel Core i3 processor while the $700 version has the stronger Intel Core i5 processor. The i3 processor is fine if all you do is web browsing and office tasks, but those who do light photo or video editing may appreciate the extra power of the i5 processor.

What’s more interesting is that the Satellite Pro C40 comes with Windows 10 Pro on its $600 and $700 models, providing users a relatively cheap machine with access to Pro-exclusive features like remote connectivity. This isn’t incredibly useful for many home users, but it could be a boon for those who rely on connecting to a more powerful desktop to get heavy work done.

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Dynabook Satellite Pro C50

Credit: Dynabook Americas

This 15.6-inch laptop provides a reasonable budget option for those who need Windows 10 Pro, but that's about it.

While the 15.6-inch Satellite Pro C50 comes in four different configurations, only two are worth talking about: the ones with full HD 1080p screens, since a 720p screen just isn’t acceptable for a $500-$600 laptop. There are two 1080p configurations, one at $600 and one at $700.

Just like the C40s above, both configurations have Windows 10 Pro, 256GB of storage, and 8GB of memory. The $600 version comes with an Intel Core i3 processor and the $700 version packs an Intel Core i5 processor.

All else on the $600 and $700 models is the same as the other two C50 models. Expect to see WiFi 5, Bluetooth, and an average selection of ports. As with the C40, if you need Windows 10 Pro, this could be an interesting option, but there’s otherwise nothing to differentiate the C50 from its competition.

Dynabook Satellite Pro L50

Credit: Dynabook Americas

While undeniably more robust the the Satellite Pro C40 and C50, the Satellite Pro L50 faces an uphill battle against the similarly priced and very attractive HP Envy x360, Acer Aspire 5, and Asus Vivobook 15.

This will be Dynabook's flagship Satellite model, with a top-line Intel Core i7 processor (although it's from last gen), 16GB of RAM, and a discrete Nvidia MX250 graphics card. With three USB 3.2 type A ports, one USB-C 3.2 port, an SD card reader, and a Gigabit Ethernet port it has quite a few connectivity options. It's a little on the heavy side at 3.75 pounds, but the $899 L50 should still be relatively easy to carry for those who need a lot of power on a budget.

Satellite laptop is open and on.
Credit: Dynabook Americas

The new Dynabook Satellites aren't the most eye-catching machines we've seen, but at such a low price we can't fault it.

If the Dynabook Satellites are as hardy as the discontinued Satellites of the early 21st century (my dad has one from 2004 that's still kicking), they could be a decent option for someone looking for a no-fuss budget laptop for basic word processing and web browsing, or for those looking to find a machine to remotely connect to a more powerful desktop.

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