Satellite A350 (PSAL6A-059016B)
The Toshiba Satellite A350 is a top choice for a desktop replacement
The Toshiba Satellite A350 (PSAL6A-059016B) has a fast processor, a 16in screen, a wide variety of wired connections and a relatively low price point, making it a good choice for a budget desktop replacement or a home entertainment centre.
- Fast processor, good graphics, reasonable price, HDMI, eSATA, FM tuner, good 16in screen
- Only a 4200rpm hard drive, heavy weight
The Toshiba Satellite A350 (PSAL6A-059016B) is a powerful and well-priced desktop replacement laptop with a wide variety of ports and a good 16in screen.
Price$ 2,299.00 (AUD)
In terms of design, the Satellite A350 has a striped ash-grey body with piano black keys. It's the same style seen in many of the Satellite range, and we've praised its subtle attractiveness before — this won't look out of place in corporate or home environments.
The 16in widescreen display has a native resolution of 1366x768, making it useful for video editing programs like Final Cut Pro and Avid that use more horizontal screen space for non-linear timeline editing. Images and movies are produced with vivid colours and the level of reflectivity is relatively low for a glossy screen.
The Satellite A350's full-sized keyboard has large keys and provides plenty of space for the cursor keys. We found that the button response was a bit too spongy for our liking, but touch-typing is still easy to do at high speeds once users have gotten used to this.
The Satellite A350 uses a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor and 4GB of DDR2 RAM, while the storage is provided by a 400GB hard drive that spins at 4200rpm. We'd prefer to see a 5400rpm or above hard drive at this price point. Unfortunately, Toshiba has bundled this notebook with the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium, which can't use more than 3GB of RAM, leaving 1GB of RAM unused.
But this lack of full RAM recognition doesn't make the system a sloth, as seen by our benchmarks. In WorldBench 6, the laptop managed to get a healthy score of 95. This means that hardware-intensive functions like video editing and 3D rendering can be easily handled by the Satellite A350.
The processor's power was shown by our iTunes MP3 encoding test and our Blender 3D rendering test, with this laptop completing their tasks in 1min 10sec and 1min 15sec, respectively.
Toshiba has also included a built-in radio tuner, so you can tune into your favourite FM station during otherwise productive work hours. If radio isn't quite your thing, the notebook comes bundled with a USB stick digital TV tuner.
An ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 graphics card provides the system graphics, and it helped to get a 3DMark06 score of 4161 in our tests. This is a good score for a device at this price point, and it means you can play DirectX 9 titles like Half-Life 2 without any problems while newer and more graphics-intensive games like Crysis will devour the card.
Connecting the Toshiba A350 to a range of devices is simple thanks to the variety of ports built into it. Four 'sleep-and-charge' USB 2.0 ports mean that USB devices can be charged while the computer is switched off, and one of those ports doubles as an eSATA connection. The HDMI output lets you connect the laptop with LCD and plasma screens and Toshiba has provided a D-Sub port and S-Video out port for other compatible display devices. For networking, there is 802.11n wireless functionality, as well as Gigabit Ethernet.
An ExpressCard/54 slot sits on the left-hand side of the unit above a FireWire port, which is great for taking data off devices like camcorders. A 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MS, MSPro, MMC, xD) can be found on the front of the chassis, next to the microphone and headphone ports.
In our battery tests, the Satellite A350 lasted for 1hr 31min, which is what we expected from a notebook of this size. The laptop weighs in at 2.95kg without the power supply and 3.65kg with it included, so trying to carry it out and about will take quite a bit of effort.
All up, the Satellite A350 gives great performance for a reasonable price. It's a mid-range desktop replacement that is worth considering.
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