First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Toshiba Satellite A100 (PSAARA-055007)
- Harmon Kardon speakers, physical external volume control, solid build
- Nothing of note
The Toshiba Satellite A100 is a solid notebook for the casual home user. It doesn't top the charts with its performance, but it offers just a little more than the core components.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
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As this is far from the first time we've looked at a Toshiba Satellite A100 notebook we were pretty sure we knew what to expect and we were not disappointed by the latest iteration in this impressive series. Yet again this notebook offers all the perks of the Satellite range, while performing comfortably in our benchmarks.
The A100 is installed with a low-end Intel Core 2 Duo T5200 1.60GHz CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 graphics card and 1GB of DDR2 RAM on a Windows Vista Home Premium platform. Also installed are a 120GB SATA hard drive and a DVD re-writer.
Some of the most notable features of this notebook are far from new; it's just that they keep coming back, and quite frankly we see no reason to change this. The first of this list is the Harmon Kardon speakers, which offer some of the best audio available from a notebook. They're loud, clear and great for watching movies. Aiding this is the selection of media playback controls left of the keyboard and a volume control wheel on the front edge of the notebook. As is fairly common with notebooks these days the A100 includes a media card reader, which supports SD, MS, MS-Pro, xD and MMC cards.
As this system comes with Windows Vista Home Premium we've put it to the test using our latest benchmarking software WorldBench 6. Its total score of 60 in WorldBench 6 shows it's only useful for the casual home user, and individual test results in heavy CPU intensive tasks scored badly. We found that for office applications and web browsing it was on par with most other systems, but rendering or photo-editing will be slower on this machine.
We've seen mixed LCD quality from the A100 notebooks we've tested over the past year and this one looks good, though it's not perfect. The vertical viewing angle is good but the brightness and contrast are a little dull. This 15.4in LCD is housed in a strong inflexible casing, protecting it from damage. In fact, the whole chassis is quite sturdy and should withstand a little rough treatment.
Although the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 is far from being a high-end gaming system it should still handle some older games reasonably well as indicated by the score of 7316 in 3DMark 2001 SE. A quick run through 3DMark 2006 showed it's not up to the challenge of newer shader intensive games.
We put the A100 through a worst case scenario battery test by looping a DVD. This test is the most taxing on the battery as the optical drive and speakers are in use as well as the core, necessary components like the CPU and RAM. The A100 managed to last through a feature length DVD at 99 minutes. This isn't an amazing result but it is better than many similar notebooks we've looked at recently.
The A100 offers some good connectivity with four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, VGA, S-Video and a PC Card/Express Card slot. There's also Bluetooth 2.0 installed, not to mention the benefits of the Centrino platform, including Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g and gigabit Ethernet.
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