Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba Satellite A200 (PSAFCA-01K009J)
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (Kedron), harmon/kardon speakers with hardware controlled volume, Performance
- Nothing of note
The Toshiba Satellite range has always been a winner and the A200 is no exception. Its inclusion of the new Wi-Fi n standard is a nice addition, especially since it's not a Santa Rosa notebook.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
If you thought the Toshiba Satellite A100 was sexy then check out the dashing new look of the A200 (PSAFCA-01K00J). Toshiba is constantly updating the core components of its machines, and they have done so once again, but this is also the first aesthetic update we've seen in a while.
Intel has recently launched its latest update to the Centrino platform, codenamed Santa Rosa. Although it takes some patience to understand the haze of codenames being thrown around, there is some sense to be made. The A200 is not a Santa Rosa Centrino notebook, but it does offer at least one benefit of the new platform, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, which has been codenamed Kedron. Kedron is a faster and longer reaching wireless signal and is a nice albeit unexpected addition to the A200.
Apart from Kedron, the A200 includes a host of features including an Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 1.73GHz CPU, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 graphics chip and all the familiar perks of the Toshiba Satellites, the most notable of which is the quality Harmon Kardon speaker set, with an external volume control. It also sports a 15.4in screen with a native resolution of 1280 x 800 and runs the Windows Vista Home Premium edition.
Performance-wise the A200 did well in our benchmarks. The T5300 is no powerhouse CPU, but this was offset by the 2GB of RAM, which gives it a performances boost. While the hardware pushed it to a nice score of 69 in WorldBench 6 the fact that there's limited RAM slots left for later upgrades (two of the four are occupied), means that the power of this notebook is just about at its peak. That said if you're not the type to upgrade a notebook down the track, the more RAM at the start, the better. Overall this WorldBench 6 result indicates the system should handle everyday tasks such as Web surfing, word processing and even a little photo editing, without the system slowing down drastically.
In our MP3 encoding test, where we encode 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, the A200 took 165 seconds to complete the task. This is not a terrible result, but certainly isn't lightning fast. Gaming results were also mediocre. Newer games are not going to run with the GeForce Go 7300 graphics chip, but the score of 8256 in 3DMark 2001 SE suggests older games may still run reasonably well.
The Toshiba Satellite range has a good reputation for battery life, according to our previous test results. We use a worst-case scenario battery test, which involves draining the battery by looping DVD. The test is considered a worst-case scenario because it uses the speakers and the optical drive as well as the core components such as the CPU and RAM. In this test the A200 lasted for 97 minutes, a good time for a notebook of its class especially considering the Harmon Kardon speakers produce a far better quality of sound than the majority of notebook speakers, and potentially waste more power in the process.
The optical drive is a DVD re-writer, so moving data to single use or re-writable media is a simple process should the installed hard drive ever fill up. However, with 160GB at your disposal it will take a serious media addict to max it out. One way to do this would be with digital photographs, and to this end the A200 supports SD, MMC and xD media cards. There's also a webcam and microphone for YouTube addicts and those with friends abroad.
The new look silver keyboard and the same old touchpad are responsive to use, and Toshiba has finally realised that positioning the Windows key in its standard bottom-left keyboard location is far better for those of us with a knack for keyboard shortcuts. Above the keyboard are the familiar media controls and hotkeys for Internet and email, but they look good in their new location. The screen has good brightness and contrast, and a slightly better viewing angle than most notebooks, but it is still not perfect by any means.
As far as aesthetics go, the lid has been given a new, darker sheen and the whole notebook has piano black trimmings with blue glowing indicator icons for the power, hard-drive etc, not to mention the glowing "Satellite" logo on the front edge.
As mentioned above, the Kedron Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g+n wireless networking is available, as well as Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, 10/100 Ethernet and a host of ports. These include four USB 2.0 ports, VGA and S-video, FireWire, the media card reader and an Express Card slot. A 56k modem is also installed.
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