Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba Satellite L300 (PSLB0A-02M02)
- Well built, built-in webcam, roomy hard drive, good connectivity options
- Slow, single-core CPU
The overall build quality, decent feature-set and low price of the Satellite L300 make it a great choice for anyone after a new notebook for the classroom, office or home.
Price$ 849.00 (AUD)
Due to economies of scale, this 15.4in Satellite L300 is very affordable. Toshiba makes so many of these particular notebooks, the company practically gives you money back when you buy it (you get $150 cash back) for its $849 retail price. The 15.4in size is the sweet spot for notebooks these days, according to Toshiba, as it offers the best bang for your buck. We tend to agree. This particular model, even though it only carries a single-core Celeron CPU in its chassis, is well-suited for browsing the Web, running productivity applications, and even playing DVDs and other video files.
Of course, it's a big notebook, so it's got large keys (except for the function and delete keys) and a spacious palm-rest area, which make typing very comfortable. Because it's a budget model, you won't find any extras such as application and media shortcut keys, nor a fingerprint scanner. You get the mere basics with this model — it even ships with Windows Vista Basic edition — but those basics include a roomy 120GB, 5400rpm hard drive, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a DVD burner. It's got everything you should need in the short-term, and it includes one ExpressCard/54 expansion slot, too, as well as three USB 2.0 ports. For networking, you get a 10/100 Ethernet port, as well as 802.11b/g wireless networking.
It's not devoid of niceties completely though: you'll still get a memory card reader (for SD and MemoryStick cards), a switch to disable the wireless connection, a manual volume control and a webcam with 0.3-megapixel resolution. Furthermore, the screen is very bright and has reasonably wide viewing angles. However, its 1280x800 resolution doesn't leave much room for multiple open windows. Its touchpad navigation device has a very slippery surface and is easy to use. It complements the keyboard nicely.
Physically, there's not much wrong with this notebook as it's very easy to use. Nor are its specifications bad, except for the single-core 2GHz Celeron CPU.
Straight-line speed is not one of the Celeron CPU's strong points. This was shown in the iTunes encoding test, where it took an agonising 4min 28 sec to convert 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, and also in our WorldBench 6 test suite, in which the Adobe Photoshop photo editing and Autodesk 3ds Max 3-D rendering tests took approximately three times longer to complete than a typical Core 2 Duo-based notebook. However, the responsiveness of the notebook in general Windows tasks and office applications is mostly swift, and this was backed up by the overall score of 51 in WorldBench 6. If you're not ripping a CD or doing some other CPU-intensive task in the background, you will be able to multitask without noticing much of a slow-down.
Away from an outlet, the Satellite lasted 1hr 31min, but this is a worst-case scenario in which we run a DVD without a power management profile enabled. With power management and lower screen brightness, you should be able to get around 2hrs or more out of it. The chassis doesn't get overly warm during regular use with office applications, nor is it too loud, although there is an audible extraction fan on its left side that kicks in at regular intervals.
As for mobility, the notebook weighs approximately 2.6kg, so it's not too heavy to be lugged around; it's more the 15.4in size that makes it inconvenient to carry unless you have a comfortable bag. But if you do take it on the road, you can use it for work, watching movies and listening to music. Its stereo speakers provide relatively loud volume that will fill up a room nicely, and they produce decent quality low- and high-frequency responses.
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