The stylish Satellite A205 from Toshiba adds desirable extras such as draft 802.11n wireless connectivity and a DVD drive that burns artwork on your discs.
While the new A205 series of laptops from Toshiba isn't exactly a slouch in the design department, the most interesting stuff is really going on under the hood. The push toward increasing everyone's wireless speed to the newish 802.11n draft spec (as opposed to all those slowpokes with b/g Wi-Fi) gets another shot in the arm, as these are the first laptops from Toshiba to have the faster 802.11n technology (although not every model offers it). The 15.4-inch wide-screen A205 starts at around $1,000 and is available in several preconfigured models.
Almost more interesting than faster Wi-Fi speeds is the inclusion of something called Labelflash. That's Toshiba's name for DVD burners that can etch text and images directly onto your optical media. For years, Hewlett-Packard has offered something similar called LightScribe, and even though they require special (read: more expensive) blank media, you can turn out some really professional-looking results that put your Sharpie-labeled discs to shame.
The $999 Satellite A205-S4577 is the cheapest of the A205 systems, and skips the 802.11n action. Otherwise, it's a fairly standard set of specs, including an Intel Core 2 Duo T5300, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a basic DVD burner (no Labelflash, either).
Jumping up to the $1,349 Satellite A205-S4617 gets you a faster T5500 CPU, 2GB of RAM, a larger 250GB hard drive, upgraded Harman Kardon speakers, plus the 802.11n and Labelflash--making it well worth the extra $350 if you're interested in one of these configurations.
At the higher end, the $1,549 Satellite A205-S4639 upgrades from Vista Premium to Vista Ultimate, adds a second hard drive (it's only 280GB total, but the drives are of the faster 5,400rpm variety), and more important, adds Nvidia GeForce Go7300 graphics, beating out the integrated Intel 950 graphics in the other models.