In an age where sleek Pentium-M notebooks are starting to dominate the scene, Toshiba's Satellite A25 stands out as an anachronism. Though recently released, it is a clunky dinosaur that's heavy and slow, and it lacks some of the basics needed for mobile survival.
At 13.4 by 11.6 inches, the tapered A25-S279 has flowing lines, with no sharp edges. It measures 2.2 inches at the back and narrows to 1.8 inches in the front. It weighs in at 7.9 pounds, but with its huge AC adapter, it has a travel weight of 9.2 pounds, at least 1 pound heavier than IBM's ThinkPad R50 and Fujitsu's LifeBook N.
The components beneath the system's matte-black-and-blue exterior are a step or two down the technology ladder: a 2.8GHz desktop Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a combo DVD/CD-RW optical drive. Its 15-inch XGA screen is fed with pixels from a Trident Cyberblade XP2 accelerator with 32MB of memory that can run an external monitor or projector at up to 2,048x1,536 resolution in full color.
For those who must type on the road, the A25's saving grace is the inclusion of an excellent keyboard. Responsive and firm, with roomy 19.4mm keys, the keyboard has a generous 2.7mm stroke. A large silver touchpad with a pair of actuation buttons rounds out the input options, but the A25 does without a scroll button.
The notebook also has a nice audio offering. With an Analog Devices SoundMax audio chip and a pair of top-firing speakers, the A25-S279 has a surprisingly strong sound system, easily controlled by a well-hidden volume thumbwheel and a set of CD controls up front.
There are ports aplenty on the A25-S279, starting with a trio of USB 2.0, parallel, and audio plugs. In addition, the A25-S279 has external monitor and S-Video-out ports, as well as a modem, Ethernet, and an 802.11g wireless radio. The Type II PC Card slot is augmented by a Secure Digital card reader for those who like to travel with their digital camera or MP3 player. Forget about editing video on the road, though: the A25-S279 lacks a FireWire outlet.
After a thorough workout with our benchmarks, the A25-S279 comes up short on performance with a meager score of 67 on our MobileMark 2002 test; that's 70 percent slower than the LifeBook N. The bright spot is the A25-S279's humongous 8,400mAh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers the machine for 3 hours, 38 minutes between charges but can take 3.5 hours to charge.
Ready to get down to business, the A25-S279 comes with a variety of programs, including Windows XP Home, Intuit Quicken 2003, Norton AntiVirus 2003, and Microsoft Works. While the A25-S279 model we looked at can't be customized, you can have other versions with a 2.66GHz processor; up to 1GB of memory; and a 40GB, 60GB, or 80GB hard drive, although none of those are high-performance 5,400rpm models. An optional DVD-RW drive costs an extra $300 and a DVD-Multidrive adds $350. The A25-S279's $1,499 price tag is on a par with that of the latest systems from Fujitsu and HP, but it's $50 less than Dell's Inspiron 5150, which has a higher-resolution screen.
Toshiba is renowned for its global technical support, but the A25-S279 comes with just a one-year warranty, although two extra years of coverage cost just $64. The company's Web site is a smorgasbord of helpful tips, software downloads, and manuals. Everything is neatly organized by model, so getting exactly what you want is a snap, and you can always call the company's toll-free, 24/7 support line or drop e-mail to Toshiba.
Mobile application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Battery life (Longer bars indicate better performance)