"Awesome!! Get One!!"on by kuro
Pros Build quality, great screen, lightweight, features
Cons Skimpy user's manual
Summary After researching for over 6months, I finally found my perfect notebook. The M35 and M45 from last year wasn't that great, good features but were really slow (due to a slow HD I think.)
Good thing I waited. the M55 is truly what I was waiting for.
Features I wanted and got:
Memory (512MB in 1 slot with 1 open)
Good screen (14.1 Trubrite widescreen)
Multi memory card reader
Fast, large HD (5400rpm 100GB)
Features I didn't expect but got:
Express Media Player (no need to boot Win to playback CD/DVDs)
Harmon Kardon speakers (sounds awesome).
Small AC adapter brick (some laptop's can be over 1 lb so beware)
Feature I wanted:
Dedicated graphics adapter (it has a 128MB shared). I'm not a hardcore gamer so this wasn't truly important. For my business apps and net surfing, it's no problem.
Feature I didn't like:
The cover for the memory card reader is a rubber cap that can get easily lost. It's a minor issue.
I looked at HP's DV1000 and DV4000 series also. The 1000's screen is somewhat blurry; although I liked the remote control feature and lightweight. I didn't like all those backlit blue buttons near the screen; it's distracting when watching a movie. The 4000 feels solid but having a 15.4 in. screen, it's more of a desktop replacement rather than being carried around for work or internet cafes or for students.
I also pondered the Vaio FS series. The only thing that held me back was Sony's unrelenting use of it's proprietary Memory Stick format. (My digital camera and video camera both use SD cards.)If they had used a Multi memory card reader, I would've seriously considered their model since they look cool with features galore.
Oh yeah, looked at the Fujitsu models, too. They're impressive too but few retailers carry them so I couldn't do a "see, touch, feel" test.
Battery life is stated as 3.5 hours which is pretty normal. I was able to watch 2 DVDs on one charge (sorry, didn't time how long the movies were.)
Beautiful screen. No ghosting on DVD playback. Widescreen DVD movies did not fill the entire laptop screen (still black bars on top and bottom.)
Keyboard feels solid as does the overall build quality.
Just a note for those still hunting.
1. Bigger is not always better. Bigger screens means heavier laptops. Even 1 pound, combined with a heavy AC adapter can make your shoulder's cry. I think 14.1 inches is a good compromise for widescreens. Get a 15 inch if you want a 4:3 format.
2. Beware of battery life statements in reviews and ratings. Some laptops are rated as running 5+ hours. What the magazine fails to mention is that it's running an optional hi-capacity battery and not the included battery. (The reviewers run whatever the manufacturers send them.) Also, it's a given that batteries on a laptop with a 12 inch screen will run longer than one with a 14 or 15.4 inch screen. Screens use a lot of juice. Battery life is important to me but I hate working on a small screen...look for a compromise.
3. Beware of case design. Don't buy laptops with USB ports and/or fan vents on the right front of the casing. When you use a mouse, that's where your hand will be...tangled in 3 USB cables, burning from the hot air from the CPU vent. (Some Gateway models has this.)
4. Beware of heat. Play with the laptop at the store for about 5 minutes and feel the underside of the case. If it's hot to your hand, it'll feel even hotter on your lap.
I got mines at the guys in the yellow and blue. Great rebate from them ($150) and also from Toshiba direct($50). Bought the 3 year service plan which covers everything but get this...for $250, they'll send me a new battery every 6 months for 3 years!!! (Each battery is worth a $100 from Toshiba online.) How awesome is that??
Well, that's my 2 cents on the Toshiba. For what it's worth, if you're looking for a well balanced laptop with great features and reliability, you should get this laptop.
Hope this helps a bit. God knows I read everyone else's laptop reviews at CNET!
Pros Excellent widescreen LCD; quiet keyboard; great battery life; DVD+/-RW drive; excellent sound; 4 USB ports; relatively quiet operation
Cons Somewhat heavy for a thin-and-light laptop; design quirks; removable rubber cap on multimedia card slot; comes will too many trial programs installed
Summary If you're actually going to take advantage of all the multimedia goodies this laptop offers, then the $1400 you'll pay for it would be a sweet deal. But if you don't need 100GB of hard drive space and won't be burning DVDs, look elsewhere for a cheaper laptop with similar performance specs that will make it just as fast.
I got this Toshiba laptop with $300 worth of rebates, making the final price about $1100--certainly a great deal. It performs well and has never stuttered with its 512MB of somewhat slow, 333MHz DDR1 SDRAM.
In my experience so far, the 5400rpm hard drive helps a lot--programs load a lot quicker, especially when multitasking.
While the keyboard doesn't feel as comfortable as my older Toshiba Satellite A15-S129, it's much quieter, and sacrifices only some comfort. It may be important to note that, in a direct comparision, the M55-S325's keyboard feels a lot better than that of the HP Pavilion dv4000's or Dell's Latitude X200.
Once again, this laptop performs very quickly--and it doesn't take very long for it to restart when you need to. Charging the battery from zero to 100% takes about 4 hours, and battery life is approximately 3 hours under the "Normal" power-saving profile and moderate usage.
I am disappointed that this laptop has some design quirks. It's quite hard to explain, but its idiosyncracies in appearance prevent it from looking as great as it performs.
And, like many other manufacturers' laptops these days, there is a lot of trial software preinstalled on this laptop--plan on taking a couple of hours to uninstall these programs, and installing your own useful software and upgrading existing programs like RealPlayer, Quicktime and Acrobat Reader.
Pros Jack-of-all-trades, Master of ALL
Cons Battery life is not fantastic, but Toshiba's pre-installed power saver settings help a great deal
Summary I bought this at a computer fair, spur of the moment, as it was simply too good to miss at that price. I was a Fujitsu fan, and loved my 5 year-old E model, but I have absolutely no regrets. My model is actually M50-P345, came with 1.6GHz, 60Gb hard disk, 1Gb 533MHz DDR RAM, 256Mb X600SE ATI Radeon video RAM, and super dual layer +/- RW DVDRAM drive. It's got blue tooth, infra-red, firewire, S-video output, reads all my cards, even XD. The wireless and volume control are external - and I always forget that - which is very convenient.
The screen is quite bright even at the lowest brightness setting, so i have no problem working with the long life setting in Toshiba's power manager.
There are some more nice(?) touches. The sides and corners of the touchpad has got special functions like scrolling and page forward and back. There are also many other special function key settings, like instant change of screen resolution. While I have yet to get used to or master them - and sometimes the touchpad functions can be a tad irritating when they pop out uncalled for - I do appreciate the effort that Toshiba puts in to improve the interface. Some people will loathe such things, but I think I'll probably get used to and love them in due time.
The speakers are great, though the bass is a little weak, which is only to be expected of something so small. The built in SRS surround makes a truly audible difference, except when too much is asked of the bass.
I've owned it for a month, and I'm still trying to find anything else that I might want, and which it doesn't have, or doesn't do well.
Pros Excellent set of features, superb price
Cons preloaded with junk software
Summary I recently purchased a Toshiba M55-S325 for medical school for $1200 (after a $200 rebate) at Office Depot. Between its 100GB HDD, dual layer DVD burner, 1.73Ghz Pentium M, 512mb PC333, and 14" 1280x768 widescreen, this notebook was an unbeatable value at that price, and is quite light at only 5lbs. I also priced Dells, and to have gotten something similar would have easily been $400+ more. Mine even came with a green outer casing (green just happens to be my favorite color), altough I believe several colors are offered. Thankfully the 512mb DDR333 is a single module, and there's an easily accessible outer slot which makes upgrading to 1GB a snap. For $45 at Newegg, I purchased a second 512mb module and was up to 1GB. I'd actually recommend anyone looking at a notebook stick with the bare minimum ram offered and shop around for the memory on their own. It's a good way to save up to several hundred dollars on the cost of the notebook, as most manufacturers significantly overcharge. So basically for $1245, I had the equivalent of a $1600-1700 notebook.
My only real complaint is that comes preloaded with a great deal of junk software, only has XP Home, and Toshiba only offers a recovery disk as opposed to a real copy of XP. I realize this is standard operating procedure with many companies now, but it's still irritating. I wouldn't get too worked up about software though, as software is something that can easily be replaced/upgraded at any time. I'll probably get a real copy of XP pro at some point and install it. Gamers might want to look elsewhere. I find very little appeal in gaming on a notebook myself aside from strategy games; FPS gaming in particular really blows chunks on a laptop in comparison to desktop IMHO, and something like a GF6800go adds a lot of weight, jacks up the price, drains battery life, and generates a great deal of heat. In any event, this has an integrated intel GMA900 chip, which shares system memory and is pretty blah unless you only plan to play older or less intensive games, or don't play games at all. Even something super cheap and crappy like an X300 would be better. Still, I didn't buy this notebook to play games as I already have a great desktop and consoles for that purpose, and will likely no longer have time in grad school. I bought it to get work done, and it should work nicely for that purpose. Ultimately, this laptop has got it where it counts (the hardware is great), and the price is right. It's nearly perfect.Updated
I neglected to mention the H/K speakers. They sound quite good for notebook speakers, and aren't the typical tin-foily sounding crap usually found on notebooks. It also comes with four USB ports, which is quite generous, and will probably mean you'll never have a need for a USB hub.
Pros specs: for the money, you get a LOT of power; great screen size (not too big, so doesn't suck power or weight a lot; and not so small as to be annoying for games and movies)
Cons touchpad is sketchy
Summary This is one great laptop. It's my fourth Toshiba laptop and am generally very happy with toshiba products (only my second one had the hard drive die after a year; my first one is still around, after 7 years). I got this one for $950 after rebates from Circuit City (an amazing price). The computer is fast, looks good, and has tons of power. The battery is very good - lasts over 3 hours doing most things. It helps that you can have the screen at the lowest brightness due to the TruBrite screen, and conserve energy.
I like toshiba keyboards, and this one is no exception. Good sized and comfortable to type. However, mine clicks a little louder than I expected, but still ok.
The ability to watch movies and play CDs without turning the computer on is great. The H/K speakers are good, although could be louder (my last toshiba also had H/K speakers and were a little better/louder).
The computer is very solidly built; doesn't feel flimsy or easily breakable.
The only negatives: the touchpad has issues. It does weird things sometimes and it isn't the most responsive. But I use a mouse, so I avoid the problem, but if you'll depend a lot on the touchpad, it won't be fun.
Aside from that, I am not a fan of TruBrite - too much glare and reflections. While it looks great and makes things look amazingly clear, it is also very annoying when you can see yourself and everything behind you in certain lighting. I found myself having trouble watching a movie on the bus because of the glare. But that's a general gripe about TruBrite and has little to do with this model in particular.
All in all, this is a great computer and a great buy - highly recommended. I debated between this computer, the Toshiba m45, the Sony Vaio fs660 + fs640, and the dell 700m. While the Vaio sounded great, there were enough negative reviews about battery life that made me doubt paying the additional $400 for it. The same went for the m45 (battery life). As for the dell, it was a tiny screen and the specs weren't as good - and I don't really trust dell's service and products all that much.
This computer is just a great bargain and great laptop. Get it!