Toshiba Satellite M65
The copper-colored Toshiba Satellite M65-S821 seeks to serve home and small-business users who want a solid multimedia laptop without the exorbitant cost. This $1,499 midsize laptop offers niceties such as a sweeping 17-inch wide-screen, a double-layer DVD burner drive, and multimedia controls. It also provides plenty of performance for multimedia tasks, and it has a long battery life, though it's a bit too big for regular travel. A few things you won't get with the Satellite M65 are Windows XP Media Center Edition and a built-in TV tuner; for these and other cutting-edge technologies, check out the more expensive . The , priced similarly to the Satellite M65, also offers an XP Media Center option.
The Toshiba Satellite M65's case is 15.5 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 1.46 inches thick, placing it on the cusp between the midsize and desktop-replacement categories. The Toshiba weighs 7.4 pounds, which is about a pound lighter than a few other multimedia-oriented, desktop-replacement portables with 17-inch screens: the 8.4-pound VAIO VGN-AX570G, the 8.2-pound Dell Inspiron E1705, and the 8.3-pound . The Satellite M65's AC adapter adds another 0.7 pound to its travel weight.
Big laptops can accommodate supersize features, and the Satellite M65 has an awesome 17-inch, wide-aspect display with a reflective coating that helps colors really pop by preventing extra light from infiltrating the screen; its 1,440x900 native resolution is more often found on 15.4-inch wide-screen displays and is less fine than the 1,900x1,200 found on the Inspiron E1705's screen. The Satellite M65 also features a wide keyboard, a dedicated numeric keypad (as does the Pavilion dv8000), and a large touch pad. Toshiba takes a nontraditional approach with the Satellite M65's mouse buttons, molding them out of a single, long piece of black plastic with a split in the middle to indicate where the left button ends and the right begins. We like the visual effect, but we wish the buttons were a bit bigger. Four superhandy multimedia controls (play, stop, forward, and back) sit above the keyboard, along with two programmable application buttons. On the front edge, a convenient volume wheel lies between the two full-sounding Harman Kardon speakers. The final design highlight of note is the useful wireless on/off switch for the integrated Intel Pro/Wireless 802.11b/g card. While the Satellite M65 lacks the built-in TV tuner found on other multimedia laptops, such as Toshiba's higher-end , its design should satisfy most casual media users.
The Toshiba Satellite M65 offers fewer connectors than the most tricked-out multimedia laptops, which will affect gadget junkies who like to attach everything under the sun to their systems. The collection consists of three USB 2.0 ports, four-pin FireWire, S-Video out, 56Kbps modem, 10/100 Ethernet, headphone, and microphone jacks. The list also contains one each of Type II PC Card, Express Card, and 5-in-1 flash-memory card slots. Competitors' systems, such as the Pavilion dv8000 and the Inspiron E1705, include all those, plus more USB 2.0 ports. At least Toshiba didn't skimp on secondary storage, integrating a sweet double-layer, multiformat DVD burner into the case.
Toshiba loaded up our evaluation machine with the Windows XP Home operating system; though you can also get the Satellite M65 with Windows XP Pro, the multimedia OS du jour--Windows XP Media Center Edition--is not an option. Toshiba also throws you a few software bones, but the bundle is nothing compared to the excellent multimedia apps included with a laptop such as the Sony VAIO VGN-AX570G.
The Satellite M65 that we tested came equipped with mostly prior-generation parts. The selection included a 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740 processor; 512MB of fast 533MHz memory; a massive 120GB hard drive spinning at a midrange 5,400rpm; and an integrated Intel 915GM graphics chip that lacks its own VRAM and will borrow up to 128MB of main memory. Brand-new multimedia systems such as the Dell Inspiron E1705 offer the very best of everything, including Intel Core Duo processors, faster memory, and discrete graphics chips; however, those systems typically cost several hundred dollars more than the Satellite M65.
In CNET Labs' mobile performance tests, the Satellite M65 used its parts to the fullest, more or less matching the HP Pavilion dv8000's results and finishing just 14 percent behind more expensive models such as the Dell Inspiron E1705--both of which carried faster processors, more memory, and dedicated graphics chips. That said, all of these systems offer enough speed to tackle any basic multimedia task. In our Labs' battery-drain tests, the Toshiba's 4-hour, 13-minute time beat the pants off both the Dell's 2 hours, 29 minutes and the HP's 3 hours, 32 minutes.