Toshiba Satellite 5200 review: Toshiba Satellite 5200

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.9
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 6.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Runs Windows XP Media Center Edition; includes built-in TV tuner and DVD burner; big screen; good speakers for a notebook.

The Bad Size and weight make travel inconvenient; short battery life; one-year warranty.

The Bottom Line The Satellite 5205-S705 is designed from the ground up for digital entertainment--just don’t expect to take this show on the road.

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Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705

Have you ever hopped on a flight with a television tucked under your arm? Well, now you can, thanks to the Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705. This desktop replacement comes with Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE), which essentially turns your laptop into a TiVo. You can watch live TV, browse through the Program Guide for available shows, schedule shows to record, and play back recorded shows either at home or on the road. But we can't help but question the point of a portable equipped with MCE. Don't get us wrong: the Satellite 5205-S705 is generally a stellar notebook, and MCE takes a big stride toward merging computers with mass media, especially television. But is it worth $2,700 to equip a portable with a special feature--the ability to record and replay television--that works only when the machine's plugged into a fistful of cables? We think MCE just makes more sense on a desktop PC that stays in one place.

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The notebook features a firm and quiet keyboard.
Toshiba did a great job of designing a tightly integrated system. The Satellite 5205-S705 weighs a chunky 8.1 pounds (9.2 pounds with its AC adapter). The case measures a big 13 inches wide by 11.5 inches deep and expands from 1.5 inches thick in front to 2.25 inches in back. The large case means that Toshiba can pack in a lot of hardware, including a 15-inch (diagonal) screen and two internal drive bays--one with a fixed DVD burner and the other with a removable television tuner. The television tuner pops out to make room for a $149, 3,600mAh second battery, but you're better off paying $30 less for a spare main battery, rated at 6,300mAh. Because the main battery barely cracked two hours in CNET Labs' battery-life tests, you'll consider this money well spent.

A single clasp holds the lid shut, and it opens easily with one hand. Because the lid sits on a long, necklike stalk, the Harman Kardon speakers jut up from the back edge and remain exposed when you close the notebook. Great speakers (for a notebook) have been a hallmark of this series, and the Satellite 5205-S705 is no exception. The limited support for the lid means that the display slightly wiggles when you type. The front edge of the notebook includes a small LCD with status lights, a volume dial, and a row of CD/DVD control buttons. The speakers sound rich and lifelike, and they're surprisingly loud for a notebook. The notebook also features a quiet and firm keyboard with big keys. But the key depth is so short that we didn't always know whether we had hit the character. Also, like other Toshiba notebooks, the Insert key sits right next to the spacebar, a touch typist's worst nightmare.


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The DVD Multi drive lets you burn DVD-R/-RWs, as well as CDs.
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The CD/DVD control buttons on the front edge of the notebook provide quick access to the notebook's multimedia features.


One design constraint: Because the main battery fills the notebook's back edge, Toshiba must fit all of the ports along the side edges. While not a catastrophe, you could have unsightly and sometimes inconvenient cables jutting out from the sides of the notebook. In addition to an IrDA, a video-out, a four-pin FireWire, and three USB 2.0 ports, there's also a Type II PC Card slot, an Ethernet connection, a 56Kbps modem, and a Secure Digital card slot. The notebook also offers built-in 802.11b wireless networking, with an on/off button on the left edge. The television tuner has a port of its own for connecting your television or a set-top cable box using the included coaxial adapter.
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The included remote control lets you operate many of the notebook's features from the couch.
Toshiba includes quite a collection of wires and cables with the Satellite 5205-S705, including a long coaxial cable for connecting your set-top cable box to the built-in TV tuner. You can then plug in the bagel-size infrared receiver attached to a 12-foot-long USB cable and use Toshiba's big remote control to operate almost all of the features of Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE). With MCE, you can surf channels, record programs, play music or DVDs, and browse through your photo archive. Of course, with its various cables, you can see why packing the Satellite 5205-S705 for travel would be inconvenient. We'd rather have all of the MCE features built into a docking station so that you could just pop the notebook out and hit the road with your recorded television shows conveniently stashed on the hard drive.

Did we mention that the Satellite 5205-S705 would make a fine desktop replacement without the MCE angle? It would indeed, although its performance and battery life fall behind those of some other high-end notebooks. It runs on a muscular, 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M processor and includes 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. The 15-inch screen and the Nvidia GeForce FX Go5600 graphics controller with 64MB of memory deliver stunning saturated colors and excellent detail. With a native resolution of 1,600x1,200, text looks crisp but somewhat small on a 15-inch display; you may have to squint or sit close to the screen when you read.

Toshiba packs the notebook with lots of software. Not surprisingly, you get plenty of video software, including Panasonic MotionDV Studio, DVD Fun Studio LE, and DVD-Movie Album SE. It also comes with Microsoft Works 7.0, Intuit Quicken 2003 New User, and several pieces of Toshiba system-management software, such as ConfigFree Connectivity Doctor for troubleshooting network and wireless connections and Toshiba Console for configuring the touchpad, the default applications, the function buttons, and other basic settings.
Mobile application performance
The Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705 placed second in our small roundup of desktop-replacement notebooks. The Satellite 5205-S705 shares the same 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M processor as the Dell Inspiron 8500, but the Toshiba scored significantly lower in mobile performance. The Toshiba Power Saver utility, which regulates CPU speed and overall system power, is one likely culprit for the disappointing results. The Power Saver utility may throttle the Satellite 5205-S705's CPU speed to lower than the Inspiron 8500's, which uses Intel SpeedStep technology to regulate its CPU speed. Still, the Satellite 5205-S705 offers enough speed for office and multimedia apps.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Dell Inspiron 8500
159 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
123 
Sony VAIO GRV680
101 
 
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

SysMark2002 performance
In maximum-performance tests, the Satellite 5205-S705 and the Inspiron 8500 ran neck and neck, with no appreciable difference between the two. The Sony VAIO GRV680, on the other hand, beat both systems due to its faster 2.6GHZ Pentium 4 desktop processor. In a plugged-in state (where Toshiba's Power Saver utility isn't a factor), the Satellite 5205-S705 showed its true performance colors.

Maximum application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content creation  
SysMark2002 office productivity  
Sony VAIO GRV680
223 
315 
158 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
206 
298 
143 
Dell Inspiron 8500
205 
301 
140 
 
To measure maximum notebook application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D graphics performance
The Satellite 5205-S705 houses the Nvidia GeForce FX Go5600 with 64MB of memory. It is the first notebook we've tested with a GeForce FX graphics adapter and support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0. Although armed with this powerful graphics chip, the system scored lower than the Inspiron 8500, which houses the Nvidia GeForce4 4200 Go with 64MB of memory and support for DirectX 8.x. The Satellite 5205-S705 may have scored lower because our 3D benchmark test, 3DMark2001 Pro SE, was not written to take advantage of the more-advanced DirectX 9.0 commands. Still, the Satellite 5205-S705 easily handles the current games on the market and stands ready to take advantage of future games, as well.

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE  
Dell Inspiron 8500
9376 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
8533 
Sony VAIO GRV680
7422 
 
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop-replacement-notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.


System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 8500
Windows XP Home; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 4200 Go 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Sony VAIO GRV680
Windows XP Home; 2.6GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 64MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
Windows XP Media Center Edition; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5600 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm
With its 10.8V, 6,300mAh (68WHr) battery, the Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705 lasted just more than two hours. The Dell Inspiron 8500, which houses the same 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M processor, lasted nearly an hour longer, using a slightly better, 11.1V, 6,480mAh (72WHr) battery. The Toshiba Power Saver utility, which regulates overall system power, may share part of the blame for the notebook's disappointing battery life.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life (in minutes)  
Dell Inspiron 8500
178 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
129 
Sony VAIO GRV680
106 
 
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.


System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 8500
Windows XP Home; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 4200 Go 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Sony VAIO GRV680
Windows XP Home; 2.6GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 64MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705
Windows XP Media Center Edition; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4-M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5600 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm
Toshiba's printed documentation is a mess: there's a 50-page manual, along with 16 other pieces of documentation--some of them one-pagers describing a particular bug or how to dispose of used batteries. The onscreen manual, on the other hand, provides 320 pages of carefully composed detail about every aspect of using the notebook, except one: It has an informative chapter on Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition itself, but the manual fails to explain all of the possible setup combinations. You can find some of this information on Toshiba's Web site, and some of it should be basic knowledge for anyone who's literate in home-entertainment systems.

Considering the Satellite 5202-S705's high price tag and experimental nature, we found the one-year warranty to be inadequate. You can pay extra for one of several warranty-upgrade packages; the top-of-the-line package includes three years of next-day, onsite service for $397. Out-of-warranty tech-support calls cost a steep $35. Also, Toshiba's policy on replacing LCDs with defective pixels is among the harshest in the industry. The company does, however, offer 24/7 tech support via a toll-free line.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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Where to Buy

Toshiba Satellite 5205-S705

Part Number: PS522UXK00QR Released: Jul 3, 2003

MSRP: $2,599.00

This product is not currently available. Click here for Toshiba's latest offerings

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 3, 2003
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • CPU Intel Pentium 4-M 2.4 GHz
  • Color Black
  • Weight 7.9 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD-RW / DVD-RAM - fixed
  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5600 - 64 MB DDR SDRAM