Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018 is a thoroughly average budget laptop. At $499, it undercuts two other budget retail-only laptops we've looked at, the Asus K60I-RBBBR05 and the Dell Inspiron i1545-4266IBU by $30, but the price break is the only advantage it has when viewed against its budget brethren. The Asus K60I offers the best feature set of the trio, but we prefer the Dell Inspiron i1545's design. The Satellite L505 is the bulkiest of the bunch, and you may have issues with the spacebar and touch pad. On the plus side, the dual-core Pentium processor provides decent performance, battery life is respectable, and the hard drive is blissfully free of bloatware.
|Processor||2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4400|
|Memory||3GB DDR3 SDRAM 800MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500M|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||15.1 x 10.2 x 1.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.0 / 6.7 pounds|
The Satellite L505D-ES5018 features Toshiba's Fusion finish, a look the company has used for the past few years. The lid is dark gray and the keyboard deck is silver, and both feature gently curved pinstripes. The laptop feels sturdy. The plastic chassis doesn't suffer from much flex, and a single, wide hinge keeps the display firmly rooted in place. Along with that sturdiness comes some bulkiness; the Satellite L505 measures 15.1 inches wide by 10.2 inches deep by 1.6 inches thick. It's about a half-inch wider and deeper than the Dell Inspiron i1545, and a few ounces heavier, weighing 6 pounds.
Toshiba manages to squeeze in a dedicated number pad to the right of the keyboard, but we're not sure how useful that is unless you spend the majority of your day entering numbers into Excel. In order to accommodate the number pad (and keep the four arrow keys at full width), the spacebar is shortened. It'll take some getting used to and some accidental Alt-key hits before typing feels natural.
The touch pad features a matte finish and a responsive feel, but it sits flush with the wrist rest. As a result, your palm is more likely to accidentally graze it and move the cursor. Most touch pads are slightly recessed to prevent your cursor jumping to and fro. We like the large mouse buttons, however, which offer good travel and none of the loud clack you get from many low-end laptops.
The 15.6-inch display features a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for the size. Movies and 720p HD video look good, and the glossy screen coating helps smooth edges and movement. The screen finish strikes a fine balance; it's not so glossy and keeps reflections and glare to a minimum. The LED-backlit display on the Asus K60I was a touch brighter, by way of comparison.
Above the display is a 0.3-megapixel Webcam. It's the same low resolution as the Asus K60I's Webcam. The low resolution means photos and videos top out at 640x480 pixels. The Dell Inspiron i1545 features a 1.3-megapixel Webcam that can capture higher-quality 1,280x1,024-pixel photos and videos.
Two oval speaker grills sit in each corner above the keyboard and give the impression of offering some audio oomph. Unfortunately, their sound is average at best. We're never blown away by integrated laptop speakers, but the Dell Inspiron i1545 offers louder, clearer audio than the Satellite L505 does.
|Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/ microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, USB/eSATA combo port, multi-format media card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The Toshiba Satellite L505 supplies a basic collection of ports and connections. Two USB 2.0 ports reside on the right side, next to the DVD burner. On the left side is a third USB port that doubles as an eSATA connection. On the front edge you'll find a multiformat media card reader and a volume dial. (The volume dial doesn't provide any corresponding graphics on the screen, so it's hard to tell where the volume level is when making an adjustment.) As with the competing Asus and Dell laptops, a VGA port is the only video-out option; you have to spend a bit more for a laptop with HDMI. Networking connections include 10/100 Ethernet and Wireless-N Wi-Fi. The 320GB hard drive is bigger than the 250GB drive in the Inspiron i1545 and smaller than the 500GB drive in the Asus K60I.
The Satellite L505 features the Intel Pentium T4400 processor, a dual-core chip clocked at 2.2GHz. It's found in many laptops because it is an entry-level dual-core processor that's a rung below Intel's venerable Core 2 Duo line that delivers excellent bang for the buck (it's basically a Core 2 Duo with half the L2 cache). Budget buyers will find that it provides more than enough muscle for general use, including heavy multitasking scenarios. It finished with a percentage point or two off the Asus K60I and the Dell Inspiron i1545 on CNET Labs' application benchmarks, not a surprising result given that all three feature the same Pentium T4400 processor. The Asus has 4GB of memory to the Toshiba's 3GB, but the Toshiba's memory is a faster 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM compared with 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM on the Asus. The difference in memory speed and type offset the difference in memory amount, according to our test results.
Though we have no trouble recommending a Pentium T4400-based budget laptop for general use, we would also point out that laptops with the Core i3 processor, one of the successors to the Core 2 Duo, cost only $100 more. For example, the Gateway NV7915u costs $599 and uses the Core i3 330M CPU. The Gateway finished our multitasking benchmark with a 32-percent-faster score than the Inspiron Satellite L505. That's a significant number when you consider the laptops are only $100 apart in price. The performance difference on single applications is less drastic: the Gateway finished the Photoshop and iTunes benchmarks 12 percent and 2 percent faster than the Inspiron Satellite L505, respectively.
|Satellite L505||Average watts per hour|
|Raw kWh Number||44.77|
|Annual power consumption cost||$5.08|
The Satellite L505 uses a standard six-cell battery and turned in a decent score of 3 hoursand 11 minutes on CNET Labs' demanding video playback battery drain test. It trailed only the Asus K60I, which was helped by its energy-efficient LED-backlit LCD. That's more than decent for a midsize budget-priced laptop.