Why is 3D in laptops still a novelty? Chalk it up to the extra cost of 3D technology, the awkwardness of wearing special glasses, and the lack of killer apps for the average user. Still, it's a current trend, and the technology has been in laptops far longer than it's been in devices like televisions and cell phones. While glasses-free 3D does exist, the best approach for computing is still active-shutter 3D. The $1,199 Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20 uses Nvidia 3D Vision to power its 3D effects using an included pair of active-shutter 3D glasses.
The Satellite P series is a line of mainstream, midrange to high-end 15.6-inch laptops. Toshiba offers a whopping 23 different configurations with various processors and specs (not all with 3D), starting at $699 and ranging up to $1,199 for the 3DV20.
The P755-3DV20 is definitely one of the least expensive 3D laptops we've seen recently. On the other hand, be ready to curb your expectations somewhat: since this Satellite P only has a 15-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, it's a far cry from the usual larger-screened 1080p 3D laptop. A Core i5 processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics are good enough for most mainstream games, but fall short of the top tier of processors and graphics seen in laptops like the Toshiba Qosmio X775-3DV78. Both 3D games and Blu-rays will still look good on the Satellite P755-3DV20, but they won't look as good. Better graphics especially make a difference with 3D games because the extra processing puts a strain on frame rate.
With 3D, we'd say the larger the screen, the better, so if you're already planning to spend the cash for a 3D laptop, we'd strongly suggest looking a little further up the ladder. However, if you're considering a 15-inch laptop with a good feature set and don't mind adding 3D to the mix, this could be for you.
|Price as reviewed||$1,199|
|Processor||2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M|
|Memory||4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||750GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GT 540M|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||15x9.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.9 pounds / 6.9 pounds|
The Toshiba Satellite P series replaces the Satellite A and M series. In design, it's a little like both those lines--in fact, most midrange Satellites look awfully similar. It's nearly the same design as the 14-inch Satellite P745D-S4240 we recently reviewed, except writ a bit larger to accommodate the 15.6-inch screen. Covered all over in glossy, silver-colored plastic (aka Fusion Finish in Platinum) with patterned horizontal lines, the surfaces look reasonably attractive while repelling fingerprints, but the whole affair is a bit thick in the chassis and heavy on the plastic.
A slightly recessed keyboard includes a full number pad. The squared-off raised keys are, as on most recent Toshiba laptops, comfortable enough for extended work, although the keys feel a little too soft for our tastes. Above the keyboard is a touch panel with LED-backlit controls to access battery mode, 3D on/off, Wi-Fi on/off, play/pause, and volume. The volume buttons emit loud beeps that get annoying fast, and the 3D and Wi-Fi buttons were finicky and didn't always seem to work.
The multitouch touch pad below the keyboard is made of a slightly more matte, smoother plastic than the surrounding palm rest material, and was large enough that we could move our fingers around comfortably. The curved silver plastic buttons beneath it click a bit stiffly and feel shallow, but at least allow for discrete right and left clicks. The touch pad is skewed a bit off-center, as many are on larger laptops with number pads, since the spacebar and letters are also shifted over a bit to the left. There's enough palm room on the left side, but still, we prefer centered laptops.
On either side of the top touch-control bar are Harman Kardon stereo speakers. We've tended to love Toshiba's midrange-to-high-end speakers, and these sound as good as any we've tested. There isn't a subwoofer, but games, movies, and music sound very good and crisp. Included Toshiba Sleep and Music technology allows iPhones or other devices to connect and play music off the speakers via a 3.5mm-headphone-to-line-in cable while the laptop is asleep or even turned off. The idea's great, but the speakers sound unamplified and less powerful in this mode than we expected.
The 1,366x768-pixel-resolution glossy 15.6-inch display has rich colors and good brightness, but the image washes out when viewed at off-axis angles. It's a very good screen for movies, but the smaller 15.6-inch viewing area becomes limiting with expansive 3D Blu-ray movies (which have a higher native resolution), especially since 3D removes a bit of the effective real estate on the sides.
The Nvidia 3D Vision technology built into this laptop provides 3D images to be viewed with the included and necessary Nvidia 3D Vision glasses, which have active LCD shutters inside. The glasses have a small power button and charge via an included USB cable. They fit easily over regular glasses and sync their signal with a built-in emitter on the top lid of the Satellite, to the right of the Webcam.
The 3D effect works with 3D Blu-rays if you use the included Blu-ray player, and with a wide variety of games, unlike the glasses-free Toshiba Qosmio F755-3D290, which currently only plays Blu-rays.
Games automatically convert to 3D once you've enabled 3D in a buried Nvidia control panel. After that, it's smooth sailing. It's great that so many older games work effortlessly with 3D, and the 3D looks colorful and sharp, although the screen brightness suffers considerably. We couldn't get 3D movies on YouTube to play because the current drivers weren't available yet for our Satellite model. That being said, Nvidia 3D Vision with glasses currently remains the best way to get 3D on a laptop, and we'd strongly recommend it over other options, including glasses-free, for now.
The included Webcam has a maximum resolution of 1,280x1024 pixels. Videos shot at resolutions above VGA looked choppy, and the Toshiba Webcam settings are on the generic side. We've seen better camera software.
|Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||1 USB 3.0, 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||Blu-ray player||DVD burner|
For $1,199, most people would expect an impressive set of laptop features, and the Satellite P755-3DV20 mostly delivers, with USB 3.0, Intel Wireless Display (not that you'll easily find it or likely use it), Bluetooth, and a BD-ROM drive for Blu-ray Disc playback.
An included 6GB of RAM and a 750GB, 5,400rpm hard drive exceed the mainstream laptop standard, although for more than $1,000, we'd expect it.
The 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M CPU in the Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20 is one of the most common mainstream processors we've seen in the last six months. Its performance is excellent for both single applications and multitasking, and it generally matches performance from other laptops with the same Core i5 processor, including the(our Satellite P755-3DV20 did better at multitasking, while the Inspiron did slightly better at single-tasking).
The Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics are fine for mainstream gaming--in fact, it's the same GPU we saw in the glasses-free Toshiba Qosmio F755-3D290. The GT 540M is a better fit with this laptop, considering the lower screen resolution and size, but performance falls short of higher-end enthusiast-level graphics cards such as the GTX 560M we tested in another recent Nvidia 3D Vision laptop, the more expensive Toshiba Qosmio X775-3DV78.