The Toshiba Satellite Pro A210, the first model in the company's recently reintroduced line of budget business laptops, bears a striking resemblance to the consumer-oriented Satellite A215. In fact, the only real difference between the two is that the former lacks the glossy lid and multimedia controls found on the latter. The laptops' similarities extend to performance; the Satellite Pro A210's multitasking scores indicate that it's best suited for only basic business tasks. But that's about all you can ask from a laptop that costs less than $1,000, and the Toshiba's relatively sleek design and attractive display will definitely appeal to small-business buyers on a tight budget. Heavy-duty multitaskers who need Intel Core 2 Duo-level performance may also want to consider the similarly low-cost (but slightly smaller) Lenovo 3000 N200, while corporate buyers would be better served by the enterprise-level features found on Toshiba's more expensive Portege line.
|Price as configured / Starting price||$849 / $649|
|Processor||2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||120GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon X1200 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows XP Professional|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||14.3x10.5x1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6 / 6.9 pounds|
Like laptops in Toshiba's consumer Satellite line, the Satellite Pro A210 features a large Toshiba logo emblazoned in 0.75 inch silver letters across the lid. But the Pro version's exterior is more subdued than its consumer-oriented siblings. Its matte-black lid seems better suited to an office than the glossy blue-black finish on the consumer side. The Satellite Pro also lacks the bright blue glowing Satellite logo in the lower left-hand corner, which we were happy to see go. Otherwise, the Satellite Pro A210's case is very similar to that of the consumer-oriented Satellite A215. Though made of plastic, the Satellite Pro A210's case feels rather sturdy.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro A210 includes a 15.4-inch display that looks remarkably broad, thanks to the thin black bezel. Its fairly typical 1,280x800 resolution cut a nice balance between sharpness and readability of text. The screen's glossy, reflection-prone finish, while standard among consumer laptops, is a rarity for a business system. It's a curious choice, considering the gloss finish gives sharper color and contrast, usually for watching movies. We weren't distracted by the reflections, but because Toshiba offers no matte screen option, those who work in bright environments may want to invest in a screen protector. We like the single long hinge that runs almost the entire length of the display, which feels sturdier than the typical two-hinge setup on most laptops.
We were surprised that Toshiba left such a large frame around the keyboard of the Satellite Pro A210. Perhaps it seems larger than usual because of the absence of the media controls we're accustomed to seeing on consumer-oriented Satellites--or the application-launch keys and fingerprint reader we're accustomed to seeing on business systems. However, the interior of the laptop does have a very clean and minimalist look. The keyboard itself is full size, and the keys are comfortably soft and quiet. The touch pad and mouse buttons are likewise sufficiently large, but we wish the buttons weren't so close to the laptop's front edge. As it is, there's little support for your hand and wrist when you're navigating with the pad. We do like that the touch pad is slightly recessed, which kept us from accidentally grazing it while typing.
|Toshiba Satellite Pro A210||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA, S-Video||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
As indicated in the chart above, the Satellite Pro A210 provides exactly the ports and connections you would expect from a low-cost laptop. Unsurprising for a business system, the stereo speakers produced truly flat sound--users will need headphones to enjoy movies or music. Also, business travelers addicted to their wireless input devices should note the laptop lacks Bluetooth, even as an option. On the plus side, we appreciated the hardware volume wheel and Wi-Fi on-off switch on the laptop's front edge.
Toshiba currently offers three fixed configurations of the Satellite Pro A210: A $649 version is available only in retail stores, while the other two are available directly from Toshiba. We tested the most expensive, $849 version, which included a 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 dual-core processor, 2GB of 667MHz RAM, and integrated ATI Radeon X1200 graphics. The effects of the AMD processor were most pronounced on the Multimedia multitasking portion of CNET Labs' benchmarks, where it trailed its consumer-oriented sibling, the Satellite A215-S7437, as well as a field of laptops equipped with Intel's Core 2 Duo processor. Nevertheless, the Satellite Pro A210 posted decent scores on our other tests and, like any dual-core system, should provide sufficient performance for such typical business productivity tasks as managing e-mail, typing documents, and building presentations.
When it came to our battery tests, the Satellite Pro A210 offered a slightly disappointing 1 hour, 51 minutes of battery life. We would prefer to see a reasonably portable laptop like this one last beyond the 2-hour mark. That said, the Satellite Pro A210 did last 20 minutes longer than its consumer counterpart, the Satellite A215. Our DVD battery drain test is particularly taxing, so you can expect a slightly longer battery life during typical use.
Gone are the days when business-focused laptops ship with three-year warranties; the Satellite Pro A210's low cost means that it's backed by just a one-year parts-and-labor warranty. However, upgrades are reasonably priced: a three-year plan costs an extra $134, or $224 with on-site service. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)