Thin-and-light laptops may look similar, but they're not all made the same. It's a deceptive world out there, especially since many thin-and-lights trade performance for a stylishly thin chassis, all while marketing a mainstream look that suggests performance equal to other notebooks.
The Toshiba T135 is part of Toshiba's new T100 line of optical-drive-free thin-and-lights, losing thickness in exchange for a portable design competitive with products such as the Asus UL30A-A1 and the Acer Timeline 3810T. It's set to debut on October 22, when Windows 7 launches its way onto retail shelves and into PCs everywhere.
Unfortunately, while the design tries hard, it simply doesn't provide the power that its Windows 7-running, HDMI-port-touting countenance suggests. This is not a multimedia machine on a budget; rather, it's a slim but underpowered single-core 13.3-inch laptop.
That's not to say we aren't excited about Toshiba's long-term decision to slim down its laptops and enter the world of thin-and-lights, and in other configurations, the T100 series could provide better value. But right now, we were left a little in the cold.
At $599, the T135-S1300 just didn't provide the value--or the design--that we'd need to see to recommend it more highly. While thin-and-lights like the Lenovo IdeaPad U350 have also used the same SU2700 Pentium ULV processor, the U350 had a body design that we found far more appealing. And other thin-and-lights, like the Asus UL30A have dual-core CULV processors that have much better performance for only $200 more. The T135S-1300 bridges the gap between Netbook and full laptop, but with its weak CPU, it affords the benefits of neither.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$599|
|Processor||1.3 GHz Intel Pentium SU2700|
|Memory||3GB, 800 MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel GM45 Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||12.7 x 8.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||13.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||3.76/4.46 pounds|
|Category||Thin and light|
From a casual overview, the T135-S1300 shares a number of design similarities to the rest of the Toshiba Satellite lineup that received an upgrade earlier this year. Covered inside and out in a glossy checkerboard Fusion Finish in either black, red, or white--ours was black--along with chrome highlights along the edge of the palmrest and on the trackpad buttons, it has a very slick appearance. However, that slickness continues literally to the keyboard, which is finished in the same glossy coating we've been less than enthusiastic about in other Satellites. While the T135 is thinner than Toshiba's thick midrange Satellites, such as the U505-S2940, it's still 1.4 inches thick.
The flat keyboard performs better than we remembered on larger Core 2 Duo models, but it still feels a bit too greasy. The trackpad is a matte rectangle inset along the glossy palmrest, and feels decent but not spectacular. The silver button-bar beneath is one continuous piece of plastic that toggles on either side for left or right clicks, but we always prefer distinct buttons instead. Other than the power button, there are no other buttons besides the standard keyboard, so control panel adjustments such as screen brightness are all handled with function-key combinations. Volume control is oddly relegated to a function combination with the 3 and 4 number keys, which took us forever to locate.
The 13.3-inch glossy LED-backlit screen on the Satellite T135-S1300 has a 1,366x768 native resolution, sharp colors, and good brightness, and it looked perfectly crisp in our use. Above the screen is a Webcam that took fair video, but grainy and low-resolution snapshots. More disappointing were the Satellite T135-S1300's speakers, which were buried somewhere inside the body, below the keyboard, emanating from a nonspecific place. The volume at maximum was so soft and tinny as to be practically worthless. We had issues with Toshiba's Netbook speakers, but their midrange speakers were generally exceptional. This was a big letdown.
|Toshiba Satellite T135-S1300||Average for category [thin and light]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 2.0/sleep and charge, SD card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||None||DVD burner|
Technically, the T135-S1300 leaves nothing to be desired as far as ports and features. In addition to a sleep-and-charge USB port, there's also an SD card reader and an HDMI port. Which raises the question: why include an HDMI port? To have one suggests the T135-S1300 is an HD-savvy laptop. That's hardly the case. While video files tended to play borderline passably, streaming full-screen video from sites such as Hulu came in extremely choppy, and that was in low-res mode. While it's true that HDMI is fast becoming a universal CE standard, we're not exactly sure what you would use the included HDMI port for.
Our T135 config had a 250GB hard drive, 3GB of DDR3 RAM, and an Intel Pentium SU2700 processor. The T135 can also be configured with an SU4100 processor, and we're curious as to whether this would improve the performance, and by how much. Our T135 also had Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed, as it's a launch laptop for Microsoft's new operating sytstem. Windows 7 was a good experience on this machine, which further convinces us of Win7's versatility.