Toshiba's MacBook competitor comes up short

The 13-inch Toshiba U405 falls short as a MacBook alternative.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
Toshiba's 13-inch U405.

With Apple's MacBook so popular and well-regarded, we're always surprised that there aren't more 13-inch laptops out there. After all, one of the reasons the MacBook resonates so well with people is because its 13-inch size hits the perfect balance between portability and usability. Put another way, a 13-inch laptop is the biggest we'd consider carrying around on a regular basis, and the smallest we'd consider usable as our main everyday computer.

We've already seen one new 13-inch that was an impressive MacBook alternative, the HP Pavilion dv3510nr, which offered a backlit keyboard, a 320GB hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce 9300 GPU, a tiny remote control, and an HDMI port -- all for $1,099.

Less impressive was another recent 13-inch laptop, the Toshiba U405D-S2874. This model was only $100 less than the HP, but had a much slower AMD processor, a smaller hard drive, integrated graphics, and none of the cool extras, such as the backlit keyboard and remote control. It's still worth noting that both of these laptops are still less expensive than the standard $1,299 MacBook.

Both are part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, which compares specific new configurations of popular laptops found in retail stores, making it easy to see which systems give you the best bang for your buck.

Read the full review of the Toshiba U405D-S2874.