The Good Ridiculously affordable; decent screen; handles streaming video well.
The Bad Slow, older CPU; thick and boxy; no Webcam.
The Bottom Line While it's hard to argue with a $350 laptop, the underpowered L305-S5955 is, basically, a Netbook in a larger case, with slightly better video playback.
Toshiba Satellite L305-S5955
Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Back-to-School roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
It's hard to hate a laptop that only costs $350. Indeed, decent televisions weren't even this cheap half a decade ago. The first question that pops into one's head when confronted with such an absurdly low number is, "What am I getting for that?" The second question is, "Can I get away with owning one?"
Toshiba's bottom-of-the-line entry-level laptop in our 2009 Back-to-School roundup is the cheapest machine in this collection, and that bears some attention. In fact, $350 is even cheaper than many Netbooks. For a 15.4-inch laptop, what comes under the hood? Last year's L305-S5875, which cost $675 and was housed in a nearly identical case, came with a 200GB hard drive, 3GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 1.86GHz Pentium Dual-Core T2390. Therein lies the difference: this year's L305 has a 160GB hard drive, only 2GB of RAM, and an inferior Celeron 900 processor for nearly half the cost. In essence, it has the guts of a Netbook in a 15.4-inch laptop's body (the earliest Netbooks actually used Celeron chips, before Intel release the Atom processor).
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