Toshiba Satellite M45
Based on appearance alone, everything about the mainstream Toshiba Satellite M45 seems fine: it has a good-looking case and plenty of perks, such as a broad screen and a built-in, double-layer DVD burner. Once you turn it on, however, it doesn't take long to detect an inexcusable defect: an extremely small battery that lasts less than half as long as most mainstream laptop cells. The Satellite M45's economical price offers some compensation for its puny battery, but if you're shopping for a basic laptop, consider spending a few hundred more on the Dell Latitude D510 instead.
The Toshiba Satellite M45's silver-and-black case measures 14.2 inches wide, 10.6 inches deep, and 1.1 inches thick, making it wider but thinner than its mainstream competitors, including the Latitude D510 and the ThinkPad R52. Both the Satellite M45 and the ThinkPad R52 weigh 5.9 pounds, and the Latitude D510 is a couple of ounces heavier. The Satellite M45's two-prong AC adapter tips the scales at a typical 0.7 pound.
Designwise, the Satellite M45 more than meets the needs of the typical SOHO user. Its sweeping 15.4-inch display features a 1,280x800 native resolution that allows for sharp graphics without making text too small to read. The system's keyboard is generously wide, as well. A large touch pad and two corresponding mouse buttons lie below the keyboard. The front edge contains two handy extras: a volume wheel and a Wi-Fi on/off switch, for turning off the wireless radio (when unneeded) to conserve battery life. Though the model we tested, the Toshiba Satellite M45-S165, doesn't incorporate any CD controls or programmable buttons, other Satellite M45 configurations offer both. We should also note that the Satellite M45 lacks the security measures found on some higher-end business notebooks.
The Satellite M45 features a standard assortment of ports and slots for a mainstream notebook: S-Video out, VGA, and three USB 2.0 ports; modem, Ethernet, headphone, and microphone jacks; and one Type II PC Card slot. Curiously, higher-end configurations of the laptop (which cost $200 to $530 more than the Satellite M45-S165) also include a FireWire port; one ExpressCard/54 slot; and a 5-in-1 flash media slot that reads all of the major types of tiny flash memory cards: Secure Digital, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, Smart Media, and xD.