Editors' note: This review is part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
By virtue of its broad, 17.1-inch display, the $699 Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7825 stands out among budget laptops (most of which feature 15.4-inch displays). And it is one of the cheapest 17-inch models around. But that feature is pretty much the only way the Satellite L355D-S7825 distinguishes itself; the rest of its feature set is merely adequate, its battery life below average, and (thanks to the inclusion of an AMD processor) its performance was consistently at the bottom of our benchmarks. If you want a basic 17.1-inch laptop at a low price, the Satellite L355D-S7825 will meet your needs. However, if you don't absolutely require the larger screen, we recommend you invest a little extra money to buy a 15.4-inch laptop with significantly better performance and battery life, such as the $749 Satellite A305-S6872 or the $799 HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr.
|Processor||2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60|
|Memory||3GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon X1250 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||15.7 x 11.5 x 1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.1 / 8 pounds|
Bypassing Toshiba's pin-striped Satellite case design, the Satellite L355D-S7825's lid is a glossy, solid indigo color (Toshiba calls it "onyx blue") and its interior is glossy black. The overall effect is subdued, but elegant--the laptop looks far more expensive than its $699 price. Both the lid and the base feature rounded corners that help the laptop appear smaller than it is; though its 7.1-pound weight places it in the mainstream category, the Satellite L355D-S7825 has a larger footprint than other mainstream laptops.
In exchange for taking up more space on your desk, the Satellite L355D-S7825 offers a broad, 17.1-inch wide-screen display. With a 1,440x900-pixel native resolution, the screen is great for Web browsing and watching movies; however, its glossy coating results in some distracting reflections when working in brightly lit environments.
We like the keyboard on the Satellite L355D-S7825; it's roomy and provides a comfortable typing experience. The laptop's broad case also provides space for a 10-key number pad, which can be useful for entering data or playing games. The touch pad is flush with the wrist rest but not so sensitive that you'll accidentally graze the pad while typing. Otherwise, the Satellite L355D-S7825's keyboard deck is an exercise in minimalism: there's no fingerprint reader or application-launch buttons, just a row of buttons across the top that control media playback and mute the sound. (Volume is adjusted with a handy wheel on the laptop's front edge.)
|Toshiba Satellite L355-S7825||Average for mainstream category|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Three USB 2.0, 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 with Labelflash||DVD burner|
The Satellite L355D-S7825 offers a rather basic feature set that's acceptable for a budget system. Toshiba does omit the mini FireWire and S-Video connectors we'd expect to see on a laptop of this size, but neither omission is glaring. However, we were disappointed in the laptop's stereo speakers, which emit just muddled sound; headphones are pretty much required for enjoying music or movies on this system.
A fixed configuration available only on retail shelves, the $699 Satellite L355D-S7825 incorporates a generous 3GB of RAM and a previous-generation 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor. On CNET Labs' benchmarks, the Satellite L355D-S7825 came in dead last on every performance test, trailing all the other systems in our group of budget retail systems for the holidays. The Satellite is the least expensive of the group, but if you're going to use your laptop for anything more than the most basic e-mailing and Web surfing, we suggest investing an extra $50 to $100 for a system based on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor, such as the Satellite A305-S6872 or the HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr.
The Satellite L355D-S7825's poky performance didn't even help preserve battery life; the laptop ran for just 1 hour, 51 minutes on our video playback drain test. That's a bit less than average for a midsize system, even for one with a 17-inch screen. Our video playback test is particularly taxing, so you can expect a bit more battery life during typical productivity work; just be sure to bring the power cord if you want to make it through a Hollywood movie.
Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the Satellite L355D. It's a mail-in warranty, but the company has a deal where you can just drop your system off for service at any UPS Store, and they'll pack it up and deliver it to the repair depot. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base and driver downloads.