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Toshiba Satellite 1130-S155 review: Toshiba Satellite 1130-S155

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MSRP: $1,249.00
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The Good Fast; inexpensive; well equipped.

The Bad Limited configuration options; mushy keyboard and mouse buttons.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Satellite 1135 provides fast computing and a big screen for not much dough, but there are a few trade-offs.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7
  • Support 8

Review Sections

Intro

Toshiba doesn't offer many configurations on the low-cost, mainstream Satellite 1135, nor does it provide much in the way of options, but if you can make this notebook fit your needs, you'll really get your money's worth. For one thing, the less-than-$1,100 notebook beats the pants off other laptops running the same processor at the same clock speed, including the Dell Inspiron 1100. For another, it comes with a big (though not high-resolution) screen, a built-in combo DVD/CD-RW drive, plenty of memory, and all the accoutrements for Wi-Fi except a radio in the standard model (an 802.11b-flavor radio adds $100 to the price tag.) If you don't have a corporate IT department to requisition your computers and you have to pay your own way, the Satellite 1135 makes a lot of sense. The Toshiba Satellite 1135 uses basically the same shell as that of the Satellite 2435, which we reviewed recently. It's a roomy case, spreading out 13 inches wide by 11 inches deep, and it stands 1.75 inches high, making plenty of room for the Satellite 1135's 15-inch (diagonal) display. The 6.6-pound slab (7.5 pounds with the AC adapter) has beveled edges all the way around, making it comfortable to carry and giving the dark blue, glossy lid and black base a certain angular panache. The size and weight are about average for a mainstream notebook.

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The keyboard sags and the Insert key is in a precarious location next to the spacebar.
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The mouse buttons could be more responsive.

The Satellite 1135's front-loading optical drive doesn't slide into a swappable bay, unfortunately. Instead, like most mainstream desktops, the Satellite 1135 offers only a fixed drive, which means it doesn't pop out to make room for an auxiliary battery or a different drive. Hence, you might want to carry an extra main battery when you travel, which adds another pound to your travel weight, costs $149, and should replicate the three hours working time of the battery that CNET Labs tested.

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The combo drive is fixed (not swappable).

While there are many admirable aspects of the Satellite 1135, some design decisions--namely, the crummy keyboard and touchpad--detract from the user experience. The left- and right-click mouse buttons feel mushy instead of responsive, the keyboard sags, the keys wobble, and the Insert key sits right next to the spacebar--an common location on Toshiba notebooks--which makes it more likely for you to accidentally hit it and delete text as you type. Speaking of the spacebar, it's only four keys wide, even though there's plenty of room to make it bigger. In addition to the Insert key's precarious location, the Start menu key hides away in the keyboard's upper-right corner. Also, we noticed that the touchpad, while accurate if treated very gently, stops dead when you press with more than a feather touch. (There's no pointing stick on the Satellite 1135).
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The screen is big, but some of the colors seem washed out.

The Satellite 1135 features a Celeron processor running at 2GHz, 512MB of memory as standard equipment, and a 40GB hard drive. Toshiba equips the notebook with standard ports and connections along the edges, including dual Type II PC Card slots, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, a modem, S-Video, and a button to turn the Wi-Fi wireless networking on and off if you decide to include Wi-Fi when buying from Toshiba.com. Stereo speakers, which unfortunately deliver weak audio, sit on the sides near the front edge.

The 15-inch screen defaults to 1,024x768 resolution, which is really more appropriate for 12-inch and 14-inch screens. It seems stingy not to paint more pixels on such a big screen. Plus, the screen didn't impress us greatly. It's bright enough, but even so, blues look gray, and other colors appear slightly washed out. Also, the viewing angle is so narrow that you'll notice that the edges start to fade when you're facing the middle of the screen head-on.

You can choose between Windows XP Pro or XP Home. Considering the Satellite 1135's modest price, however, Toshiba's software bundle is fairly generous, including Microsoft Works and Intuit's Quicken Basic.
In a small test group of mainstream notebooks, the Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155 came out on top in performance by a significant amount, beating two systems that have similar specs. Where the specs differ, however, is in the amount of system RAM: the Satellite 1135-S155 has 512MB of SDRAM compared to 256MB of SDRAM in the Dell Inspiron 1100 and the HP Pavilion ze4200. Thanks to this abundance of system memory, the Satellite 1135-S155 is able to push its performance to a fairly good level.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155
128 
Dell Inspiron 1100
103 
HP Pavilion ze4200
102 

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 1100
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82845G Graphics Controller 64MB; IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

HP Pavilion ze4200
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 340M 32MB (shared); Fujitsu MHS2030AT 30GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 512MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82852GM Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK4018GAS 40GB 4,200rpm
Since each of the notebooks in this small test group has the same processor, we looked almost exclusively at the battery specs when determining why one system lasted longer than the others. The Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155 came in second place, with a little more than three hours of battery life, thanks to its 14.8V, 4,300mAh battery. The Dell Inspiron 1100, with its 14.8V, 6,450mAh battery, came in first, and the HP Pavilion ze4200 came in last because of its smaller 10.8V, 4,500mAh cell. While the Satellite 1135-S155's battery life isn't world shattering, it is decent for a mainstream notebook.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life in minutes  
Dell Inspiron 1100
240 
Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155
183 
HP Pavilion ze4200
165 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 1100
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82845G Graphics Controller 64MB; IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

HP Pavilion ze4200
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 340M 32MB (shared); Fujitsu MHS2030AT 30GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Celeron; 512MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82852GM Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK4018GAS 40GB 4,200rpm
The standard warranty for the Satellite 1135 runs for one year, which is adequate considering the low purchase price, and it includes a year of free, toll-free, 24/7, live-human tech support. Plus, you can extend the warranty to three years for a reasonable $129.

Toshiba's excellent documentation includes a big card that gives you an overview of the system; a 40-page booklet with information on power management, adding memory, using the touchpad, and so on; and a 250-page PDF file with detailed information on using Windows XP, the Internet, as well as the notebook's CD-RW capabilities and other features. Toshiba also installs software that links to extensive support information on the company's Web site.

One warranty negative: Toshiba doesn't consider a screen bad enough to replace unless it has up to 18 pixel defects of some kind. Other notebook makers have much more lenient policies. For instance, the replacement threshold for HP's new Compaq nc4000 is more than one green stuck pixel or more than two red or blue stuck pixels.

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