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Toshiba Satellite A70/75 review: Toshiba Satellite A70/75

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The Good Speedy; spacious 15.4-inch screen; handy CD-control buttons; 802.11b/g Wi-Fi.

The Bad Middling battery life; not customizable.

The Bottom Line If battery life isn't a primary concern, the Toshiba Satellite A75-S206 is a good mainstream laptop.

Visit for details.

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

Toshiba Satellite A75-S206

The Satellite A75-S206 offers the lowest price of Toshiba's 2004 back-to-school laptops, but by no means does this mainstream laptop look cheap. In fact, this solid system includes bells and whistles, such as a wide 15.4-inch display and dedicated CD-control buttons, typically found on more expensive laptops. And the Toshiba Satellite A75-S206's virtues extend to performance: its mobile Pentium 4 processor rocked CNET Labs' benchmarks. Unfortunately, our Labs' battery drain tests revealed less exciting news: the Satellite A75-S206's battery cut out more than two hours sooner than the mainstream Dell Inspiron 1150's. If you value very long battery life at minimal cost, Dell's Inspiron 1150 is a great catch. If speed and screen space are your top priorities, go with the Satellite A75-S206 instead. Deviating from the banality of black, Toshiba gave the Satellite A75-S206 a royal blue lid. The effect is nice--if you like blue--but we wish the company offered snap-on lid covers in different colors. The Toshiba Satellite A75-S206 weighs 7.7 pounds (9.2 pounds with the big AC adapter), and it measures 1.8 inches high, 14.4 inches wide, and 10.8 inches deep--a reasonable heft for a mainstream laptop but much too heavy for daily trips to class or frequent business travel. Still, the laptop's generous width allows for a spacious, comfortable keyboard, with crisp key feedback. There's even room on the keyboard's left side for the DVD/CD-RW drive's control buttons; the drive plays CDs without booting up. The A75-S206 broadcasts tunes from two wrist-rest speakers that sound clear, if not rich. A broad, 15.4-inch display stretches out above the board, which should've made the A75-S206 especially well suited for DVD viewing. Unfortunately, the display's relatively low 1,280x800 native resolution offers less screen real estate than other systems.

For a mainstream laptop, the Toshiba's array of ports and slots falls right on the money. The laptop's left edge accommodates an infrared port and one Type II PC Card slot. The back edge is home to ports that include one for S-Video out, one VGA, one parallel, a 56Kbps modem, a 10/100 Ethernet, and two USB 2.0 ports; there's a third USB 2.0 port on the right edge, along with a headphone jack, a microphone port, and a couple of handy extras: a wireless on/off switch to conserve battery power and a volume-control wheel. Toshiba's Web site offers the Satellite A75 line in five preconfigured versions; in-store versions may vary. While many mainstream laptop manufacturers take this tack to save cash, the fact that you can't customize your A75 system irks us.

The Satellite A75's five configurations have five different model numbers (our evaluation system was the A75-S206), but they all use many of the same basic components. Each Satellite A75 runs a mobile Pentium 4 processor with Intel's much-hyped Hyper-Threading technology, an average 512MB of memory, and an aging ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics chip that borrows up to 64MB of video RAM from the main memory. Also onboard is a fast Atheros 802.11b/g wireless mini PCI card and a preloaded version of Microsoft's pared-down office suite, Microsoft Works.

The only variables among the five configurations are processor speed (2.8GHz, 3.06GHz, and 3.2GHz); hard drive size (60GB or 80GB); operating system (Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional); and optical-disc drive type (CD-RW/DVD-ROM or DVD Super-Multi Drive, which reads and writes all of the standard CD and DVD formats along with the more niche DVD-RAM format). The more expensive versions of the Satellite A75 also offer FireWire ports and useful five-in-one card readers that accommodate SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Digital, MultiMedia, and xD-Picture flash memory cards. Thanks to its Mobile Pentium 4 518-2.8GHz processor, the Toshiba Satellite A75-S206 shone in CNET Labs' mobile performance test. For one, this processor has a faster internal clock than that of the Pentium 4-2.66GHz processor found in both the Dell Inspiron 1150 and the HP Compaq Business Notebook nx9010. In addition, the Satellite A75-S206's Mobile Pentium 4 518 has a 1MB L2 cache compared to the comparison systems' 0.5MB cache. As a result, the Toshiba system led its closest rival, the Dell Inspiron 1150 by 13 percent, and it beat the HP nx9010 by a whopping 45 percent.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin. Find out more about how we test notebooks. The Toshiba Satellite A75-S206 runs on a 14.8V, 6,450mAh (95WHr) battery that can power it for more than three and a half hours, which is a pretty standard battery life. The Dell Inspiron 1150, however, is in a different league with a 14.8V, 6,450mAh (95WHr) battery that gives it more than six hours of battery life. The Satellite A75-S206's high-performance processor and higher screen resolution likely cost it some battery life.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

Battery life analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. 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).

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 1150
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME (up to 64MB); IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 4,200rpm

HP Compaq Business Notebook nx9010
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 345M 64MB (32 shared); Seagate ST94011A 40GB 7,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite A75-S206
Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel Mobile Pentium 4 518; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 IGP 32MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 60GB 4,200rpm Toshiba backs all versions of the Toshiba Satellite A75, including the Satellite A75-S206, with one year of free parts and labor, with return-to-depot service and toll-free, 24/7 phone support. The company sells a number of warranty upgrades, such as accidental damage protection and up to three years of service, via its Web site. Toshiba's support site offers more helpful features than most, including a laptop user forum and Ask Iris, an online persona that can help track down a problem. If you still haven't found what you're looking for after scanning the site, you can consult the system's helpful user manual, which provides tips on everything from learning computer basics to troubleshooting problems.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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