Toshiba's Satellite C660 solidly demonstrates that you get what you pay for. It's not a bad notebook, but it's not a particularly remarkable one either.
Entry-level notebooks are rarely lookers and Toshiba's C660 doesn't even particularly make the pretence of being flashy in any real way. Where bland corporate notebooks used to look distinctly grey, they now tend to adopt dull black tones, which is exactly the style of the C660. It does offer up a full keyboard including number pad, which means that there's very little wasted space at the sides of the keyboard.
The C660 ships in a number of different configurations and at a couple of different price points as a result. The AU$699 model we tested was technically the C660/00J PSC1LA-00J001, to give it its full, formal title. This particular C660 comes with the kinds of parts you'd pretty much expect in a modern but entry-level notebook. Processing is handled by an Intel Core i3 2310M 2.1GHz processor, and Intel's own HD graphics handle the pixel pushing chores. Memory is rather limited at 2GB natively on-board and the hard drive offers 500GB of storage capacity. The display is a 15.6-inch, 1366x768-pixel 16:9 LCD. Optical duties are handled by an on-board DVD SuperMulti dual-layer burner. There's no HDMI out, limited only to VGA, and two USB 2.0 ports with sleep charge ability if that tickles your fancy.
On the software side, Windows 7 Home Premium is pre-installed. When you first boot up the C660, it will ask you if you want 32-bit or 64-bit Windows installed. The default is 32-bit and if you opt for 64-bit, you'll have to wait a couple of hours while it reformats the partition and reinstalls everything. Everything in this case includes ConfigFree, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter (60-day trial), Norton Internet Security 2011 (Trial Version), Norton Online Backup Utility, Toshiba Face Recognition, Toshiba Media Controller and Toshiba Recovery Media Creator.
The base line specifications of the C660 don't inspire a lot of world-beating confidence, but then this is a second-generation "Sandy Bridge" CPU, so there's some hope for the C660. Its PCMark05 score of 5743 marks it out as a solid performer, albeit not as spectacular as we've seen from some of the Sandy Bridge-enabled PCs. Intel's HD graphics solutions tend to score in the 3000 range in 3DMark06, and the C660 was no exception, managing 3321. It'll play a decent game of World Of Warcraft as a result, but perhaps not knock the socks off Call Of Duty: Black Ops.
Toshiba rates the battery in the C660 as being capable of "up to five hours" of runtime. In a market where many vendors claim "all-day" batteries, it's interesting to see a notebook undersell itself so powerfully. In our battery tests, where all power-saving measures were disabled, screen brightness was pumped up to full and a looping full-screen video was played to battery exhaustion point, the C660 acquitted itself quite well with a runtime of three hours and 48 minutes. The point of our test is to give a lowest expectation score, so we'd say that the five-hour figure should be totally achievable. It's not quite a full-day battery kind of machine, but it's quite solid.
The C660 offers what its price suggests. It's not a world beater in processing terms and the battery won't quite last a whole day. But if you need a solid and not all that visually exciting machine, it's got you covered.