The no-frills Satellite L25 offers the bare minimum at a budget-friendly price--but other laptops offer more for your buck.
The $799 Toshiba Satellite L25 is a no-frills, no-thrills thin-and-light laptop that's adequate for basic tasks, including e-mail, word processing, and Web browsing. We weren't particularly impressed with its performance or battery, and we prefer the identically priced Acer TravelMate 2355LCi, which both outran and outlasted the Satellite L25 in our tests. If you can look past Acer's limited tech-support hours, the TravelMate 2355LCi is the better buy.
Weighing 5.7 pounds, the black-and-silver Toshiba Satellite L25 is a little heavier than the average thin-and-light laptop, and its measurements--13 inches wide, 10.6 inches deep, and 1.4 inch thick--are more in line with those of midsize-class machines, such as the Acer TravelMate 2355LCi and the HP Compaq nx6110. A 0.7-pound AC adapter brings the Toshiba Satellite L25's total weight to a manageable 6.4 pounds.
The Satellite L25's bright, 15-inch standard-aspect display, with a 1,024x768 native resolution, is a pleasure to view, though its glossy finish can result in annoying reflections, depending on the screen's angle and the ambient lighting. That said, the glossy finish delivers a more vibrant image than that of traditional displays, and DVD movies displayed particularly well from wide viewing angles.
The laptop's twin stereo speakers delivered adequate audio, though we had to turn the volume all the way up to hear it. As with many inexpensive laptops, headphones are your best bet for full sound fidelity. The Toshiba Satellite L25 lacks an external volume control; instead you must rely on the software controls in Windows as well as the particular multimedia applications you use to listen to CDs, MP3s, and DVDs.
The Satellite L25's keys are quiet and responsive, and they're comfortable to type on. The touch pad feels a bit cramped, however, and we wish it had a dedicated scroll zone. But we like Toshiba's nifty customizable Zooming Utility, which lets you open frequently used folders or launch programs by tapping the corners of the touch pad.
Housed in the Toshiba Satellite L25's nondescript case are all the ports and connections a basic user will need. There are three USB 2.0 ports, with two on the left side and one in the rear, as well as VGA and S-Video ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and a single Type II PC Card slot. For networking, there are modem and Ethernet ports and an integrated 802.11b/g adapter with a dedicated on/off switch. While that's all similar to the ports and the connections on the $799 Acer TravelMate 2355LCi and the $999 Toshiba Tecra A5, feature-hungry users should note that the $699 Compaq Presario V2000Z includes all of those plus a four-pin FireWire port and a flash card reader. Our Toshiba Satellite L25 unit had a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive.
Designed more for individual users than corporate ones, the Toshiba Satellite L25 ships with Windows XP Home. Its software bundle includes the pared-down Microsoft Works 8 office suite, a full version of OneNote 2003 for taking and organizing notes, and the usual suspects of multimedia software, including InterVideo WinDVD 5 and some standard CD-burning apps.
The $799 Satellite L25 is available in one lower-end fixed configuration that includes a 1.5GHz Intel Celeron M processor; a paltry 256MB of slow, 333MHz RAM; a decent-size 60GB, 5,400rpm hard drive; and an integrated ATI Radeon Xpress GPU. As a result, the laptop earned mediocre scores on CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, running 8 percent behind the similarly configured, $999 Toshiba Tecra A5 and a whopping 23 percent behind the $799 Acer TravelMate 2355LCi. Still, the Satellite L25's performance should prove sufficient for basic business apps, e-mail, Web browsing, and CD or DVD playback.
The Toshiba Satellite L25's great weakness, however, is its below-average battery life; it lasted just 95 minutes on a charge--not even enough to watch most DVD movies. By comparison, the Tecra A5 lasted 2 hours, 43 minutes, while the TravelMate 2355LCi lasted just over 2 hours. When we tried to burn data to a CD on our Satellite L25, a window popped up to remind us to plug in the AC adapter. And after just 2 minutes of burning, the battery meter went from 90 percent to 68 percent remaining. Clearly, the system shouldn't be away from an outlet for long.
Toshiba provides an industry-standard one-year warranty with the Satellite L25. During that time, you must mail or carry in the laptop to an authorized service center for repairs. For $100 you can extended the carry-in warranty to two years; three years of coverage with screen damage protection costs $220. You can also buy enhanced coverage, such as accidental damage protection and onsite service. Toll-free tech support is available around the clock for the length of your warranty. The Toshiba support Web site lacks one of our favorite features--real-time chat with a tech-support rep--but it does link out to a helpful forum. Specific downloads and manuals for this model are also available online.
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
Acer TravelMate 2355LCi
Windows XP Pro; 1.4GHz Celeron M-360; 512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 82852/82855 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 60GB 4,200rpm
Toshiba Satellite L25
Windows XP Home; 1.5GHz Celeron M 370; 256MB DDR-SDRAM PC4300 333MHz; ATI Radeon Xpress 200M 128MB; Fujitsu MHV2060AH 60GB 5,400rpm
Toshiba Tecra A5
Windows XP Pro; 1.5GHz Celeron M 370; 256MB DDR-SDRAM PC2700 166MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 40GB 4,200rpm (NTFS)