Entry-level desktop-replacement laptops are almost as popular as in many online stores' bestseller lists. The appeal of models like those in Toshiba's Satellite L350 series lies in their size. Big screens and keyboards make them no less usable than a desktop PC, but they can still be carried around and hidden away when not in use.
Here we review the mid-range Toshiba Satellite L350-17P, which is available for around £430. The low-end L350-21Q is available for around £400, and the high-end L350-21T costs about £480.
Like any 17-inch laptop, the L350-17P is something of a bruiser, but its boring design makes it look even more monolithic than some similarly sized competitors. The only adornments on the dark grey case are the light grey, painted Toshiba logos on the lid and below the screen. We should, perhaps, be thankful for the lack of tacky silver plastic and blue LEDs that some manufacturers like to use.
The case feels sturdy and, at 3.15kg, rather heavy -- and that's not counting the external power adaptor. There's plenty of flex in the lid, and the hinges, although stiff, do allow for a fair amount of wobbling. These, however, aren't really problems for a laptop that won't be used on the move. Four large rubber feet keep the L350-17P planted on a desktop, but a large air intake on the underside needs to be kept clear if the laptop is used on anything other than an even surface.
A big case means there's room for a large keyboard. The L350-17P's is full-size, with a separate numeric keypad. The keyboard is set well back in the case, with a wide wrist rest, but, while comfortable to type on, it does feel rather cheap and insubstantial. One pleasing touch is that there's some breathing room between the main keyboard and both the numeric keypad and function keys. Many other laptops -- even ones this size -- simply cram them all together.
Keyboard aside, the other obvious attraction with a 17-inch laptop is the large screen. The L350-17P's display is clear and bright, but the 1,440x900-pixel resolution is on the low side for such a big screen. The glossy finish helps create good contrast, but it means that you can see your own face when watching darker scenes in movies. That problem isn't unique to this laptop, though.