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Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815 review: Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
5 min read
Note: This review is part of our Back-to-School 2008 roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.

By virtue of its broad, 17.1-inch display, the $699 Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815 stands out among budget back-to-school laptops (most of which feature 15.4-inch displays). But that feature is the only way the Satellite L355D-S7815 distinguishes itself; the rest of its feature set is merely adequate, its battery life below average, and (thanks to the inclusion of an AMD processor) its performance was consistently at the bottom of our benchmarks. These would all be somewhat excused if the price were rock-bottom, but we tested both a Dell Inspiron 1525 and a Sony Vaio NR430 that outperformed the Toshiba for less money. In fact, the Vaio NR430 is our entry-level pick for students on a tight budget, and we recommend it over the Satellite L355D-S7815.


Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

The Good

Low price; attractive display; broad, comfortable keyboard.

The Bad

Poor performance compared with lower-cost systems; lousy speakers; brief battery life.

The Bottom Line

Unless you need a 17.1-inch display, there are better entry-level laptops than the Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815.

Price $699
Processor 2.0GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-60
Memory 3GB of 667MHz
Hard drive 160GB at 5,400rpm
Chipset AMD M780V
Graphics ATI Radeon 3100 (integrated)
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Dimensions (wide x deep x thick) 15.7 x 11.5 x 1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 7.1 / 8.0 pounds
Category mainstream

Bypassing Toshiba's newest pin-striped Satellite case design, the Satellite L355D-S7815's lid is a glossy blue-black (Toshiba calls it "onyx blue") and its interior is glossy black. The overall effect is subdued, but elegant, and the laptop looks far more expensive than its $699 price. Both the lid and the base feature rounded corners that help the laptop appear smaller than it is. Though its 7.1-pound weight places it well in the mainstream category, the Satellite L355D-S7815's broad 17.1-inch display gives it a larger footprint than other laptops in this category. You'll probably only carry it when you head home during breaks.

In exchange for taking up more space on your desk, the Satellite L355D-S7815 offers a broad, 17.1-inch wide-screen display. With a native resolution of 1,440x900, the screen is great for Web browsing and movies; however, its glossy coating results in some distracting reflections when working in brightly lit environments.

We like the keyboard on the Satellite L355D-S7815; it's roomy and provides a comfortable typing experience. The laptop's broad case also provides space for a 10-key number pad, which can be useful for entering data. The touch pad is flush with the wrist rest, but not so sensitive that you'll accidentally misplace the cursor while typing. Otherwise, the Satellite L355D-S7815's keyboard deck is an exercise in minimalism: there are no fingerprint reader or application-launch buttons, just a row of buttons across the top that control media playback and mute the sound. (Volume is adjusted with a handy wheel on the laptop's front edge.)

  Toshiba Satellite L355-S7815 Average for mainstream category
Video VGA-out VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Three USB 2.0, multiformat memory card reader Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard PC Card
Networking modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner with Labelflash DVD burner

The Satellite L355D-S7815 offers a rather basic feature set that's acceptable for a budget system. Toshiba does omit the mini-FireWire and S-Video connectors we'd expect to see on a laptop of this size, but neither omission is glaring. However, we were disappointed in the laptop's stereo speakers, which emit only muddled sound; headphones are pretty much required for enjoying music or movies on this system.

A fixed configuration available only on retail shelves, the $699 Satellite L355D-S7815 incorporates a generous 3GB of RAM and a low-cost 2.0GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-60 dual-core processor. Though that's one of AMD's latest processor models, it didn't have enough oomph to compete with laptops based on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor on CNET Labs' benchmarks. The Satellite L355D-S7815 came in dead last on every performance test we ran. We could forgive the lag if the Satellite were less expensive than the competition, but you'll pay less for Dell's entry-level Inspiron 1525-121B and the Sony Vaio NR430, which is our favorite in this budget category.

The Satellite L355D-S7815's pokey performance didn't even help preserve battery life; the laptop ran for just 1 hour and 44 minutes on our video playback drain test. That's a bit less than average for a midsize system, even for one with a 17-inch screen. Our video playback test is particularly taxing, so you can expect a bit more battery life during typical productivity work; just be sure to bring the power cord if you want to make it through a Hollywood movie.

Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the Satellite L355D. It's a mail-in warranty, but the company has a deal where you can just drop your system off for service at any UPS Store, and they'll pack it up and deliver it to the repair depot. Support is accessible through a 24-7, toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite L305-S5875
Compaq CQ50-115NR
Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite L305-S5875
Compaq CQ50-115NR
Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite L305-S5875
Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815
Compaq CQ50-115NR

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite L305-S5875
Compaq CQ50-115NR
Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Compaq CQ50-115NR
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz AMD Turion X2 Mobile RM-70; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8200M G; 200GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite L305-S5875
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T2390; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 200GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron 1525-121B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T2390; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 160GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VGN-NR430 E/L
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T2390; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 160GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.90GHz AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-60; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon 3100; 160GB Toshiba 5400rpm


Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 3Battery 4Support 6