It must be noted from the outset that this is the 00E model of the Satellite L630, and despite the seemingly innocuous nomenclature it means a world of difference. The other L630s are mostly black, multimedia-focused laptops. While the L630 looks business-like, the 00E looks like the love-child of Alien and Crayola.
It feels reasonably rugged with its faux kickplate finish, while the lime green edge protectors, mouse and power buttons certainly make it unique. It's the keyboard though that steals the, er, limelight.
Apart from every letter being coloured in the same green, Toshiba's included what it calls a "wipeable keyboard" — a rubber membrane sitting over the real keyboard. It's a little loose, is non-removable (unless you never want to use the membrane again), and despite many attempts at acclimatising it is one of the more unpleasant keyboards we've used, if only because the sensation of typing feels like running your fingers repeatedly over a popped blister.
The slack response caused by the rubber causes typing accuracy to go down, and there are no keyboard lights; the only way you'll know Caps Lock is on is to type and find out. There are other status lights, but they're useless, as they've been placed on the lip of the laptop, completely out of sight when using the machine.
For its part, Toshiba pitches the 00E as a family-friendly laptop — one that'll survive the kids — and it may well do. We wouldn't take it in the shower, but thanks to the keyboard it should survive modest spills and the exterior should protect it from a few knocks and minor drops.
The mechanical hard drive inside is the weak point though in the rugged formula. Toshiba includes software that detects even the slightest movement and parks the drive heads, but the drive is still susceptible to drops. While a solid-state drive would remove the drop risk altogether, it would also drive the price way above the AU$799 the 00E costs, and hence way out of its family-friendly target.
For its size the 00E comes with a standard complement of ports, equipped with three USB ports (with one integrated with eSATA), headphone and microphone jacks, VGA out, 100Mb Ethernet and, interestingly, a DVD+-RW on the left-hand side. Wireless is covered by 2.4GHz 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1.
The 13.3-inch, 1366x768 screen is bright and ensures the machine isn't too large for kids to haul around (although the 2.1kg weight could be a challenge for smaller kids), while the Pentium P6100 @ 2GHz, 2GB RAM and 250GB hard drive are more than enough for an entry-level machine.
With a Pentium inside and Intel graphics, we didn't expect this one to go far. True enough to its entry-level creed, it scored 1477 in 3DMark06 and 4186 in PCMark05. This laptop isn't really suitable for 3D games, but should be able to handle web browsing and office productivity apps just fine.
Battery life is reasonable too, but then it should be considering the lower-end specs involved — with all power-saving features off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum, and an XviD file played back full screen, it lasted two hours and 33 minutes before going into hibernation.
Toshiba's L630/00E is very much an entry-level laptop, with the spin of being kid-friendly. While the wipe-clean keyboard is horrible to use for adults, it may save some sanity if you decide to go down the path of buying a computer for your kids.