How much do you expect out of a $500 laptop? The Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 is a classic example of what roughly $549 can buy nowadays when it comes to a mainstream machine: this Toshiba laptop is thick and large-screened (15.6 inches), but lacks any features we'd call stand-out.
The Satellite L755-S5166 is one of a great many budget-range laptops Toshiba seems to churn out with ease, only in this case it's outfitted with a Sandy Bridge second-gen Intel Core i3 processor, a 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. You could do a lot worse for your $550, but then again, this isn't much different from the average laptop $499 you could buy last year. In fact, we've seen better for less: last year's $550 Lenovo Essential G570 offered a faster Core i5 processor. This Satellite isn't a rip-off, but it's not the hands-down great value it wants you to think it is.
No matter what, consider waiting a month or so before buying a laptop like this. Imminent design and processor upgrades are coming for many computers that should provide more value for your money, lessening the bang for the buck that's the Satellite L755-S5166's only calling card. And, as I already said, that bang isn't even that big. Bottom line: you can do better.
|Price as reviewed||$599|
|Processor||2.3 GHz Intel Core i3-2350M|
|Memory||4GB, 1333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||640GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||15.0 x 9.8 inches|
|Height||1.1 - 1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.2/6.0 pounds|
The Satellite L of this year looks like the Satellite L of last year: glossy plastic, a thick body, and a brushed blue aluminum lid and palmrest. It's not horribly unattractive, but it's definitely not an exciting laptop by anyone's definition.
A big, wide keyboard and adjacent number pad offer lots of roomy typing space, but the keys are of the flat-topped, closely packed variety instead of the more common raised island-style keys. The keyboard works well, but feels cheaper than higher-end products, and that keyboard style is quickly dying out, even on lower-end products.
The touch pad beneath is a joke: it's way too narrow and tiny, and it's only exaggerated more by a pair of giant curved plastic left and right buttons below. A responsive touch pad surface doesn't justify the lack of space for multifinger gestures, and this pad is simply too small for even basic gestures on a midsize laptop.
The 15.6-inch display is standard-issue: glossy-coated, 1,366x768-pixel resolution, and suitable quality. Toshiba's displays tend to be better than average for budget laptops, and colors show pop, but viewing angles are, as one would expect on a generic budget machine, lousy. Spend closer to $1,000, and you'll find 15-inch laptops with 1,600x900-pixel or better resolutions, but at these prices, 1,366x768-pixel is fine.
Stereo speakers above the keyboard offer clear sound that lacks extra power or definition: they're better than average bargain laptop speakers, but not the higher-end ones in other Satellites.
|Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166||Average for category [midsize]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The port and connection offerings on this particular Satellite are lost somewhere in the year 2009. No USB 3.0, no Bluetooth, and...well, that's pretty disappointing. Nearly any Windows laptop, even a $600 one, has USB 3.0 nowadays. For a 15-incher, this is bare-bones. To add insult to injury, a blocked-up outdated modem port graces one side of the generic plastic undercarriage.
On the other hand, this Satellite does have some fair specs: 4GB of RAM, and a larger-than-average 640GB hard drive. Some people would rather have 140GB less storage in exchange for Bluetooth and USB 3.0. I know I would.
We've seen the 2.3 GHz Intel Core i3-2350M processor in this Satellite before: it's a serviceable entry-level second-generation Intel Core i-series processor, and it's actually pretty zippy in everyday use. Keep your hard-core video editing and multitasking to a minimum, and you'll have no problems at all. Interestingly enough, in our chart comparisons it tested closely to the performance of a low-voltage ultrabook Core i7 processor.
Be forewarned, however: this Satellite is part of a generation of laptops that's likely to be outdated sooner than later. New and more efficient Intel Ivy Bridge processors are on the horizon imminently, and that could mean a laptop in your future that offers better performance for the same amount of money. In particular, that refers to the Intel HD 3000 graphics in this laptop: the next generation of Intel HD 4000 graphics should offer a big leap in gaming capability and media-processing speeds.
|Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.29|
|Sleep (10 percent)||0.77|
|Idle (25 percent)||6.29|
|Load (5 percent)||36.68|
|Annual energy cost||$3.64|
This Satellite's removable battery offered up an unimpressive battery life: 4 hours and 10 minutes of video playback on our tests. That's not surprising for a budget machine, but you can certainly find many laptops that do better. You might even consider a lower-priced ultrabook, which may not perform all that much differently but would certainly be a heck of a lot lighter.
Toshiba includes a standard one-year warranty with the Satellite L755-S5166. Toshiba's Web site and costumer service phone numbers are easy to navigate and use, and driver downloads are easy to find.
It's hard for anyone to get excited about the Satellite L755-S5166. Like its name suggests, this is an assembly-line iteration, a product with no inherent identity. It's a laptop. It works. Is it anything more exciting than that? No, it isn't.
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