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Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452 review: Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
4 min read

Toshiba's mainstream Satellite laptops have impressed us lately with their smart design and a varied mix of specs and prices. The 14-inch $849 Satellite M205 hits a decent middle ground; it offers an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (the budget 15-inch Satellite A215 uses an AMD processor and starts at less than $700) but strips away many of the extras we've come to expect from Toshiba, including 802.11n Wi-Fi, Harman Kardon speakers, and a LabelFlash optical drive that can burn text and images on your optical media. An identically configured Dell Inspiron 1420 is a few bucks more at $924, but Dell's customization options may steer you toward the Inspiron instead of the fixed-configuration Satellite M205-S7452, or slightly more expensive entries (the Sony VAIO CR120 and Lenovo 3000 N200) that offer faster processors.


Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

The Good

Typically attractive Toshiba design in a handy 14-inch format; decent specs, including 160GB hard drive.

The Bad

Doesn't include features found in other, only slightly higher-end Satellite laptops, including 802.11n Wi-Fi, Harman Kardon speakers, and LabelFlash optical drive; only 1GB of RAM; not customizable.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba Satellite M205 strips out most of the typical Satellite series extras, but comes at a reasonable price and boasts an attractive design as well as a useful, versatile 14-inch chassis.

Price as reviewed $849
Processor 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250
Memory 1GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 160GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel 965GM
Graphics Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Operating system Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 13.0x9.5x1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.1 / 6.0 pounds
Category Mainstream

From the outside, the Satellite M205 is nearly identical to the other laptops in Toshiba's current lineup, such as the Satellite U305, with the same rounded edges, black accents, and silver interior. The dark-blue-speckled lid has a high-gloss coating--making it especially vulnerable to fingerprints and smudges, but it's attractive otherwise. One of our common complaints about the company's laptops remains the giant "Toshiba" emblazoned in large silver letters across the laptop's lid and the backlit Satellite logo on the front edge. It all adds up to branding overkill, making us feel like a walking billboard.

Blue LED lights on the front edge give you updates about battery status and hard drive activity without causing distraction, and a row of media control buttons (play/pause, and so forth) sits above the keyboard, between the stereo speakers. These are not the Harman Kardon speakers found on more expensive Toshiba laptops such as the X205, but the sound quality is acceptable for casual listening, although still too thin and brittle for enjoying music. The keyboard has a little of that click-clack quality some find annoying, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.

The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size, and the same as Toshiba's 15-inch A205. It provides for highly readable text and icons, and the screen is bright and stands out against the black screen bezel. A Web cam is built into the top screen bezel--making it one extra that wasn't cut for budgetary reasons.

  Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452 Average for mainstream category
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion PC Card slot PC Card or Express Card slot
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

While almost no one has an 802.11n Wi-Fi router yet, we're getting used to seeing it included as part of the standard equipment on all but the cheapest laptops. At nearly $900, we expected to find it here (as on the Fujitsu LifeBook A6110). Bluetooth is also not an option, which is disappointing, and many of Toshiba's only slightly more expensive laptops include a Labelflash DVD drive, which can burn grayscale text and images onto specially coated media.

The M205's Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor features a relatively slow 1.5GHz clockspeed, but it operates on Intel's latest Santa Rosa platform and is more than adequate for basic Web surfing, media playback, and productivity tasks, although attempting to multitask all three at once led to some sputtering. Adding a second gigabyte of RAM, as in the otherwise similar Fujitsu LifeBook A6110, meant faster performance in some applications, particularly Photoshop, but you're stuck with 1GB in the fixed-config M205.

The Satellite M205 ran for 1 hour and 55 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's a bit short of acceptable for a laptop of this size, and Sony's similar NR160 ran for 2.5 hours on the same test. Still, our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the Satellite M205. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $134, or $224 with on-site service. 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 M205-S7452

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Intel Mobile 965GM Express; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook A6110
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Intel Mobile 965GM Express; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio NR160
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Intel Mobile Express 965GM; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Gateway T-6815
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm


Toshiba Satellite M205-S7452

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Battery 5Support 6