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Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826 review: Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826

Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826

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
5 min read

With a lineup of perfectly serviceable, but not exactly standout, mainstream laptops, Toshiba's Satellite brand has long played second fiddle to the company's excellent Qosmio multimedia systems. Aiming to correct this, Toshiba has a whole new look and feel for its mainstream consumer products, with a shiny metallic sheen and a clever new Sleep-and-Charge feature, which lets you charge USB devices even if the laptop is powered off.


Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826

The Good

Stylish new design; charges USB devices, even when off.

The Bad

Glossy finish attracts fingerprints; way too much bloatware; Sleep-and-Charge feature is turned off by default.

The Bottom Line

Toshiba's new Satellites, including the 14-inch M305, offer a reasonable mix of performance and price, but are weighed down by excessive out-of-the-box advertising links.

The $1,049 fixed-configuration 14-inch Satellite M305 is nearly identical to the 13-inch Satellite U405 we looked at recently, adding Harman Kardon speakers, but losing Bluetooth connectivity. The U405 stood out by offering decent specifications and features in the sparsely populated 13-inch thin-and-light category, but the 14-inch market is much more crowded, and we liked the slightly thinner, and configurable, 14-inch HP dv2700t a bit better.

Price $1,049
Processor 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100
Memory 3GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 250GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM965
Graphics Mobile Intel 965GM Express (integrated)
Operating System Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 12.2x9.5x1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.2/6.1 pounds
Category Mainstream

The new Satellite look is certainly an improvement over previous versions, which have alternated between slate gray and bizarre red-and-black flamed designs. This new model is decked out what Toshiba calls a "Horizon" pattern in a "Fusion" finish, which basically means silver-gray and black pinstripes that combine for a distinct metallic sheen, also found on the new 15-inch Satellite A305D and the 14-inch Satellite U405.

The new finish is almost mirror-like, and even light handling will leave major fingerprints all over it. While we're used to having to watch out for fingerprints on a glossy laptop lid or wrist rest, this is the first time we can recall having to worry about fingerprints on the keyboard itself. The keys themselves are made of an exceptionally glossy plastic, and the effect is almost distracting.

We liked that the touch pad is totally flush with the wrist rest--the Alienware m15x had a similar touch pad, but Toshiba does it better. The M035's touch pad features a matte surface material, making it easier to discern the active area without having to take your eyes off the screen. The Alienware's touch pad was the same glossy material as the rest of the wrist rest, which caused us to frequently glance down at the touch pad to find it.

Perhaps the most interesting new development, featured in all the new Toshiba Satellite models, is something called Sleep-and-Charge, which means you can plug in and charge USB devices (iPods, mobile phones, and so on) even if the laptop is in sleep or hibernate mode, or is totally powered off, as long as it's plugged into an outlet. Most laptops provide power to USB ports only while they're turned on. Note that this feature is turned off by default for no particularly good reason, and you'll have to hunt around to figure out how to turn it on, as it's completely buried in a series of submenus. (Start > All Programs > Toshiba > Utilities > HWStup > USB).

The 14-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is standard for most 13- to 15-inch displays. Overly glossy screen coatings usually give us pause, but we didn't see excessive glare or reflections from other light sources on the M305's glossy screen. The sound from the stereo Harman Kardon speakers was reasonably clear, but lacked low end--good for streaming TV shows, for example, but not great for music.

  Toshiba Satellite M305- S4826 Average for category [thin-and-light]
Video VGA out VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard slot Type I/II PC Card or ExpressCard
Networking modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

Our review sample had an HDMI port on the side--or at least a spot intended for one. The port was covered over with a plastic plug (which still says HDMI above it), and it's not an option on the final shipping version, leaving you with just a standard VGA output. The 13-inch Satellite U405 we looked at had a similar faux HDMI port.

Another issue we've noted across the new Satellites is the excessive bloatware, trial software, and advertising links--more than we've seen in a long time. The desktop felt crowded, with icons pushing AutoBackup, Lojack for Laptops, QuickBooks, Skype, Napster, Vongo, multiple Microsoft Office come-ons, and more. We shouldn't have to spend an hour or so cleaning off our new laptop just to get the feel of a factory fresh installation. Fortunately for you, we have a handy video about ridding your PC of bloatware, so follow the instructions there and you can look forward to reclaiming a little hard-drive space, processing overhead, and consumer empowerment.

Intel's Penryn-class 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 CPU is the new default for mainstream performance, and the Satellite M305 was on par with other T8100 laptops, including the nearly identically configured 13-inch U405. Bumping up the CPU up a bit to the 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo T9300, as in the HP Pavilion dv2700t, makes a difference in benchmark scores, but for typical multitasking use--Web surfing, office documents, media viewing, and so on--all are fine performers, with no slowdown or stuttering.

The Satellite M305 ran for 1 hours and 39 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, which is not especially impressive for a 14-inch laptop designed for fairly frequent travel. You can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use, but the 13-inch U405 model ran for 40 minutes longer with the same CPU and RAM.

Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $149. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line and an online knowledge base and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Satellite U405-S2830
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 358MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.

HP Pavilion dv2700t
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS; 250GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm.

Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.

Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo - 2.2GHz / 13.3 inch
OS X 10.5.1 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz; 2,048GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 144MB Intel GMA X3100; 160GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm.


Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Battery 4Support 6