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Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945 review: Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945

Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
6 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Back-to-School roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.


Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945

The Good

Good speakers; decent all-around performance; included 3G antenna.

The Bad

Uncomfortable touch pad and keyboard; no Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line

Positioned as an affordable design-conscious Core 2 Duo laptop for less than $700, Toshiba's Satellite M505-S4945 is better for media than it is for all-day office work.

Sitting at the budget level of our roundup (a step above entry-level), the Satellite M505-S4945 is positioned as a midrange multimedia laptop designed for affordability and some degree of style. It's in a similar territory to the Lenovo IdeaPad Y450 and the Gateway TC7804u, both in specs and price. At $699, the M505-S4945's price isn't rock bottom, but it's a decent option for those who want a Core 2 Duo machine with good audio. However, if you're a heavy multimedia user, it's lacking Blu-ray, higher-end discrete graphics, and full HD resolution, all of which can be had for a few hundred more in other laptop models.

Equipped with a Core 2 Duo processor and integrated graphics, as well as better-than-average speakers and a good 16x9 display, the M505-S945 presents the best value for someone who wants to view a lot of media files (as long as it's not full HD). For heavy office workers and writers, however, this slightly ungainly machine might disappoint.

Covered with a pinstripe dark gray glossy finish and lined in silvery plastic, the Satellite M505-S4945 has an attractive look to it, although the surfaces (including the keyboard, which also has a glossy finish) are extremely fingerprint-prone. This is a boxy laptop, though: at 1.6 inches thick, it has a seriously chunky base compared with recent thin-and-light machines with optical drives.

While the keyboard of the M505 isn't backlit, dedicated media keys above the function keys are LED-lit and touch-sensitive, controlling volume, play/pause and track-skipping, a launcher to Toshiba's PowerCinema photo/video viewing software, and a hot key to an Eco utility panel for energy-saving presets. The touch keys work, but the volume buttons are finicky and make annoying beeps when used. The keyboard is flat, with soft-feeling keys. Typing was made slightly awkward by the slick surfaces of the keys, which tend to feel greasy after a while. A multitouch touch pad has an LED-strip at the top for (we assume) finding it in dim rooms, but the glossy feel to the pad, as well as its smaller-than-normal size compared with the buttons below it, made it feel inaccurate and hard to control.

The 1,366x768 14-inch screen is a standard resolution for a 16x9 LCD of this size. LED-backlit, its colors were sharp and bright during video playback, and viewing angles were decent. Of particular note are the built-in Harman/Kardon stereo speakers, which have great sound compared with most laptops in this range. They're similar to the speakers in the Lenovo IdeaPad Y450, and are a notable improvement from the lackluster speakers in the recently reviewed entry-level Satellite L305 and the L505 laptops.

The port selection covers many of the basic needs for mainstream laptop owners: a generous three USB ports, plus a sleep-and-charge USB/eSATA combo port, which can charge USB devices when the laptop is sleeping or even off. This is a nearly universal Toshiba laptop feature, but it's a notable benefit for those who own Satellites. HDMI, a full-size ExpressCard slot, and a memory card slot are all welcome features. The M505 even has a 3G WAN antenna in addition to b/g/n Wi-Fi, and included wizards for configuring a broadband wireless account.

What's not great, though, is the hard-drive size. At 160GB, it feels ridiculously small. While 3GB of DDR2 RAM is a fair amount, the total package still feels inferior to what the Lenovo IdeaPad Y450 provides. Although the Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945 costs $100 less and has a slightly faster T6500 processor, the IdeaPad's keyboard, touch pad, and overall feel were superior--plus it had a larger base hard drive. Then again, the M505 does offer a fairly complete total package that should be just fine for someone who wants a media-savvy, somewhat stylish all-in-one option.

One other note: an included vibration-sensitive hard-drive protection feature was hyperactive in our model, often activating in the middle of typing. It's nice to be safe, but our M505 felt cautious to a fault in its base configuration (this can be adjusted).

The T6500 Core 2 Duo processor and Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics are a package that's similar to what the IdeaPad Y450 and Gateway TC7804u featured, although those had slightly slower T6400 processors. The T6500 processor is a decent dual-core that will perform most office and casual media tasks well. In our multimedia multitasking tests, all three machines performed similarly, with some minor variations. For most office and casual use, and even some basic game playing without graphics card requirements, the M505 will perform just fine.

Juice box
Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.57
Sleep (10 percent) 1.09
Idle (25 percent) 17.03
Load (5 percent) 38.65
Raw kWh 58.18
Annual energy cost $6.60

The M505-S4945's six-cell battery lasted 2 hours and 46 minutes in our battery-drain test. That's close to what we'd expect for a standard 14-inch laptop. Also, remember that our video-playback battery drain test is grueling--you can expect longer battery life under normal office work and casual Web use conditions.

The Toshiba Satellite L505-S4945 is backed by an industry-standard, one-year warranty. Support is accessible 24-7 via a toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and a Web site with driver downloads. While retail shops are happy to sell you an in-store extended warranty, they are often expensive and hard to use, so we don't recommend them.

Note: While this machine comes with Windows Vista, many retailers, including Best Buy, and some hardware manufacturers are offering a free upgrade to Windows 7 for systems purchased after the end of June.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Tecra M505-S4945
HP G60-445dx

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations: Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 160GB Toshiba 5400rpm

HP G60-445dx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-75; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8200M G; 320GB Seagate 5400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Toshiba Satellite P505D-S8930
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.19GHz AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-74; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200; 320GB Toshiba 5400rpm


Toshiba Satellite M505-S4945

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Battery 7Support 7