Toshiba Satellite P205 review: Toshiba Satellite P205

The Good Attractive design; movie-friendly display; comfortable keyboard and well-designed touch pad; lightweight for a desktop replacement.

The Bad Economy processor results in mediocre performance and below-average battery life; large company logo on lid is off-putting; lacks Bluetooth option.

The Bottom Line The 17-inch Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237 laptop looks good but is hobbled by its budget processor. You can get more for your money elsewhere.

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5.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 3
  • Support 5

On the surface, the Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237 is a winner. Its sleek, reflective black exterior and upscale silver interior look more expensive than its $999 price tag might indicate. It has a beautiful 17-inch display and a remarkably comfortable keyboard. But the cliche about books and their covers applies to laptops and their cases as well. In the case of the fixed-configuration Satellite P205-S6237, a lovely exterior houses a super-economy Pentium processor which, though it has multiple processing cores, couldn't keep up with Core Duo systems on our performance tests. We'd be willing to excuse the weak performance if the price was low enough, but for $999, you can configure competitors' laptops, such as the Dell Inspiron E1705, with similar components and a more recent Core Duo processor. If you're hooked on Toshiba's new design, we recommend spending $200 more for the Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287, which has the same case but incorporates a few higher-end features, including Core Duo.

Price as reviewed/starting price $999 / $999
Processor 1.73GHz Intel Pentium dual-core T2080
Chipset Intel 945GM.
Memory 1GB of 533MHz
Hard drive 120GB at 5,400rpm
Graphics Mobile Intel Express 945GM (integrated)
Operating system Vista Home Premium
Dimensions (LWH) 15.7x11.1x1.8 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 7.2 / 8.2 pounds
Category desktop replacement

When we pulled the Satellite P205-S6237 from its box, we were astonished by its dramatically different design. Dramatically different, that is, from previous Satellites, but remarkably similar to current HP Pavilions: rounded edges, reflective blue-black exterior, and silver interior. We like the look of Pavilions, and we likewise found the Satellite to be quite attractive, but for the giant Toshiba logo emblazoned in one-inch silver letters across the laptop's lid. Also off-putting was the Satellite logo on the left side of the laptop's front edge which, while small, glows bright blue. Between that and the lid, we felt as if we were sitting behind a Toshiba billboard every time we booted up.

The Satellite P205-S6237 weighs a scant 7.2 pounds--barely enough to qualify as a desktop replacement. Compared to the 8.1-pound Dell Inspiron E1705 and the 7.8-pound HP Pavilion dv9000t, the Satellite P205-S6237 is a featherweight, even with its one-pound AC adapter. But you'll need just a little extra room in your bag to carry it, as it's 0.2 inch thicker than both the Dell and the HP. Despite its light weight, the Satellite P205-S6237 feels sturdily constructed.

Movies and the Vista Aero interface look great on the Satellite P205-S6237's glossy display, which features a crisp 1,440x900 native resolution. The picture is sharp, colors pop, and there's plenty of room to work in multiple windows at once. A Webcam and a microphone are incorporated into the display bezel.

The Satellite P205-S6237 includes a full-size keyboard (with a shortened space bar, but we felt no difference while typing) and a 10-key numeric keypad. Heavy users of keyboard shortcuts will appreciate this redesigned board, which includes both a right-side Control key and Windows key in their proper positions (previous Toshiba keyboards had omitted the former and moved the latter to the upper-right side). A slightly rough finish on the broad, silver keys struck us as odd but didn't seem to affect our typing at all. By contrast, fingers glide smoothly across the wide touch pad, which includes both vertical and horizontal scroll zones. In the absence of a touch pad on/off button, we appreciate that the touch surface is recessed, which prevents you from accidentally grazing the touch pad and misplacing the cursor while typing. Above the keyboard sit basic media controls (Play/Pause, Stop, Track Forward, and Track Back) as well as buttons to launch the media player and your default Web browser. On either side of these buttons sit the laptop's stereo speakers, which emit balanced sound but don't get as loud as we'd expect from a desktop replacement. About the only thing missing is a fingerprint reader, which would make it easier to quickly log on to networks and Web sites without typing a password.

  Toshiba Satellite P205 Average for desktop replacement category
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video, DVI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Four USB 2.0 ports, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader Four USB 2.0 ports, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion PC Card and ExpressCard PC Card and ExpressCard
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The Satellite P205-S6237 has a typical array of ports and connections for a desktop replacement, though it lacks DVI output and Bluetooth--even as an option. Unfortunately, the USB ports are stacked on top of each other (two on each side) which can lead to cord crowding. Also worth noting is the Satellite's DVD burner equipped with Labelflash (similar to HP's LightScribe), which lets you laser-etch your own labels onto compatible discs.

We're a bit baffled by Toshiba's decision to stock the Satellite P205-S6237 with the Intel Pentium dual-core processor--it's a little like popping the hood on your Porsche and discovering the engine is from a Yugo. (For more on this "off-roadmap" CPU, read our Crave post on the matter.) We assume the economy-class processor is a way to keep costs down, but we also noticed that a $995 Dell Inspiron E1705 includes many of the same features as the Satellite P205 plus a more recent Core Duo processor. Unsurprisingly, the Satellite P205-S6237 posted mediocre scores on CNET Labs' application benchmarks, largely trailing the $999 Systemax Pursuit 4155, which includes a 1.73GHz Core Duo T2250 CPU. On our Photoshop and iTunes tests, the Satellite P205-S6237s results did come close to matching those of its predecessor, the Toshiba Satellite P105-S6024, which ran Windows XP Media Center Edition on a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo T2050 processor. But the Satellite P205-S6237 didn't stand a chance against more expensive Core 2 Duo-based systems, including a $1,900 Dell Inspiron E1705. While the Satellite P205-S6237's performance should prove adequate for the most basic home use, we have a hard time recommending a laptop with a Pentium processor when you can get one with a Core processor for the same price.

The picture doesn't improve when you look at battery life. The Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237's six-cell battery lasted just 90 minutes on our taxing DVD drain test. Though we're admittedly not likely to roam far with a laptop this big, we'd prefer to have enough battery life to make it through at least one movie. The Dell Inspiron E1705, by contrast, included a nine-cell battery that lasted 2 hours, 28 minutes; the Systemax Pursuit 4155 held out for 2 hours, 18 minutes.

Toshiba backs the Satellite P205-S6237 with an industry-standard one-year warranty; extending the warranty to three years costs $134, with express and onsite upgrades available for an additional fee. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and both a carry- and mail-in repair service.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237

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