The 17-inch Satellite P305 is part of Toshiba's recent rebranding of its mainstream Satellite laptop line. The new look and feel adds 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.
The $1,009 fixed-configuration Satellite P305 is inexpensive for a desktop replacement laptop and features Harman Kardon speakers and an HDMI output, but is missing some basics, such as Bluetooth connectivity. For about $300 more, you can trade up to an Acer Aspire 8920, which adds a Blu-ray drive, or the Gateway P6860FX, which has a high-end Nvidia GeForce 8800 video card. But if those special features don't matter, the Satellite P305 is a decent way to get maximum size for minimum bucks.
|Processor||1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550|
|Memory||3GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||15.7x11.3x1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.6/8.6 pounds|
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 mirrorlike, and even light handling will leave major fingerprints all over it. While we're used to watching out for fingerprints on a glossy laptop lid or wrist rest, its another thing to worry about fingerprints on the keyboard. The keys are made of an exceptionally glossy plastic, and have a good deal of finger drag, if that kind of thing bothers you.
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 P035's touch pad features a matte surface, 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 development, featured in all the new Toshiba Satellite models, is something called Sleep-and-Charge. The feature lets you 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 a power 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 buried in a series of submenus. (Start > All Programs > Toshiba > Utilities > HWStup > USB).
The 17-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,440x900 native resolution, which is standard for less expensive 17-inch laptops, including Gateway's P-6860FX. Higher-end desktop replacements typically have 1,920x1,200 resolutions. That makes the P305 less than ideal for HD video watching, but it's fine for playing DVDs and Web video.
|Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA-out, S-video, HDMI||VGA-out, S-video, DVI or HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks, shared S/PDIF output port||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard slot||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|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner [high-end: HD DVD or Blu-Ray]|
While we like the four USB ports and the HDMI output, we're also getting to a point where not having Bluetooth is a serious omission. Our favorite laptop mice, for example, are now all Bluetooth, which saves us the trouble of dealing with USB dongles.
Another issue we've noted across the new Satellite line 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 lower-end 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 CPU (or its immediate predecessor, the T5500) is the standard choice for budget laptops these days. With Centrino 2 and new CPUs around the corner, it's starting to look a bit dated, but as in the case of the Gateway P-6860FX, it's still perfectly fine for basic multitasking, such as Web surfing, media playback, and office work--and even gaming, if you have a powerful enough video card.
The included ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470 won't stand up to the GeForce 8800 found in the Gateway, but we still got 18.5 frames per second in Unreal Tournament III at 1,280x800. Turn off anti-aliasing and dial down the detail, and you can definitely get playable frame rates closer to 30fps.