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Toshiba Satellite P305 review: Toshiba Satellite P305

Toshiba Satellite P305

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
6 min read

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.


Toshiba Satellite P305

The Good

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

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 17-inch Satellite P305 is a well-made, inexpensive desktop replacement, but much more powerful laptops are available for just a little more money.

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.

Price $1,009
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550
Memory 3GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM965
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
Category Desktop replacement

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.

The Satellite P305 ran for 1 hours and 23 minutes on our battery drain test. This isn't great, even for a desktop replacement--although to be fair, systems such as this are not expected to spend much time away from an outlet. HP's 17-inch Pavilion dv9700t managed 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it's a more expensive system.

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)
Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
,1440x900, 4X AA, 8X AF  
1,280x800, 4X AA, 8X AF  
Gateway P-6860FX
Acer Aspire 8920-6671
Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Gateway P-6860FX
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce Go 8800M GTS; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.

Acer Aspire 8920
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition SP1; 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9500; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9650M GS; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.

Toshiba Satellite P305-S8825
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm .

HP Pavilion dv9700t
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8600M GS; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm.


Toshiba Satellite P305

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Battery 6Support 6