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Toshiba Satellite P500 review: Toshiba Satellite P500

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The Good Optional Blu-ray drive; fast in everyday use.

The Bad Horrible keyboard and mouse; screen doesn't have a 1080p resolution.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Satellite P500 is fabulous in most respects, but flawed in some crucial areas. It has an excellent, large, 18.4-inch screen, but its resolution is disappointing. It has a big, attractive chassis, but its keyboard and mouse are poor. Buy it if you're looking for a PC that doubles as a Blu-ray player, but be prepared to compromise

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7.5 Overall

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We never thought we'd see the day, but it's finally arrived: Toshiba, purveyor of the doomed HD DVD format, has swallowed its pride and released its first laptop to use the rival Blu-ray disc format -- the Satellite P500. The laptop comes in two forms. The £1,000 P500-12F ships with a Blu-ray drive and a slightly faster processor than that of the £800 P500-12D, which uses an ordinary DVD Super Multi drive. Here we review the P500-12F.

Kind of a big deal
The P500 is massive. It measures a quite staggering 443 by 42 by 294mm, and weighs 4.4kg. It's that big for a reason -- it houses a gigantic, 18.4-inch display. It's not quite as sizeable as the freak of nature that is the Dell XPS M2010, but, once you've got this sucker home, you won't be taking it anywhere else.

Blu movie connoisseur
The P500 is available with a DVD combo drive, but its biggest selling point is that it's also available with a Blu-ray drive. This is of the BD-RE variety, which means you can record, rewrite and play movies on it.

The P500's speakers are better than those of most laptops

Don't think you can watch these films in their full, 1080p glory, however, as the P500's display -- despite being gigantic -- has a relatively puny resolution of 1,680x945 pixels -- well short of the 1,920x1,080 pixels needed to fully exploit such films. On the plus side, the integrated Harmon Kardon speakers are better than those on your average laptop. They're loud enough to fill a small bedroom and offer surprisingly good fidelity.

Hook up, line in and sync her
Those who demand 1080p in all its glory have the option of outputting the video signal to an external display via the P500's HDMI port. This, you'll be pleased to hear, pipes the laptop's audio signal over the same cable, so you can use the P500 as a proper alternative to a standalone Blu-ray player.

The touch-sensitive media controls are a welcome touch, but we'd like a remote control too

Unfortunately, it doesn't ship with a remote control, but the laptop does have capacitive, white-backlit shortcut keys to the left of its keyboard that allow you to control the volume and playback of your media. In addition, the P500 has a VGA video output, four USB ports (one of which doubles as an eSATA port), 4-pin FireWire, and mic and headphone jacks.

Eek! A mouse!
Most large laptops have comfortable keyboards and mice that are easy to use. Not so with the P500. Its keyboard can feel as fiddly as a netbook's at times -- not due to its size, but due to the keys being so tightly packed together. They're also totally flat across the top, which means it's all too easy to mistake one key for another. We're not too fond of the mouse either. The trackpad is fine, but the large, chrome buttons are loud and clunky, and have a slightly cheap feel about them.

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