Weighing 4.1 pounds with a 12.1-inch, glossy, wide-screen display, the Intel Core Duo-based Toshiba Satellite U205 notebook lies on the cusp of both the ultraportable and thin-and-light categories. Featuring the same chassis and internals as Toshiba's Tecra M6, which was designed for business users, the Satellite U205 crams features we expect in a thin-and-light--such as an integrated optical drive, biometric security, and plenty of ports--into a small package with the extremely low starting price of $959. Competitors such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X60s and the Sony VAIO SZ are both more expensive and feature rich. However, the Satellite U205's direct competitor, the Lenovo 3000 V100, is probably a better buy, as it offers faster performance and a few more features for roughly the same price.
The Satellite U205 has most of the features that users will need, including Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem for networking; integrated 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR are optional. The notebook also has three USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire, and VGA-out; a CardBus card slot, but not the newest ExpressCards; and a 5-in-1 media card reader that reads Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, and xD Picture Card. Buyers also have their choice of either a CD-RW/DVD combo or dual-layer DVD burner. The notebook also features multimedia controls above the keyboard for playing, pausing, fast-forwarding, and rewinding either music or movies; these controls are the only meaningful difference between the Satellite U205 and the Tecra M6. Like its sibling, the Satellite U205 is also lacking an integrated Webcam for videoconferencing, which is optional on competing models.
The Satellite U205 starts at a very reasonable $959, but the top configuration can cost up to $2,627. Our review unit cost $1,349 for a mix of mostly average components, including a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1GB of midrange 533MHz RAM, a 120GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm, integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics, and a dual-layer DVD burner.
On CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, the Satellite U205 ran well behind the 2GHz Lenovo 3000 V100 and the 1.83GHz Sony VAIO SZ. It was roughly the same speed as our Lenovo ThinkPad X60s test unit, which had a slower processor but faster RAM. Our 1.3GHz Satellite U205 was about 16 percent faster than our 1.66GHz Tecra M6.
The battery on the Satellite U205 was good, clocking out after 4 hours, 39 minutes of use--33 minutes longer than the Tecra M6. The Sony VAIO SZ and the Lenovo X60s both turned in significantly longer times, a remarkable 5 hours, 36 minutes and an extraordinary 8 hours, 16 minutes, respectively.
Toshiba offers a one-year parts-and-labor warranty on the Satellite U205, which is average for consumer-targeted systems. You can upgrade the warranty to three years for an additional $134 if you buy directly from Toshiba. Support is accessible through a 24/7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and both a carry- and mail-in repair service.
For more information on the Toshiba Satellite U205 see our review of the virtually identical Toshiba Tecra M6.
(Longer bars indicate faster performance)
(Longer bars indicate longer battery life)