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Toshiba Satellite U305 review: Toshiba Satellite U305

There's a lot to like about the Satellite U305, Toshiba's entry into the fast-growing field of 13.3-inch laptops. Its display size effectively balances readability and portability, and its screen finish provides bright, vibrant images without distracting reflections. Its wide case provides plenty of room for a comfortable keyboard and most of the ports a home user will need. When it comes to performance, the $1,349 U305-S5127 we tested proved it could handle the multitasking that's typical to home use, and its nine-cell battery posted one of the highest battery scores we've seen. Our primary complaints about the Satellite U305 relate to its design; at 1.5 inches thick, it's a bit chunkier than other 13.3-inch laptops. And its case features annoyingly large Toshiba branding. Except for those issues, the Toshiba Satellite U305 should suit home users who want a laptop that's packed with features but still lightweight.


Toshiba Satellite U305

The Good

Lightweight; decent performance; lengthy battery life with nine-cell battery; comfy keyboard; bright but not overly glossy screen; includes handy fingerprint reader

The Bad

Thicker than other laptops in its class; prominent Toshiba branding on the case; small mouse buttons; terrible speakers

The Bottom Line

It's a little thicker than other 13.3-inch models, but the Toshiba Satellite U305 should suit home users who want a laptop that's packed with features but still lightweight.
Toshiba Satellite U305

Price as reviewed/starting price $1,349/$949
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100
Memory 2GB of 667MHz
Hard drive 200GB at 4,200rpm
Graphics Mobile Intel GMA X3100
Chipset Mobile Intel 965 Express
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Dimensions 12.1x9x1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 13.34 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 5/5.8 pounds
Category Thin-and-light

Measuring 1.5 inches thick, the Satellite U305 is a bit chunkier than other laptops with 13.3-inch displays, such as the Apple MacBook, which isn't exactly what we'd call svelte, and the Sony VAIO SZ. Thickness aside, the Toshiba is rather compact and, with a 5-pound weight (including the extended-life battery), easy to carry. With its rounded edges, reflective blue-black exterior, and silver interior, the Satellite U305 could be mistaken for an HP Pavilion from afar, if not for the giant silver Toshiba logo emblazoned in 0.75-inch letters across the laptop's lid and the brightly glowing Satellite logo on the left side of the laptop's front edge. We like the Satellite U305's design, but we didn't like feeling like we were sitting behind a Toshiba billboard every time we booted up.

The 13.3-inch wide-screen display has a decent 1,280x800 native resolution.Toshiba outfits the screen with its TruBrite technology for a brighter, more vibrant image. Unlike other extra-bright laptop displays we've seen, the Satellite U305's screen doesn't result in overly distracting reflections and glare. Movies look great on it, though you'll want to use headphones because the integrated stereo speakers located just below the display produce muddled, awful sound.

The Satellite U305 includes Toshiba's redesigned keyboard with 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). The keyboard flexes a little, but that didn't seem to affect our typing; in fact, typing on the Satellite U305 was remarkably comfortable and the spacious keyboard minimized typos. The laptop's touch pad, though small, was largely functional. 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. The mouse buttons are tiny--not much wider than the width of our thumb--in order to accommodate a fingerprint reader between them. Given that the print reader does not double as a scroll button, we'd rather it be located elsewhere on the keyboard deck so we could have larger mouse buttons. 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. A volume wheel on the left side and a Wi-Fi on/off switch on the front edge round out the features.

  Toshiba Satellite U305 Average for thin-and-light category
Video VGA-out VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Three USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat card reader Three USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 slot PC Card or ExpressCard slot
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The Satellite U305 offers a fairly average assortment of ports and connections for a thin-and-light, with the exception of S-Video out and the option for built-in WWAN. The latter is hardly vital for the home user, though, particularly considering users can add cellular connectivity via the built-in ExpressCard slot. The laptop also includes a 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display for videoconferencing.

Pricing for the Satellite U300, the customizable version of the laptop, starts at $949, while several fixed-configuration U305 models are available starting at $1,099. We reviewed the most expensive fixed configuration, the Satellite U305-S5127, which still costs a reasonable $1,349 for Intel's latest Centrino Duo platform with Intel Turbo Memory, a massive 200GB hard drive, and an extended nine-cell battery. The Satellite U305-S5127 did pretty well on CNET Labs' benchmarks, keeping pace with the similarly configured Toshiba Tecra M8 and the Enpower ENP660 on our Multitasking and iTunes tests. Loaded with twice as much RAM as those two models, the Satellite U305-S5127 pulled well ahead on our Photoshop test. Raw performance aside, the Satellite U305-S5127 can easily multitask through the Web surfing, media consumption, and office applications that make up the bulk of home laptop use.

The Satellite U305-S5127's standard nine-cell battery excelled on our taxing DVD drain test, lasting 4 hours, 26 minutes. That's well beyond (by an hour or more) the battery life of the competitors' systems, which included smaller, six-cell batteries. In fact, of all the thin-and-light laptops we've tested, the Satellite U305-S5127 fell behind only the Dell Latitude D630 (also with a nine-cell battery) when it came to battery life. Our DVD drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect even longer battery life during typical Windows use.

Toshiba backs the Satellite U305 with an industry-standard one-year warranty; extending the warranty to three years costs $134, with express and on-site 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.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Toshiba Satellite U305-S5127

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Toshiba Satellite U305-S5127

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Toshiba Satellite U305-S5127

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In minutes  
Toshiba Satellite U305-S5127

System configurations:

Enpower ENP660
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 120GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite U305-S5127
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (shared) Mobile Intel 965GM; 200GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

Toshiba Tecra M8-S8011
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (Shared) Mobile Intel 965GM; 120GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Twinhead Durabook D13RY
Windows Vista Business Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 120GB Hitachi 5,400rpm


Toshiba Satellite U305

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Battery 9Support 5