CNET First Look
Toshiba Satellite E205-S1980Toshiba's holiday update of one of our favorite laptops, the sleek blue WiDi-enabled Satellite E205, adds Nvidia graphics and a WiMax antenna to the mix.
Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior associate editor at CNET.com and this is the Toshiba Satellite E205-S1980. Now, if it looks familiar, that's because you've seen this about a year ago at the last CES. We were very excited about the E205 that first came out as a Best Buy exclusive, had the same exact design and was one of the very first laptops we saw with Intel Wireless Display technology which transferred wireless signals for video over to a television with the help of this NETGEAR box. Now, that was the beginning of 2010 and here we are at the end of 2010 and some things have changed. Intel Wireless Display is still around but there are a lot of ways to stream video with a couple of other competing services and, in addition, now you have streaming video on your gaming consoles, you have streaming video on your iPad, so maybe the value proposition has changed a little bit. Still, the E205 remains a really nice, relatively slim laptop. However, maybe not as appealing as when we saw it the first time around. It has a Core i5 processor which is great. The S1980 adds two features. One, NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics with NVIDIA Optimus automatic switching technology. The graphics are kinda base entry level dedicated graphics. They're good for playing games, they're not spectacular, but they're definitely nicer than what was in there before which was nothing, it was just integrated graphics in that so you couldn't play games to the degree you could play them now. The other thing that's added is a WiMAX antenna for optional WiMAX connectivity in certain markets. Now, that's a nice idea but, really, we're almost not quite there yet with WiMAX in the United States, maybe in another year we'll get to the point where that becomes a fantastic feature. If you're in a place that uses WiMAX, well, that could be useful for you. While having automatic switching NVIDIA graphics is great on this laptop, we found the battery actually took a hit from the last time we reviewed it. It's about an hour less battery life and that could matter if you're looking for a laptop to stay away from an outlet for a couple more hours. Overall, the price is a $1079. Now, that's higher than what we were seeing before at the beginning of the year. This configuration, for the S1904, was $899 and that was a really attractive proposition in the beginning of 2010 because you were getting Intel Wireless Display and a new Core i5 processor. Now, $1079 is kind of a little high, actually. I mean, we saw the Dell XPS which has fantastic audio and a lot of great features, its comparative entry level price is about $849, so, it's going to be a little bit higher than what you can get out there but still it does have a nice form factor and has a slot loading drive, not Blu-ray, but DVD, and the screen is 1366 X 768. Now, that's not as high-res as maybe we would have liked and the worst part may be is that the speakers inside are really subpar. They're not gonna give you a great experience. You're gonna wanna plug in headphones. So, this is really meant to connect your television, if you do that, obviously, the audio will sound great through your TV or your sound system. Now, ergonomically, there are a few things we liked and disliked about this laptop. It does have a backlit keyboard which is a nice little perk you don't see in all laptops, but the trackpad really feels a little lost in the past. You know, compared to larger multitouch trackpads now, it's smaller, it's thinner, and it doesn't respond quite as well as we would like. Overall, it's still a really good laptop, maybe it's dropped down a little bit in our estimation after a year has gone by. I'm Scott Stein and this is the Toshiba Satellite E205-S1980 available exclusively at Best Buy.