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Toshiba Satellite U500-186 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 599
inc VAT

It's well built, but the U500-186's poor battery life and oversensitive touchpad let it down.

Specifications

13.3 in 1,280×800 display, 2.1kg, 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600, 3.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

http://www.johnlewis.com

At 2.1kg, Toshiba’s Satellite U500-186 is just over the 2kg weight limit for what we consider an ultra-portable laptop.

That said, its 13.3in screen keeps the size of the laptop down, so you could still happily carry it around. It’s a shame, then, that its battery life is so poor. Less than two-and-a-half hours is far short of what we’d expect for a laptop of this size and weight.

The 13.3in screen is extremely bright and has decent viewing angles. It’s a 16:10 screen with a resolution of 1,280×800, rather than the 16:9 screen with a resolution of 1,366×768 found on most modern laptops. This doesn’t make much difference, though: you get slightly fewer pixels horizontally, but more vertically. Two speakers just below the display manage to output loud, if not particularly bass-rich, audio.

With shiny and somewhat slippery keys packed close together, the keyboard isn’t the most comfortable to type on. The keys also have very little travel to them. However, it’s the touchpad that really lets the U500-186 down. Not only is it too small, but it’s also oversensitive, with the cursor occasionally leaping from one end of the screen to the other with just the faintest of touches.

A series of brightly lit touch-sensitive buttons are located just above the keyboard and provide quick access to media-related functions. Toshiba has also lit up the Satellite logo and placed a light strip across the top of the touchpad. If these illuminations annoy you, they can be switched off.

Toshiba has installed an Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 processor. It managed to perform reasonably well in our 2D benchmarks, with an overall score of 62. The U500-186’s 3D performance was very poor, with Intel’s GMA 4500M HD integrated graphics able to muster only 4.4fps in Call of Duty 4. The 250GB hard disk is a little disappointing at this price; we’d expect at least a 320GB model.

We like the solidly built chassis, but the U500-186’s touchpad lets it down, and for such a small laptop we’d expect better battery life. Samsung’s Q320 is a better choice if you want a small and portable budget laptop.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6600
Processor clock speed 2.2GHz
Memory 3.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 4GB
Size 41x317x228
Weight 2.1kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 1W
Power consumption idle 20W
Power consumption active 37W

Display

Viewable size 13.3 in
Native resolution 1,280×800
Graphics Processor Intel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video ports VGA
Graphics Memory 128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity 250GB
Optical drive model LG GU10N
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Bluetooth no
Wired network ports 1x 10/100
Wireless networking support 802.11n
PC Card slots 1x ExpressCard/54
Modem No
Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo, xD
Other ports 1x eSATA, optical S/PDIF output

Miscellaneous

Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Microsoft Works 9, Toshiba DVD player
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year collect and return
Price £599
Details www.toshiba.co.uk
Supplier http://www.johnlewis.com

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