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Toshiba Satellite U500-186 review

Will Stapley
11 Nov 2009
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.

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Specifications

13.3 in 1,280x800 display, 2.1kg, 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600, 3.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

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 1,280x800, rather than the 16:9 screen with a resolution of 1,366x768 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***
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T6600
Processor clock speed2.2GHz
Memory3.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size41x317x228
Weight2.1kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle20W
Power consumption active37W

Display

Viewable size13.3 in
Native resolution1,280x800
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity250GB
Optical drive modelLG GU10N
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothno
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/54
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo, xD
Other ports1x eSATA, optical S/PDIF output

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9, Toshiba DVD player
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£599
Detailswww.toshiba.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.johnlewis.com

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