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Toshiba Satellite A500 review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Feb 2010
Toshiba Satellite A500
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
590
inc VAT

It's a decent, enough laptop, but the keyboard lets it down and you can get better specified laptops for the same price.

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Specifications

16 in 1,366x768 display, 2.8kg, 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The A500 is a smart-looking machine, with a swirling, glossy pinstripe pattern and silver strips around the edges of the case and lid, and subtle white LED indicators. Toshiba has used the entire width of the case for the keyboard, and has included a numberpad to the right side. The keys have flat tops but are spaced far enough apart that you don't tend to hit adjoining keys, and the layout is standard.

However, there is considerable flex in the keyboard panel, which means that, despite a crisp action on each key, the bounce kills the feedback and makes touch-typing frustrating. In fact, the entire case feels a bit flimsy and sounds hollow when you tap it, and the lid flexes on its hinge more than we'd care for.

We liked the touchpad, which has a smooth, translucent patch on the case that's almost indistinguishable from the underlying pattern. It sits right above two massive buttons, set on the edge of the case where your thumb naturally rests, which have a light action. Unlike the see-saw buttons we usually find, the A500's buttons are actually easier to press in the middle where the two buttons meet, which makes them very comfortable to use.

An overall benchmark score of 64, thanks to the 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T660 processor and 4GB RAM, means that the A500 will be suitable for most office and internet applications, but not intensive video or image editing. A dedicated Nvidia GeForce G 210M graphics chipset helped the A500 to 16.2fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark; at 1024x768 and with settings turned down, it scored a more playable 25.1fps. It'll handle older and more sedate games, but not the latest action games. More importantly, the graphics chip can handle HD movies perfectly.

The 16in screen is bright and colours are vibrant, although the glossy finish and tight vertical viewing angles mean it's not suited for areas with bright overhead lights. Its 1,366x768 resolution gives a decent amount of desktop space and is perfect for 720p HD movies.

Sound, on this laptop, is actually pretty good, thanks to the Harmon/Kardon speakers. We found them clear and loud enough for watching a movie on your own. If you want to play music or get the full home cinema experience, however, you can use the HDMI output to connect to a larger screen or an AV amplifier. There's also an eSATA port for external hard disks and an ExpressCard slot for peripherals such as a TV tuner. The 500GB hard disk gives you plenty of disk space for all of your documents.

Toshiba's done a pretty good job with the A500-19X, but there's nothing here that really makes this laptop stand out compared to the competition. At this price, you can get better specified laptops.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T6600
Processor clock speed2.2GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size41x384x259mm
Weight2.8kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle16W
Power consumption active37W

Display

Viewable size16 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce G 210M
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelTSSTcorp TS-L633C
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothno
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/54
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output/S/PDIF (shared), minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year carry-in
Price£590
Detailswww.toshiba-europe.com
Supplierhttp://www.play.com

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