Toshiba Satellite A100 (PSAA9A-0CU004)
- Good value for money, Sturdy
- Mid range battery life
For the price tag, you're looking at a notebook that will carry you into the future. It's light enough to travel with, powerful enough for most tasks and seems sturdy enough to take a few knocks.
Price$ 2,199.00 (AUD)
Integrating all the perks of the latest Toshiba range, the A100 delivers good performance in a portable package, with functionality for a range of uses. The smooth lines of the Satellite chassis add to the aesthetic and compliment a number of tweaks we've seen in Toshiba's notebooks recently, including Harmon/Kardon speakers and Toshiba's two-in-one touchpad with integrated hotkeys for e-mail, wireless networking and printing.
The 15.4in WXGA screen runs at a max resolution of 1280x800 and has good brightness with reasonable contrast, but most of all it has great viewing angles, remaining clear when viewed from off-centre positions. Although colour inversion (an optical effect where colours change at specific angles) is still a problem on the vertical axis, the clarity in all other respects surpasses that of lower-end A100 models and many other notebooks in the same price and size class. Watching a DVD with the installed DVD +/-RW drive not only looked great on the screen, but Toshiba's standard Harmon/Kardon speakers produced a good clean and even sound, which is ideal for movies on the road. With dual-layer writing capabilities, this optical drive is also an easy means to back up large amounts of data, should your 80GB hard drive become overcrowded.
A media remote is a nice touch and a five-in-one (SD/MS/MS-Pro/MMC/xD) media card reader also adds to the media functionality of this unit. With an Intel Core Duo 1.73GHz T2250 CPU and 1GB (2x 512MB) of 533MHz DDR2 RAM this unit performed as expected, achieving a nice score of 91 in World Bench 5. The GeForce Go 7300 graphics card produced a result of 10,582 in 3DMark 2001 SE; about double what you get from Intel's onboard graphics, but still not a huge score. Playing older or less taxing games, or performing low-end rendering will be fine. However, its meagre score of 645 in 3DMark 2006 suggests that most of the latest games will struggle to run smoothly.
Battery life wasn't outstanding, returning middle-of-the-road results. In MobileMark 2005's reader and productivity tests, it lasted 168min and 155min respectively. We also looped a DVD as a worst-case scenario test, which the A100 endured for 115min.
The keyboard is nicely spaced and the keys are a good size. A set of media controls on the left gives you some handy access for media navigation. The Windows key has been shifted to the top right of the keyboard, which will be a blessing for some, but others will take time to get used to it.
The chassis flexes a little, but not enough to worry about. More importantly, the bezel around the LCD seems fairly sturdy, flexing very little when pressure is applied. A volume dial on the front of the chassis gives you easy control without having to mess with Windows settings; a handy feature, especially when something plays a lot louder than you were expecting. Measuring 360mm x 267mm x 29.8mm and weighing 2.7kg, the A100 is about average size for a unit in this class.
As a Centrino Duo system, you get Intel Pro wireless 802.11a/b/g, but you also get Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth, FireWire and a 56Kbps modem to answer all your connectivity needs. There's no DVI port, but VGA and S-Video ports will suffice for most people. Four USB 2.0 ports should be enough for just about everyone's peripheral requirements.
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I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
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