Toshiba Satellite U400 / H00 (PSU44A-00H00C)
Looks good, lacks endurance.
- Good portability, Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, plenty of connectivity
- Short battery life
The U400 is a good size for travellers, has plenty of connectivity and good speed, and it's also well priced, but its battery life is short.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
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If you’re constantly on the go then there are four things you’ll definitely want out of a notebook: portability, connectivity, performance and longevity. While the Toshiba Satellite U400 easily scores high marks on the first two points, it falls short on the last two thanks to its CPU and low battery life.
Any user, especially those chasing deadlines, will appreciate the need to work on laptops in places without power points, be it on aeroplanes or at press conferences. With this in mind it was disappointing to get a time of 1hr 7min in our worst-case scenario battery test, which is about 23min less than we’d like to see. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that using a more economical power profile will extend how long the notebook lasts away from a power outlet.
The lower-than-average battery capacity is a pity because the unit itself is great for use while travelling. Measuring 314x231x38mm, the U400 weighs in at 2.1kg without the power supply and 2.51kg when it’s included.
The Toshiba is no speed demon. A 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU is the beating heart of the notebook; storage is provided by a 250GB hard drive that spins at 5400rpm. The unit also has 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM.
Although the CPU comes from the latest family of Intel dual-core laptop processors, that doesn’t automatically mean mind-blowing power as shown by our testing. The WorldBench 6 score of 76 basically translates into an ability to multitask with ease and run almost any office application without any problems, but it will be slightly slow when attempting more hardware-intensive tasks such as video-encoding.
In our iTunes test we convert 53min of .WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s in order to strain both cores of the processor. Although the U400’s time of 1min 28sec isn’t terrible in its own right, it simply confirms that higher-end software packages that require more punch will sometimes lag.
The Satellite is cosmetically pleasing. The piano-black finish with subtly contrasting horizontal stripes on the palm-rest provides a welcome point of difference to drab competitors and cousins, such as the Satellite Pro A300 (PSAGDA-00K00R).
But all of this means very little if you can’t connect to the world around you. Fortunately the Toshiba is very well-endowed in this area, and features three USB 2.0 Sleep-and-Charge ports, one of which doubles as an e-SATA port. An ExpressCard/54 slot allows for the devices like TV tuners to easily connect, while the HDMI port is great for those wanting to hook the notebook up to compatible plasma or LCD screens. The D-sub port on the left side is useful for external display devices like projectors and the FireWire port will facilitate direct connections to things like camcorders. On the front of the unit is the 5-in-1 card reader, which is perfect for camera-happy users who want a quick an easy way to transfer images from their memory cards to their laptops.
In terms of network connectivity, the U400 is brilliant thanks to its built-in 802.11n wireless networking and Gigabit Ethernet. Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities are also provided for users wanting to wirelessly connect compatible devices like headsets or speakers.
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For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
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The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
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