So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Toshiba Satellite P210/J00 (PSPBQA-02J001)
- HDMI output, 17in screen, good value
- Slow CPU for a desktop replacement
Despite returning slower results on our benchmarks than we'd like from a desktop replacement, the low cost and large screen make this unit very good value.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Designed for the entertainment and high-end performance market, several Toshiba Satellite notebooks included HD-DVD drives prior to Blu-ray's victory in the recent high-definition format war. However, since the company's decision to cease the production and development of HD-DVD drives, the Satellite range has reverted to DVD optical drives. Despite this loss of an HD drive, the qualities of the Satellite range should not be discounted out of hand.
The Toshiba Satellite P210/J00 comes in the signature Satellite body that fans of the series will instantly recognise. Lifting the blue lid reveals a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, both of which are coloured in gunmetal grey. Although simplistic, the design is also neutral and doesn't stand out, making it suitable for many environments. It has a set of Harman Kardon speakers, which pump out sound that is very good for a notebook.
Powering the unit is a 2.2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-64 dual-core CPU with an 800MHz front side bus speed and a 1MB L2 cache. Also installed are 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, a 200GB SATA hard drive, which spins at 5400rpm, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 graphics card.
In the 3DMark06 benchmark, the notebook managed to score 3040, indicating an ability to play older games like FEAR at mid- to low-level settings – trying to play newer games will likely result in frustration and dismay. In our WorldBench 6 tests, the P210/J00 got a score of 69, which means it's capable of running multiple office programs, but not fantastic at performing more processor-intensive tasks such as video editing.
The Turion CPU isn't exactly a powerhouse, as its performance in iTunes can attest. In this test, in which we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s, its time of 1min 42sec is a little disappointing for a desktop replacement. However, the Turion is a low-cost CPU, and what you forego in performance, you gain in value.
Indeed, lower cost is the main benefit of the AMD Turion CPU and no doubt it's what has helped Toshiba offer this 17in notebook at $1999. The 17in screen has a native resolution of 1440x900. Images are reproduced with vivid details and movies are shown with crisp clarity, but there is some noticeable (although bearable) reflectivity in locations with fluorescent lighting. If using the notebook in an outdoors environment, the reflections become much more severe, but this unit is far too large to be of much use sitting anywhere but a desk.
The P210's status as a desktop replacement is confirmed by its weight. At 3.5kg without the power supply unit (PSU) and 4.2kg with the PSU, carrying around this device with the intention of using it outdoors would result in strong biceps, but little else.
Its home on a tabletop with a power point close by is reaffirmed by the results from our DVD rundown test, in which we play a DVD while the notebook is running on batteries. At 1hr 7min, the P210 isn't much use away from an outlet. It should be noted, however, that this is a worst-case scenario and with smart power management a user can get a lot more time out of their system.
If you are travelling, and do have to take the P210 with you on the road, the fingerprint reader on the right of the touch pad will help maintain security. Thanks to a built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam, video conferencing shouldn't be difficult either.
In terms of connectivity and features, this unit shines, considering its low price. For burning DVDs, you get a dual-layer DVD-RW drive; meanwhile, photos from a digital camera can be transferred quickly thanks to the built-in memory card reader (for SD, MS,MSPro, MMC and xD formats). The notebook also has plenty of USB 2.0 ports (six of them!), as well as a FireWire port and Bluetooth 2.0. For networking, you get a gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11a/g/n wireless connections. For audio, there are two headphone ports, a microphone jack, and a line-in jack.
If the 17in screen isn't enough for you, the P210 also has D-Sub and S-Video out facilities, as well as an HDMI output for easy connection to home theatre devices. If you wish to add a TV tuner, 3G data card or e-SATA ports, you can do so via the notebook's ExpressCard slot.
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