by Daniel Southern, Texas USA
I bought the Toshiba Satellite A75 notebook computer for school and other applications as well as gaming. Most people would agree that I should have gone for a Pentium M if I am going to be transporting it to class and could take advantage of the better battery life. I probably would have if I didn't get such a good deal on this one. I snagged it for about $600 less than retail from where I work. The A75 is a desktop replacement style notebook, which is what I wanted, so I jumped on this deal.
Toshiba Satellite A75
Toshiba Satellite A75 Specs as Purchased
Design and Build
The design is fairly sleek as a nice consumer line notebook should be. A nice blue power light sits above some media buttons, it's nothing special but it looks cool. The top (back side of screen) is a slick metallic-looking cobalt color which is nice opposed to some of the standard black, charcoal and magnesium alloy cases. Overall this unit is fairly sturdy. I do not feel like I am going to break it while I'm moving it around and I even twisted the screen lid a bit to test it out, it holds up pretty well. Again, it is a consumer line, not business so it's not quite the rigid metal frames of the expensive ones, but does quite well.
The top of the Toshiba Satellite A75 has a cool looking color
The weight is not a huge problem with me. A lot of people prefer the small and lightweight models of notebooks these days, but this one comes in at 7.9 pounds and doesn't cause me any trouble. As a college student, it's about the size and weight of some of my larger books for class. Sitting in my lap it can get a little warm, but not unbearable under normal use with the processor power turned down. If the CPU is set to high it heats up rather quickly and the fans kick on, and their noise is a little annoying after a while, but with good ventilation, it rarely gets hot enough to require much use of the fans.
The screen is absolutely wonderful. It was a factor in my purchasing this machine. A Toshiba Pentium M system with a widescreen TruBrite screen is several thousand dollars more, so this unit was quite appealing. It is always bright enough for me to see, even when I set the brightness down to save battery life. When outdoors, there is a glare on it because of the glossy finish, but it doesn't annoy me because the screen is bright enough to shine through and I never really notice the glare. Indoors, I haven't noticed a glare at all and it is the brightest, most brilliantly colored screen I have yet to see. Absolutely beautiful. I was fortunate in that it has absolutely no dead or partially lit pixels. It is a 15.4" widescreen factory set at 1280x800.
The speakers' sound quality is about standard for notebooks today. The volume they can produce is above average level, getting quite loud with minimal distortion. They do, of course, sound too high-pitched and tinny, but that is to be expected. Headphones or external speakers are recommended for movies or music, but other sounds are fairly tolerable.
Processor and Performance
The overall speed and performance of the system is quite fast. I never have noticed any serious lagging when loading programs and playing games. Boot up is about as quick as my desktop with similar specs. I am picky when it comes to performance and do not tolerate lagging. The hard drive is 4200 RPM, slow as far as hard drives are considered as a whole, but for notebooks, it is pretty much the standard. Even with being a slower RPM, the seek times are quick and everything loads with haste. The RAM, sadly, is only at 512MB as of now. It is perfectly tolerable, but I plan to upgrade to 1BG as soon as possible, just for my peace of mind. However, I have heard many reports that the extra 512 does not make a world of difference in some machines, but I'll see about that. The games I have run on the A75 so far include Rise of Nations, run at maximum graphics, and Unreal Tournament at max graphics, as well. Both of them run amazingly well. I have not yet tried a high end game such as Doom 3 or Half Life 2, but I seriously doubt that any notebook less than one of those $3000 mega-machines would be able to play them with adequate satisfaction.
We use the program Super Pi to get a benchmark of processor speed. The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy. Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark. Below is a comparison chart of how the Satellite A75 with it's 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor stacked up to other similar notebooks when running this calculation:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Toshiba Satellite A75 (3.2GHz Pentium 4)||1m 57s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Pentium M)||2m 23s|
|Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)||3m 3s|
|Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Pentium M)||2m 28s|
HD Tune: Average Transfer Rate -- 21.6mb/s Access Time -- 18ms Burst Rate -- 80mb/s
HD Tune Benchmarks Average Transfer Rate 21.6 MB/sec Acess Time 18.7 ms Burst Rate 80 MB/sec
Keyboard and Touchpad
Personally, after about 2 days to get used to it, I actually type much better with this keyboard than the one on my desktop. I enjoy the feel of the keys, not to mention how quiet they are, as I type a lot. The touchpad on Toshiba's fit the criteria for response that I prefer. The physical surface is very smooth and it is very sensitive to touch. This is a plus, for I don't want to feel like I am scraping my finger across it like I have on laptops in the past. My only real complaint is the odd placement of the Windows key. Instead of at least one on the left side between the CTRL and ALT buttons, it is high on the right side at the top next to the print screen button. I use the Windows key rather frequently, or I did, the odd placement has taken that shortcut away from me.
Input and Ports
The selection of I/O ports on this machine is adequate. It has 2 USB 2.0 ports in the back and a more convenient one on the right side by the volume control. It does not have a memory card reader, nor does it have infrared. It has 2 video out ports: S-Video and standard RGB. It also has a serial and a parallel, which is nice for older printers.
Front side view of Satellite A75
Left side view of Satellite A75
Right side view of Satellite A75
Back side view of Satellite A75
Toshiba packages the Atheros Super G 802.11g wireless adapter built in. I love this feature, it is wonderful. It works extremely well, no difficulty and it has a convenient switch on the right side to toggle on/off. Wireless internet is a marvel in its own right. Not that it is a huge deal, but I would rather have one built in as opposed to one in the PC Card slot sticking out. There is no Bluetooth on this model. I have nothing to utilize the technology anyway, so that has no effect on me.
Battery life is surprisingly decent for a big and powerful desktop replacement. I set the screen to middle level brightness and also set the hard drives and screen to never turn off and left the wireless adapter on. With these settings the system ran for 3 hours even.
The computer comes loaded with Windows XP Home and several other pieces of bundled software. A 60 day trial of Norton Antivirus, a 60 day trial of Office Standard Edition, Microsoft One Note, Microsoft Works, and some DVD/CD Burning Software. The trial versions are nothing special, just a way to get you to get used to having a nice product then they snatch it away from you so you will fork over the money to buy it. Quicken 2004 was preloaded and is full version, it's very nice and I'm glad to have it.
Support and Warranty
I have not used the Toshiba customer support. I have had no reason to call them. I have heard both good and bad things about the customer service, so I am not in a good position to relay information pertaining to it. This notebook does come with a one year warranty that covers defective parts. I have not yet purchased an extended warranty but will purchase a 2 or 3 year accidental damage and theft warranty in the near future.
I only have a few complaints about this notebook. First is the amount of memory, although the 512 can easily be added to. Another is the heat that it generates and the fan noise that is a byproduct of that. However, for energy purposes, the processor can be set to "low" speed/power and that keeps the fans off and the heat down, with little effect on the performance, even during gaming.
I love the fact that I can get a powerful computer in such a compact package. The screen and the DVD-RW drive are the highlights of the system, as well as having an ATI graphics chip. Overall I love this computer and would recommend it to people who want an excellent desktop replacement. If someone was really looking for battery life, I might have to recommend a similar system, only with a Pentium M instead of Pentium 4. For the price I paid (far less than retail), this computer is amazing. At retail price of over $1400 dollars, it's still a great machine for the money, but it's not quite the steal I got, so it may not seem as worth the money. In conclusion: great machine for all performance needs with adequate battery life, unless doing processor intensive applications. Recommended!Pricing and Availability
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