by Rene Verbeek, Netherlands
Note: The Toshiba Satellite A80 is currently only available in Asia and Europe, it is similar to the Satellite M40/M45 being sold in North America
The Toshiba Satellite A80 offers an affordable mobile multimedia laptop with a good processor, wireless communication built-in and good battery life so that the maximum mobility is guaranteed throughout the day
Toshiba Satellite A80 specs for my model:
Reasons for Buying
I bought this laptop for its good performance and reliability that I trust with the Toshiba name. Desktop computers are nice and fast, but nowadays portable systems are matching desktops speed and power and are good for home and office -- which is just the thing I was looking for.
I wanted the latest light notebook complete with the latest Intel Centrino platform, a nice configuration, decent multimedia options, freedom from wires and a good looking design.
The first notebook that caught my attention was the Toshiba A80, after some days thinking searching on the web I also looked at the Acer Aspire 3613WLMi_1024, but it had the older version of the Intel Centrino platform and this gave me second thought's.
After some days of thinking more about my choices and checking things out, I made the choice of choosing style, a thin design and a good price and thta lead me back to the Toshiba A80.
I purchased this laptop at a place called Media Markt in the Netherlands. I had planned to spend about 1,200 Euros and nothing more, not even one euro. It was early in the morning when I got to the shop, I had used the web to do research and found that this Media Markt carried the Toshiba Satellite A80 and would have it on display.
When I tried the laptop out at the store the blue LED light indicators for power, hard drive, and battery straight away caught my eye. These lights are just used to tell you the battery is charging, the power is on or the hard drive is being accessed, but they also look pretty too and made it even more appealing to me!
I looked and looked and finally decided the A80 was for me, so I contacted the salesman and asked him if it was in stock, after a few seconds he came back and there was my notebook in a simple looking box. After paying for the laptop I hurried home quickly (anxious to use it!), and after some travel minutes I got home, opened the box and there it was nicely packed for transport and wrapped in some special black plastic for protection. I tore off the plastic packaging for the laptop and the rest of the items, connected the power adapter and started the laptop, registered my copy of Windows XP with Microsoft and then went straight to the Toshiba site to register for support and also for theft protection. All included the final cost of the laptop was 1,149 Euros.
Design & Build Quality
The design and look is good, it comes in a nice silver colour and has a very nice black keyboard. The screen is also painted black around the edges. The laptop has on its front edges nice blue lights, and some great Harmon/Kardon speakers. The name brand speakers were a nice surprise as I had found no mention in the research I did on the internet about having these.
The screen is perfectly connected to the laptop, the hinges are good. After testing and trying to bend the screen and pushing on the lid area you can see some ripples on the LCD, but you have to push hard to see that.
Toshiba Satellite A80 right side view (view larger image)
Toshiba Satellite A80 left side view (view larger image)
Toshiba Satellite A80 back side view (view larger image)
Toshiba Satellite A80 top view (view larger image)
Simply closing the lid is no problem, but getting the lid open is a little bit harder because the hinges are very good and rigid, so they don't let the screen wobble.
One thing I don't like about the look, and it's a small complaint as they can be removed, is all of the stickers included on it. The Microsoft, Nvidia, and Intel stickers are no problem but the big red sticker about OneNote 2003 isn't very good looking because of all the text.
Well the screen is just great, it's a glossy finish screen, or what Toshiba calls TruBrite, and has an XGA resolution. This display glossy is very nice for when you are watching a movie on the laptop, and also for when you are doing some work with photo's -- the brightness and high detail real come out at you.
The largest resolution available with this screen is 1024 x 768 with a maximum number of colours of 16.7 million. The laptop can also be connected to an external display, here are some details about the external display options:
Internal Harman/Kardon speakers are included for sound and high audio quality. The speakers are AC '97-compatible and provide SRS TruSurround XT Technology with virtual surround sound. Although the speakers are really good, external speakers are going to give more power. When playing music, the Harman/Kardon speakers in this notebook will give you the feeling of bass, treble and power in some artist's voices.
The speaker volume can be adjusted by hand using the control buttons are set to SRS with 3D support automatically, you can also adjust this using a button.
Overall the speakers are nice and the sound is great, as I type this review I'm listening to background music on them and it sounds good.
Processor and Performance
The processor I got with the Satellite A80 is the Intel Centrino Pentium M 730, 1.6GHz. This processor sports the latest Intel Pentium M technology and it's placed on motherboard with the Intel i915pm for support with PCI-E x16. It delivers more then enough power for office work and games, with the power connected or on battery power.
The laptop delivers more than enough power to render and edit home made videos or to do more demanding work when editing some photos. When using it just for office use it delivers enough power, when using it for some database stuff sometimes the laptop struggles, but you can't expect server performance from a mobile computer that isn't using the latest Intel Xeon processor. Multi tasking applications still seem to run faster on desktops I've used, but it's still easy for this laptop and some day laptops will rule the world and we'll not need desktops.
The Super Pi calculation for calculating Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy took 1.59
|Toshiba Satellite A80 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 59s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
For some further Benchmarks please visit this link for further details.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Toshiba Satellite A80 (view larger image)
The keyboard is easy to type on, sometimes too easy. At least I have found you will have to press the key a little harder to get a letter on the screen.
The layout of the keyboard and the Fn keys is fine, there are not too many extra hidden functions or other things needed to do using the keys -- just the few you need for starting some extra Toshiba features.
The Multimedia keys on the top of the keyboard look nice, they are small round buttons. The power button is nice and easy to push, the blue light gives it a nice touch too.
Hardware buttons at the top of the keyboard (view larger image)
The touchpad is easy to use and the corners of the touchpad have hidden features such as scrolling, this can be handy but in my case it can sometimes be annoying if you press in the corner when moving over the touchpad. The mouse buttons that are under the touchpad are simple and function just like the left and right mouse buttons on a regular mouse.
Input and Output Ports
The Satellite A80 comes with a good array of connection ports:
The little orange light on the A80 is for indicating if the wireless radio is on or off, but there's no hardware button to turn wireless on or off. In order to turn wireless on/off you can use the Fn key with F8, but when doing this the orange light does not adjust to reflect the correct state of wireless on/off.
The USB ports have no problem powering an external USB 2.5" hard drive, I advise when doing this to use the laptop connected to a power socket otherwise the external hard drive will really drain your battery power.
The bottom of the laptop doesn't have much going on or any ports. On the bottom you can remove the cover for the memory slots and it is easy to open for upgrading the RAM there. On the bottom is also an area to check you wireless card or to replace it if necessary. The HDD is accessible from the bottom and is placed in a special housing for protection. The battery is easy to take out, but it's also very well connected and a locked very well when you use the special lock switches.
The fan is very quiet and it's also very important to keep this area open, so to using the laptop on your lap isn't any problem as long as you keep the fan clear and make sure it will cool the CPU and notebook.
The Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG internal wireless card works perfectly and doesn't give any problems connecting to my wireless network.
The Satellite A80 laptop will run exactly 3 hours on battery life when running on full CPU power, GPU power and loaded with some hot games such as Far Cry or Call of Duty.
The games can be played in High Details setting with no problem, but the laptop is going to give you problems when the power reaches about 25% because then the laptop switches to a lower processor setting profile by default to conserve battery power. Personally I would like to see a little bit more battery life, 4 hours would be perfect for my needs when pushing the laptop. However, the laptop will run for 5 hours on battery power when just using it for office application such as email, Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint.
Operating System and Software
The included OS is Microsoft Windows XP Home edition SP2 and it is installed by default in 3 languages. Upon setup I selected my Language (Dutch). After the setup of the OS is complete it will ask you to register at Microsoft for support and to keep windows up to date.
Toshiba is delivers several software tools such as Config Free, Toshiba Assist, Sonic Record, Microsoft OneNote, InterVideo and WinDVD Creator. And for security software included is Norton Internet Security for 90 Days.
I have had no problems with this laptop so far, after registering the laptop with Toshiba they will offer you to keep up to date by mail, so they can inform you about update's new software and other important issues.
The only thing I have to complain about so far is related to the fan, strangely when you press the keys around where the fan is you can hear the fan make a noise that's a little bit annoying.
The Toshiba Satellite A80-138 model with the Nvidia Geforce Go 6200 64MB graphics card and the latest Intel Centrino is just the right laptop for me. Keep in mind it's my review and I chose a laptop that fits my needs, and there are many other good laptops out there that may suit you better, but if you feel the A80 suits you as well then I have no problem recommending it. I also like the fact Toshiba has been in the business of making laptops for a very long time now and know what they are doing.
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