Toshiba's ultra-portable notebook, the Satellite U200, with a 12.1" screen and weighing in at only 4.1lbs offers affordability, durability, mobility and power. It has the same chassis and components as the Tecra M6, which was designed for business users. However, since the U200 is part of the Satellite series it is geared more towards the average user.
Note to readers: The Satellite U200 is also sold as the Toshiba Satellite U205 in the U.S.
The following is the configuration on the U200 being reviewed:
Reasons for Buying
Over the past two months I have been looking for a notebook that was light and durable enough to carry to school everyday in my back pack, but be powerful and feature-rich. I have looked seriously at the Compaq V2650CA, Acer 5502, Toshiba Satellite UF0H, and the Toshiba Satellite M100. Out of these, I found the M100 to have the better build, however I thought the weight and dimensions to be too high. Finally, I came across the U200 on Toshiba's web-site. The quality build of this practical looking, light and feature-rich machine won me over.
Where and How Purchased
After looking around for awhile, I bought the U200 preconfigured from a BestBuy, in Canada, for $1,599. After tax, the price was $1,801. Both Futureshop and Staples had their U200's for $100-$200 more, so the decision was a no brainer. I chose to purchase from a brick-and-mortar over a web retailer because of their close proximity, return policy and price protection.
Build & Design
The overall build quality of this machine is very good. It comes designed with a magnesium alloy chassis, air pocket cushioning, padding materials, HDD protection and a spill resistant keyboard. The notebook feels very solid and durable. There are no creaks when I lift the notebook from one of its corners. The overall design of this notebook is simple and practical with its gray and black exterior and only six, small external buttons.
When I press against the back of the screen there are no ripples, at all. However, the screen frame twists a little when moderate pressure is applied to the top corners. There is no wobbling when opening and closing the lid. Also, only one hand is needed to open the screen.
The U200 isn't the thinnest notebook in its class being about 2.5cm (or 1") thick. To get a better idea of the thickness, I put a Canadian $2 coin on the side.
Canadian $2 coin for thickness comparison (view large image)
This laptop has 3 USB ports, but I think one more would be better. Another thing to note is the location of the memory. Both slots for the memory are located underneath the keyboard. Thankfully, Toshiba provides easy to follow instructions on how to access these slots in the manual.
A look at the U200 screen (view large image)
The 12.1" WXGA TFT w/ Trubrite screen came without any dead pixels. The screen is very bright and evenly lit. The highest resolution is 1280 x 800. The horizontal viewing angles are excellent, allowing very wide viewing angles with very little ghosting. The vertical viewing angle is not as good but still satisfactory. There is minor leakage along the bottom of the screen as I've tried to show. Another thing about the screen is that it only opens to about 135 degrees.
Some light leakage can be seen at the bottom of the U200 (view large image)
The speakers are nothing special. They are located in the lid, just below the screen. They are not as tinny as were the speakers on the Acer 5502, but being as small as they are, provide very little bass. However, I watched March of the Penguins without head phones and had no complaints. They were clear and loud enough to listen to from across the room at half the maximum volume. Still, for someone who listens to a lot of music or watches a lot of movies, I recommend getting a good pair of headphones to hook up to the external headphone port. A nice added feature to note is the built in microphone which provides fairly clear recording.
Processor and Performance
The preconfigured U200 has handled every task I've thrown at it without slowing down with its Intel Core Duo 2300E. Windows XP boots up quickly. The hard-drive is a 100GB, 5400 RPM Toshiba. However, the HDD only shows 93.1GB. The memory is 1GB at 533MHz, enough for a typical user. One complaint is the time it took to shutdown, restart or go into standby. When I first started using this, it took over three minutes. However, after about a week of use the problem disappeared and it now shuts down quickly.
The benchmarks shown are about average compared to laptops with similar specs.
Super Pi Comparison Results
Toshiba Satellite U200 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)
Asus W3H760DD (2.0 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo)
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)
Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
PCMark05 Comparison Results
Toshiba Satellite U200 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)
|Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||3,487 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300)||2,879 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz)||1,877 PCMarks|
Heat and Noise
I've been monitoring the CPU and HDD temps using Everest. Both cores running light tasks such as, Firefox, iTunes, and MS Word, gave temperatures of about 30-40 degrees Celsius. Under heavier loads the CPU reached almost 60 degrees Celsius. This is somewhat cooler than the other laptops I've tried. Also the HDD runs at about 35-40 degrees Celsius under non-intensive use. The HDD is very quiet. The fan on this thing is really quiet even at its fastest setting. In fact, I can only hear it when I put my ear close to the exhaust in a silent room, so I don't really know how often it's running. This notebook came preinstalled with an acoustic silencer for the optical drive. In "Quiet mode" I can barely hear the drive running. After several hours of use, there is a minor amount of heat produced under the palm rests, where the HDD lies.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I have found the keyboard to be comfortable to type on. The keys are laid out very well, without too many extras, just some media buttons on the top. Also, the keys have more travel then the others, with a very Thinkpad feel to them, and do not feel squeezed together. One thing to note is the flex in the keyboard. This keyboard flexes a little more than any of the keyboards I've tried on other laptops.
The track pad is very tiny but, very responsive. The track pads buttons are also very tiny, but have a nice quite click to them. I would definitely recommend buying a portable mouse to go with this laptop.
The U200 also comes with a fingerprint reader. The finger print reader is very useful. With one swipe, I can log onto windows or any web-site requiring a user name and password. There is a "My Safe" folder that can only be accessed with the finger print reader, allowing safe storage of any private data. It was quick and easy to setup and register my fingerprints.
Input and Output Ports
This laptop has three USB 2.0 ports. For me, one more USB port would have been nice. It also has FireWire, 1 PC Card, a 6-in-1 media adaptor, RJ11, RJ45 and RGB. As well, it has a speaker and microphone jack.
Left side view of Toshiba Satellite U200 (view large image)
Right side view of Toshiba Satellite U200 (view large image)
This laptop comes with an Intel Wireless 802.11 a/b/g card. It also has Bluetooth, which is a nice feature because it allows me to use a Bluetooth mouse and free up one of the USB ports.
Overall, I am very impressed with the six-cell battery. Using the Long-life power setting the battery gave me up to 4.5 hours of use. One down side is the charging time of 4-5 hours while off and almost 12 hours while on.
Operating System and Software
The laptop came with a preinstalled Windows XP Home edition. A nice feature was the added system recovery disk with Windows XP Home on it. I know that with Acer or HP/Compaq these disks need to be ordered or burnt after purchasing. One thing to note are the pre-installed Toshiba utilities. Some of these are more useful than others. I particularly like using the Power Saving utility over the Windows power settings. I've also found the HDD protection software to be useful. Not including Toshiba's utilities, this machine did come with some bloatware installed. I found most of these apps to be useless and have since uninstalled them. One application I've kept is the Express Media Player, which allows DVD or CD playback without loading up Windows.
So far I have not had any experience with Toshiba's customer support. From what I have heard, their support is one of the poorest in the industry. It came with a one year parts and labor international warranty. The battery is also warranted for one year.
Overall, I'm very impressed with this laptop. It is great for me to carry around, take on flights or to school everyday. It's a great laptop for business but also has a lot of consumer oriented features. The widescreen is great for viewing worksheets side-by-side or watching movies. The fingerprint reader provides extra security for the business user. I'd recommend this laptop to anyone looking for a notebook that is very durable, light and powerful. It's not too expensive price makes it a good option for the business user or student, looking for portability, durability, and performance, but not gaming.
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