The Satellite E205 is the latest "Blue Label" Toshiba notebook exclusively made for Best Buy. Packing a 14-inch WXGA screen, an Intel Core i5 processor, and the latest Intel GMA HD graphics, this notebook has one feature no other model currently offers, Intel Wireless Display. Intel Wi-Di lets notebooks stream HD-quality video to a compatible receiver plugged into your HDTV, letting you share videos without any need for cables. In this review we take an in-depth look at the Toshiba Satellite E205 and see if its Intel Wireless Display is going to change the way we use notebooks in our home theaters.
Toshiba Satellite E205 Specifications:
The Toshiba Satellite E205 is probably the first 14" consumer notebook that manages to keep a curvy, modern design while still maintaining a thin look and feel. Every edge on the E205 is rounded, including the CPU-exhaust vent which I think is pretty cool. The only part that seems to rub me in the wrong way is the battery hump which is exaggerated in size since it also includes the screen hinges and rear ports. The color scheme looks great with a blue diamond- pattern on the screen cover which changes to a black diamond-pattern on the inside with metallic-blue trim. Even the touchpad gets special treatment with its flush-mount design that shares the same pattern as the palmrest and is outlined with a matte finish.
Screen and Speakers
The Toshiba Satellite E205 is built around a 14-inch screen - instead of a 13.3"-since Best Buy's research has shown that most of their customers still prefer this size. It offers a 1366x768 WXGA resolution which is capable of displaying 720P HD video. The screen rates average compared to similar screens, with some mild backlight bleed visible on all-black screens and limited viewing angles. For watching movies, viewing pictures, or browsing the web we found color saturation and contrast to be more than adequate thanks to the glossy surface. At peak brightness we had no trouble viewing the screen in a brightly-lit office. Vertical viewing angles were average with colors starting to distort at 15 to 20 degrees tilted back.
Horizontal viewing angles were good to about 60-degrees before reflections overpowered the glossy display.
One of the most interesting features of the Toshiba Satellite E205 is the Intel Wireless Display or Wi-Di. This technology allows users to stream HD content to a receiver connected to your HDTV. The receiver-made by Netgear-connects to the TV with an HDMI connection and streams video as well as audio from your notebook. What sets this technology apart from any other we have used to date is the fact that it doesn't have any decrease in performance depending on the source being viewed. USB 2.0 and Wireless USB docking stations that support DVI-out are all limited to 2D from limited bandwidth. The Intel Wireless Display on the other hand streamed full 3D-accelerated video, including games and video without any degradation of quality. Another huge benefit of the Wi-Di interface compared to Wireless USB is its reception range. We walked around our office without once breaking the connection. It was only after we walked outside and closed the metal door that the signal strength dropped enough to kill the connection. For an average sized home you should have no problem using the Intel Wireless Display technology unless you try to use it from inside the trunk of your car inside your garage.
The Intel Wi-Di technology does have a few limitations at this time. Wi-Di currently only supports streaming 1280x720 video and has restrictions on how the wireless display is setup. You are basically limited to a cloned display only, which is probably a good thing with the amount of lag the interface has. In testing we found that video and audio displayed through the Wi-Di connection were running about one or two seconds behind what was being displayed locally on the notebook. This doesn't mean the video or audio was out of sync, just that the Wi-Di receiver uses a large buffer. For watching HD video from the computer or streaming PowerPoint presentations this won't be a problem ... but forget about using it for gaming. Even trying to accomplish basic tasks such as surfing the web over the Wi-Di connection was intolerable unless you were viewing the notebook screen.
The speakers on the E205 are of the lap-firing variety that are generally ok if you only plan on listening to streaming audio or video but leave a lot to be desired if you want to enjoy a movie. Since they are downward firing another problem is they sound muffled if the notebook is sitting directly on your lap or a very soft surface. For enjoying music and video while on the road, headphones are really the preferred alternative. If you plan on watching a movie in your home the Intel Wi-Di interface or connecting directly through HDMI would be the best bet.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Satellite E205 is spacious and very comfortable to type on. The typing throw is shorter than the average notebook keyboard... instead feeling like a Chiclet keyboard without the island-key layout. The shorter throw made typing seem easier and seemed to speed up my normal typing speed. While the layout of the keyboard itself was fine, I found the proximity of the touch-sensitive buttons to be a problem. My pinky would continuously hit one of the buttons and trigger one of the related functions. Depending on the size of your hands you may not have this problem. One handy feature of the keyboard on the E205 is that it is fully backlit allowing you to type without any additional room lighting.
The E205 includes a spacious multitouch-enabled Synaptics touchpad. We found the touchpad to be a breeze to use in our testing with a responsive surface with no discernible lag. The lightly-texture matte surface was easy to slide your finger across when damp and had no hard boundaries around the touchpad zone. The only complaint I could come up with was regarding the stiff touchpad buttons which were hard to press with the edge of your thumb. Even though the buttons are wrapped around the leading edge of the palmrest, to activate a button from the front requires a ludicrous amount of force.
Ports and Features
Port selection was average with two USB ports, one USB/eSATA combo port, VGA-out, HDMI-out, audio jacks, and LAN. The E205 also offered a slot-loading optical drive and flush-mount SDHC-card reader. The biggest feature by far though is the Intel Wireless Display.
Rear: Kensington Lock slot, AC-power, LAN, and VGA-out
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