Toshiba Satellite A305D Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (146,196)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Toshiba Satellite A305D is the sometimes overlooked AMD younger brother to the Intel A305 notebook. This model shares practically the same design, just fewer features that help to bring the cost down. At first glance it would be impossible to tell these two notebooks apart, but if you take a close enough look you can probably spot the differences. Read on to see if this lower cost AMD-equipped Toshiba A305D deserves a spot on your desk.

Observant readers will notice that much of this review is similar to our review of the Intel-based A305, and with good reason. The A305D is essentially the same notebook with a few different parts inside. Keep reading and we’ll focus on whether those differences make the A305D better or worse.

Our review unit of the A305D features the following specifications:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, 32-bit)
  • AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core TL-64 (2.2GHz)
  • 15.4" diagonal widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display at 1280×800 (WXGA)
  • ATI Radeon X1250 Integrated Graphics
  • Atheros Wireless 802.11a/g/n
  • 3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 320GB 5400rpm Toshiba Hard Drive
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive with Labelflash
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 14.25" x 10.5" x 1.4" /2.25"
  • Weight: 6 lbs 2.5oz with six-cell battery
  • 75W (19V x 3.95A) 100-240V AC Adapter
  • 6-cell (4000mAh) Lithium Ion battery
  • 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty
  • Price as configured: $999.99

Build and Design

First thing you will notice is every part of this notebook is glossy, from the screen cover, to the palm rest, and even the keyboard keys. Toshiba is really showing off their new durable Fusion finish on every part of the notebook that they can, and in some ways it is a very good thing. Durability is a big thing with notebook finishes, as many glossy finishes will dull and scratch over time. The new Toshiba Fusion finish on this is incredibly durable, and has yet to actually scratch throughout my testing. With multiple trips in my backpack, I can’t find any visible scuffs on the cover, where other notebooks would show fine scratches almost out of the wrapper.


(view large image)

So what does this Fusion finish mean to you? Your keys will not go from matte to glossy over time as they wear down (they are already glossy). Every part of the notebook will get full of smudges and fingerprints, but you can always wipe it down in a couple of minutes to make it look brand new. On other notebooks you get all the smudges, but it would take some hard work with some plastic polish before you ever got it looking new again.


(view large image)

Build quality is excellent in most areas, giving the notebook a very solid feel. Squeaks and creaks are not present, and panel flex is at a minimum. The only areas that stand out as needing some improvement are the wobbly battery, and rough edges around the screen frame where the two plastic pieces meet.

Body Changes

The new Satellite A305D changes quite a bit of its design, while still retaining some resemblance of its older A205 brother. The biggest change is the use of the new durable Fusion finish, which can be found on practically every surface of the notebook, from the top cover to the individual keyboard keys. Unlike the older glossy surface that would scuff with minimal effort, the Fusion finish holds up very well, and I have yet to find any fine scratches or other wear on it.

The keyboard and surrounding area has changed quite a bit form the older A205, including touch sensitive multimedia keys, which are all the rage these days on most notebooks. Another change is the flush touchpad area, which is surprisingly slick with its textured surface. It is almost too easy to slide your finger around on it, and slip off onto the palm rest. The touchpad buttons have also changed quite a bit, going from rectangular slabs to chromed ovals which are easier to trigger, as well as being more comfortable to use.

Display

The screen quality is above average for glossy screens, with an evenly bright backlight and vibrant colors. Backlight bleed is minimal, meaning better game play in dark scenes without areas getting washed out. Viewing angles are adequate, with a wide horizontal range, but shallow vertical range. When tilting the screen back, you will have to find a sweet spot, and going out of that means washed out or inverted colors.


(view large image)

(view large image)

(view large image)

(view large image)

 

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Satellite A305D is made up of high gloss painted keys, which is fairly unique as far as mainstream notebooks go. The look is excellent, and goes very well with the silver striped glossy notebook, and the feel is even better. There is just something about typing on a soft glossy surface that makes long typing very comfortable. Even things like gaming seem to work better, letting you easily slide from one key to the next with minimal drag.

One disappointing aspect of the keyboard is that it is not backlit, as that could be the only possible way to make it even more awesome. Hopefully this keyboard stays the same in the Qosmio, and gets some special backlit treatment.


(view large image)

The touchpad is mounted flush with the palm rest, with the only indication of it being a touchpad at all is a semi-smooth textured overlay. I don’t know what the surface is made out of, but it is oddly slippery. No matter if your fingertip is mildly sweaty or perfectly dry, it doesn’t stick to the surface. For anyone who has used a notebook for hours on end, you know that eventually your fingers start to stick on some touchpad surfaces, this surface somehow prevents that. In use the sensitivity is excellent, with a wide range of adjustment offered through the Synaptics driver control panel.

The touchpad buttons are very nice, reminding me of the chrome bumpers on older cars. They feel soft to the touch without any hard defined edges, and even though they have very shallow feedback, they are probably some of the best touchpad buttons I have used.

Performance

The Toshiba A305D comes loaded with the AMD Turion TL-64 2.2GHz processor, and the ATI 1250 integrated graphics. For most activities this combination handles itself quite well, including office productivity applications or watching movies. Gaming is one area that this close brother to the Intel A305 can’t follow, bringing in 3D benchmarking scores almost 93% lower.

The Intel-based A305 delivered an impressive benchmark score in terms of overall performance thanks to a second hard drive and dedicated graphics. Unfortunately, our configuration of the AMD-based A305D produced "average" benchmark numbers from a single hard drive and integrated graphics.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Toshiba Satellite A305D (Turion X2 TL-64 @ 2.2GHz) 37.220s
Toshiba Satellite A305 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 36.442s
Asus M51S (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz) 46.293s
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.184s
HP Pavilion dv6700t (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.480s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s

 

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Satellite A305D (2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 TL-64, ATI 1250) 271 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite A305 (2.10GHz Intel T8100, ATI Radeon 3650 512MB)
3,810 3DMarks
Asus M51S (1.83GHz Intel T5550, Nvidia 9500M GS 512MB) 3,749 3DMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Intel X3100) 543 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv6700t (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Nvidia 8400M GS 256MB) 1,556 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 545 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 4,332 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 2,905 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite A305D (2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 TL-64, ATI 1250) 3,510 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite A305 (2.10GHz Intel T8100, ATI Radeon 3650 512MB)
5,622 PCMarks
Asus M51S (1.83GHz Intel T5550, Nvidia 9500M GS 512MB) 4,649 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Intel X3100) 3,749 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv6700t (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Nvidia 8400M GS 256MB) 3,386 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 4,149 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 5,412 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 4,616 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,283 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks


HDTune results:


(view large image)

Audio

The Harmon/Kardon speakers included on the A305D were excellent for gaming and watching movies. Unlike many normal notebook speakers, you would actually hear a hint of bass, which was welcome for speakers of this size. Volume levels that would easily annoy those around you could be reached without distortion.

Headphone performance was also very nice, providing clear, static free audio.

Ports and Features

The AMD-based Toshiba A305D has an almost identical port lineup as the Intel A305, minus the HDMI port that came with the dedicated graphics. Even with that port gone, the lineup is still more than adequate for many users.

  • ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54)
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Modem jack
  • 5-in-1 media card reader
  • VGA out, S-Video
  • Microphone input port
  • Headphone output port
  • IEEE-1394 (FireWire)
  • Four USB 2.0 ports (with "Sleep and Charge")

Left: VGA, S-Video, LAN, two USB, Firewire, Expresscard/54


(view large image)

Front: Wireless On/Off, SD-Card Reader, Mic/Headphone, Volume


(view large image)

Right: Two USB, Optical Drive, AC Power, Kensington Lock Slot


(view large image)

Rear: No ports, just the battery and display hinge


(view large image)

Heat and Noise

Thermal performance of the AMD-based Toshiba A305D was better than the Intel A305, almost entirely because of the missing second hard drive and use of integrated graphics. The palmrest temperatures are slightly down after prolonged use, and the bottom of the notebook is also somewhat cooler. Fan noise was minimal and it rarely sped up even under the stress of benchmarks.


(view large image)

(view large image)

 

Battery Life

Our A305D review model came with the standard 6-cell, 4000mAh battery. With the notebook set to the balanced profile, screen brightness set to 50 percent, and wireless connected, we managed 3 hours even.

Conclusion

The AMD-based Toshiba Satellite A305D is built off a good platform that it also shares with the Intel A305, but the small price cut doesn’t make up for the huge loss in performance. For saving roughly $200 you go from a capable gaming machine with dual hard drives and an extended battery, to a budget configuration notebook. If the price was about $300 or $400 dollars less than it is now I would be all over it considering how much I love this design, but the retail price of $1,000 is asking way too much.

Pros

  • Above average LCD
  • Slick keyboard (literally)
  • Touch sensitive media keys
  • Flush mount touchpad with great surface texture
  • Great Harmon/Kardon Speakers

Cons

  • Warm touchpad
  • Reflective surface can blind others with its awesomeness
  • Low performance for the price


LEAVE A COMMENT

0 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.