Toshiba Satellite E105 Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (60,177)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Toshiba Satellite E105 is a new 14.1” notebook with a aluminum body sold exclusively through Best Buy. The design moves away from the current rounded styling of the new Toshiba models to a thinner design with squared off edges. With a starting price of $899 this model comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor, Intel integrated graphics, FM tuner, and backlit keyboard. Read our review to find out how it compares to other Toshiba models and if you should consider it for your next notebook.

Toshiba Satellite E105-S1402 specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor P8400 2.26GHz (3MB L2 cache, 1066 FSB)
  • Intel 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
  • Windows Home Premium 64-bit w/ SP1
  • 4GB DDR2 800MHz
  • 14.1″ WXGA Glossy Display (1280×800)
  • Hard drive: 320GB 5400rpm SATA 2.5″
  • 8X DVD/RW Double layer Super Multi Drive
  • Intel 5100 Link 802.11a/g/n, FM Tuner, Bluetooth
  • Battery: 14.4V 75Wh (85Wh as tested)
  • 2-Year Warranty including AC adapter and battery
  • Dimensions: 13.75” x 9.75” x 1.31”
  • Weight: 5lbs 0.9oz
  • Price: $1,099 (Currently sold at BestBuy for $899)

Build and Design
The design of the Toshiba E105 is like the previous generation MacBook Pro, with its squared edge aluminum frame, display bezel shape, and keyboard size. The big difference of course is the lack of Apple logo and the matte finish replaced with the Fusion finish. Overall I really like the look of this model compared to current Toshiba notebooks, since it doesn’t go overboard with every edge needing to be sloped and rounded. The striped color layout is a nice change, moving away from the solid Fusion design across the entire notebook that they use on other Satellite models.

Build quality is well under what I had hoped to see on a new Satellite design and really unexpected with its aluminum body that usually goes hand in hand with higher quality standards. The aluminum shell looks warped along the edges with some areas sticking out along the edges of the palmrest and keyboard trim. Some mating surfaces have gaps that look like they are ready to pull up, such as the area under the touchpad. Toshiba really took things a step down from the previous Satellite models which were praised for their excellent fit and finish.

Display
The 14.1” glossy panel on our E105 was bright and crisp, perfect for watching movies or viewing pictures. Color and contrast were excellent, which is the case for many glossy panels, which helped make bright colors pop and while still showing intricate dark detail. The backlight levels were bright enough for viewing the screen in a bright office environment. Outside viewing on a sunny day might be difficult with the glossy surface, but doable if you found the right viewing angle or a spot of shade.

I really think Toshiba should have at least included a WXGA+ panel, considering the price point and lack of dedicated graphics. The WXGA panel is fine for viewing your average “HD” movie since the panel can show a full 720P image, but for day to day activities the resolution is limiting if you want to show more on the same screen while multitasking.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The E105 sports a fully backlit keyboard with touch sensitive multimedia keys located on the right side for quick access. The keyboard is comfortable to type on for extended periods of time, with soft touch keys that give off a slight click when pressed. Unlike the A305 or U405, the E105 has a matte paint texture on the keys, giving them more traction than the glossy surface found on the other models. Another added benefit is the lack of greasy fingerprints that start to appear after a few hours of typing.

The location of the touch sensitive multimedia keys could be better, like above the keyboard instead of to the side. To fit the buttons on the right side Toshiba had to reduce or move some of the keys on the right side of the keyboard. The right shift key and page navigation keys all had to be modified to make room.

The large Synaptics touchpad was delightful to use, with great sensitivity and a texture that was easy to glide your fingertip across. It had no discernable lag under fast movement and worked very well under a light touch. The touchpad buttons were clicker style, having very shallow feedback with an audible “click” when pressed.

Performance
System performance was great in nearly every category except gaming. The Intel 4500MHD integrated graphics paired with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor handled HD movie decoding with ease and had no trouble handling day to day tasks such as typing documents or browsing the web. Gaming was limited to past generation games, or heavily tweaked games that wouldn’t task the system that much. System boot and shutdown times were quick once some of the preinstalled bloatware was removed. Toshiba really loaded the E105 down with various utilities, including Best Buy GeekSquad support software.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Toshiba Satellite E105 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)
33.961 seconds
Dell Latitude E6400 (Intel Core 2 Duo P9500 @ 2.53GHz) 30.497 seconds
Toshiba Satellite U405 (Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 37.500 seconds
Lenovo ThinkPad T400 (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz) 27.410 seconds
HP Pavilion dv4t (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz) 26.972 seconds
Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz) 34.628 seconds

 

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

Toshiba Satellite E105 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Intel 4500MHD) 4,836 PCMarks
Dell Latitude E6400 (2.53GHz Intel P9500, Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M 256MB) 5,780 PCMarks
Toshiba U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 3,052 PCMarks
Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3) 6,589 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, NVIDIA 9200M GS 256MB) 5,463 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9300M GS 256MB) 5,173 PCMarks

 

3DMark06 measures video and gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Toshiba Satellite E105 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Intel 4500MHD) 1,030 3DMarks
Dell Latitude E6400 (2.53GHz Intel P9500, Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M 256MB) 1,818 3DMarks
Toshiba U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 539 3DMarks
Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3) 2,575 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, NVIDIA 9200M GS 256MB) 1,741 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9300M GS 256MB) 2,211 3DMarks

*All 3DMark06 benchmark tests are set at 1280 x 800 screen resolution.

HDTune storage drive performance results:

 

Ports and Features
The port and slot assortment was sparse with the missing VGA port and ExpressCard slot. Toshiba went the way of Apple and reduced the amount of ports for a cleaner look. The E105 offers two USB ports, one USB/eSATA combo port, LAN, HDMI, audio jacks, 5-in 1 card reader, and FM antenna port. The cleaner look is nice, but some users would have really enjoyed the added ports considering how much space is left open on the sides of the E105.

Speakers and Audio
The speakers on the E105 sound fairly anemic, lacking bass and midrange. They are positioned in a forward firing position out the front edge of the palmrest. The location keeps crumbs or dust out of them that might otherwise be dropped in if they were on located above the keyboard, but it means they can be blocked by clothing when you have it on your lap. Peak volume levels were under most 14″ and 15” notebooks, but should be adequate for a small room. If you want to go the headphone route you will find much better audio quality.

The FM Tuner is a handy feature if you enjoy listening to local radio stations, but these days with almost every station offering an online stream, it is really unneeded. A TV tuner might have been more useful. Reception was fine in our office with no noticeable interference or static. To use the FM tuner you need to plug in the included external whip antenna, which just looks really weird sticking out the side of a notebook these days.

Battery
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the battery Toshiba included with the E105. Fitting flush inside the bottom they managed to squeeze a 75Wh battery (around the size of most 9-cell units) to give excellent battery life. I do want to note that the battery in our review model showed an actual capacity of 85Wh, roughly 13% higher capacity than advertised. In our testing with the screen brightness set to 70%, Vista set to the Balanced power profile, and wireless active the system stayed on for 4 hours and 32 minutes. In power saver mode with the screen brightness further reduced the system was on track for an estimated 6 hours and 30 minutes. We were hoping for longer times, considering notebooks like the Lenovo T400 managed to have much lower power consumption rates, getting upwards of 10 hours of battery life with the same capacity battery.

Heat and Noise
The Toshiba E105 managed its heat during normal use quite well staying just above room temperature with mild fan activity. Under heavier loads the notebook warmed up quite a bit which could be felt through the bottom of the case. This is an issue related to using a metal exterior shell, as it transmits heat very well compared to plastic which can insulate up to a point. Fan noise was minimal during basic activity, only spiking during heavier loads. At the fan’s highest speed it could be heard in a small room, but would blend in with more background noise.

Conclusion
The Toshiba Satellite E105 commands the price of a high-end “almost business” notebook, but doesn’t offer the level of performance or build quality you would find from a machine in that category. The aluminum chassis sounds great on paper but it suffered from fit and finish problems that you wouldn’t find for example in an Apple MacBook. Features like the built-in FM tuner could have been better integrated, instead of using the plug-in boom antenna that sticks out of the side of the notebook. If the price was lower and the build quality improved it would be a nice alternative from other Toshiba Satellite notebooks, but in its current form it is hard to recommend against other notebooks in the Toshiba lineup.

Pros:

  • Thin and sleek design
  • Solid performance
  • Built-in FM tuner
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Large flush-mount battery

Cons:

  • Questionable build quality
  • High starting price given the configuration




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