Keyboard and Touchpad
The designers at Toshiba have become extremely consistent with the keyboards on the Satellite notebooks. The E305 comes with a full-size keyboard with Chiclet-style keys that are responsive and provide a little extra spacing to prevent typos. The keys are large and flat and have a glossy texture that shows smudges from your skin oils over time. Unfortunately, this backlit keyboard suffers from noticeable flex when you apply heavy typing pressure. As long as you are a gentle typist the keyboard flex isn’t an issue, but if you press firmly you will notice the keys bouncing beneath your fingers.
The Synaptics touchpad is fairly nice with a matte texture that provides smooth cursor movement. The touchpad driver delivers excellent accuracy and minimal lag with a range of options. The only problem comes when trying to use the right touchpad button. The “tap to click” function works fine on this touchpad when you need to press the left mouse button, but making a “right click” is very difficult since the touchpad is a “buttonless” style with integrated buttons located under the bottom front edge of the touchpad surface. The only time the right click worked properly was when we pressed the extreme right edge of the touchpad in the bottom right corner. This means that you may frequently make a left click when you try to make a right click. We really don’t like to see little problems like this on a $900 laptop.
Screen and Speakers
The E305 has a 14.0-inch diagonal display with LED backlighting and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The overall quality of the display is “good” within the narrow vertical viewing angle sweet spot. The backlight is even and bright (208 nits according to our light meter), contrast is reasonably sharp (278:1) and colors are good though the colors are a little pastel at the default settings. If there is a single obvious issue it has to be the narrow vertical viewing angles like most standard TN panels. While the horizontal viewing angles (side view) are reasonably good, the colors become over exposed when viewed from above and significantly inverted and distorted when viewed from below. If you are using this laptop for color-accurate editing you will need to be certain you’re viewing the screen from straight ahead.
The display’s 1366×768 resolution is a standard resolution for mainstream notebooks. The horizontal resolution is adequate, however only 768 pixels of vertical space means a good deal of scrolling while surfing the Internet and only enough space to view about one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word. This is pretty standard for a modern 14-inch laptop, but since the E305 comes with a Blu-ray drive, it’s important to point out you can’t watch true 1080p video on this laptop’s built-in screen.
The Satellite E305 features non-branded stereo speakers located on the bottom front edge of the notebook. This location is fine if you’re using the notebook as a “desktop replacement” because the sound bounces off the desk and up toward the user. Unfortunately, if you’re using the E305 as a “laptop” computer then the speakers sound muffled against your legs. The headphone jack and a good set of earphones work much better for listening to music or movies when you’re on the road.