Toshiba Satellite L355D Review

by Reads (111,974)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Toshiba Satellite L350 series notebook is a new addition to the 17" desktop replacement lineup from Toshiba. For a starting price of $749, Toshiba gives customers a TruBrite screen, webcam, integrated ATI Radeon graphics, a dual core AMD processor, and a DVD SuperMulti drive. This notebook is aimed at consumers who want a bit more notebook out of a budget price range, and seems to hit the mark perfectly. Read on to see how well the Toshiba L350 holds up in our testing, and if it is a notebook worth checking out.

This review will cover the AMD version of this notebook, which is the base configuration at the price of $749.

Satellite L355D-S809 specifications:

  • Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, 32-bit version)
  • AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology TL-60 (2.0 GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, HyperTransport Technology @ up to 800MHz)
  • 2GB PC5300 DDR2 SDRAM memory (Maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 200GB (4200 RPM) Serial ATA hard disk drive
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) with Labelflash drive supporting 11 formats
  • 17.1" diagonal widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display with 1440×900 native resolution (WXGA+)
  • ATI Radeon X1250 128MB-831MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Atheros 802.11 b/g wireless-LAN
  • 3 USB Sleep-and-Charge ports, 5 in 1 SD-Card Reader, 10/100 LAN, 56k Modem
  • Built-in Webcam and microphone
  • 4000mAh 10.8v battery and 75w AC Adapter
  • Weight: 7lbs 0.6oz
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 11.4 x 1.8"
  • One-year standard Limited Warranty


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Build and Design

The Toshiba L355D has a design that we are very familiar with, that has changed very little from the older P200 series notebook. The notebook body slimmed down across the board, but without comparing pictures between each model it would be hard to tell the difference. The peak height at the feet remained very similar, but the notebook profile is thinner in the front and back. The biggest change is the hinge design, which went from a "hidden" design to a double hinge setup. The rest of the notebook looks fairly untouched, with the same multimedia controls, stepped sloping palmrest, and near identical look when closed. The final visual change that many will notice is the lack of glossy finish on the display cover, which was replaced with a silver metallic matte finish. Users who complained of easy scratching and smudged fingerprints can now rejoice.


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Build quality has remained the same, with a solid feel and only a slight amount of flex in the palm rest and screen cover. The body as a whole feels quite durable, with few squeaks or rattles when picked up and carried around. The keyboard has very good support, with little flex apparent when you press firmly on the keys. The display cover keeps away most ripples from the LCD, but with a firm jab to the back of the cover some circular distortions do show up. The newer matte paint finish seems to hold up much better, with the biggest difference being no fine scratches after a trip in my backpack.


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Display

The display on the Toshiba L350 series notebooks is of average quality, with even backlight and minimal light bleed. Colors are vibrant when viewing head on, but wash out or invert at steep angles. Horizontal viewing angles go about 45 degrees before the colors start dim or wash out. Vertical viewing angles are not so lucky, inverting quickly after about 20 degrees of movement.


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My comfortable viewing range on this screen was at 60% brightness in a bright room, and a few notches lower in a dark room.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is excellent, with tight keys that require little pressure to trigger. Key wobble is minimal, making it easy to type very fast with few errors as you are not hitting the sides of other keys. Key throw is perfect, not too long and not too short.


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Being a 17" notebook, key spacing and size is not a problem in the slightest. The keyboard found on the L350 is fullsize, including the number pad on the side. A few users will also enjoy the correct placement of the Ctrl key on the far left of the keyboard, instead of the Function key which sometimes gets placed there.

Toshiba was also nice enough to include several dedicated media buttons located just above the keyboard. None of the media buttons have an annoying LED backlight and all of them are easy to use.


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The touchpad is surface is excellent, with just the right amount of space for easy movement, as well as near perfect finger sensitivity. The texture is a soft matte finish, that is very easy to glide your finger across. The touchpad buttons are of decent size, but I would have preferred better feedback when clicking the buttons. As it is, the buttons have a shallow click when pressed.


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Performance and Benchmarks

For day to day use, the notebook performs quite well with great startup and shutdown speed. Opening software such as Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, or iTunes loads in no time. Much of this can be attributed to the Dual Core AMD Turion X2 TL-60 processor and 2GB of RAM, which this notebook offers as standard equipment. Compared to older generations where you might have been stuck with 512MB or even 1GB of RAM, this gives you a pretty substantial bump in performance. If you’re willing to spend an extra $50 you can also configure a version of this notebook with an entry-level Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Notebook performance is great for a budget machine, but don’t expect to play any modern games on this machine. Games that are two-three generations old should still be playable, as long as you tone down the eye-candy settings. Since most users looking at this notebook arent expecting gaming performance from this notebook, this should not be a problem.

WPrime 32M comparison results

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better. Lower numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook Time
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, Windows Vista) 39.732s
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, Windows Vista) 30.359s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista) 31.108s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Windows Vista) 42.085s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7400@ 2.16GHz, Windows XP) 41.40s
HP dv6000z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.00GHz, Windows Vista) 38.913s
Sager 9260 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6700@ 2.66GHz, Windows XP ) 33.718s
Dell Precision M70 (Intel Pentium-M 780 @ 2.26GHz, Windows XP) 78.992s

PCMark05 comparison results:

PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 3,305 PCMarks
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS) 7,749 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,865 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,261 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 5,377 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 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
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results:

3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 301 3DMarks
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS) 8,801 3DMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 3,775 3DMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 2,934 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 2,930 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 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 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 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
Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 794 3DMarks

 

Hard drive performance was more than adequate, even though it was a 4200rpm drive. The access times and transfer speeds were more in line with a higher performance 5400rpm drive.

HDTune results:


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I am also really disappointed that this 17" notebook did not offer an additional drive bay, to further expand on storage space or increase performance with a RAID setup.

Ports and Features

Port selection on the L350 felt lacking, with fewer options compared to the older P200. It now has half the USB ports, no S-video out, no Firewire, and lots of blank open plastic that could have been used for additional ports. As previously mentioned, another missing feature of this notebook is the 2nd HD bay, which is fairly uncommon for a 17" notebook.

With some 13.3" notebooks having a much more expansive port selection than this 17" notebook, it makes you think what items might have been cut in order to lower the overall cost of the computer. Three USB ports on a 17" notebook is my biggest complaint though, when many similarly sized notebooks have four or six.

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


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Rear: Modem


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Left: VGA, LAN, two USB, Expresscard/54


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Right: One USB, Optical bay, AC plug, Kensington lock slot


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Speakers

The speakers on the L350 are average, able to reach high volume levels without much distortion, but you have no bass content. High and midrange audio was good, and users will have no worries about using the internal speakers to listen to music or watch a movie. As always, I still prefer using headphones in most situations for privacy and not to annoy others in crowded areas. The headphone jack was great, giving clear audio without any hissing background noise.


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Heat and Noise

Noise performance on the L350 is great, with the fan barely noticeable at low speed, and still whisper quiet under load. Temperature levels are also low overall, but it did have a few odd hot spots. After the notebook has been on for a couple of hours, the touchpad managed to reach 98F, with the rest of the top surface being much cooler.


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Battery

Battery performance was very good for a 17" notebook with only a 4000mAh battery. With wireless enabled, screen at 70% backlight, and notebook set to the "Balanced" power profile, it managed 2 hours and 47 minutes before it shut off. Here’s hoping that an extended battery option comes out for the mobile warriors.


Conclusion

The Toshiba L350 series notebook offers consumers an excellent budget desktop replacement notebook with a great deal of features for a low starting price of $749. As a mild refresh from the previous P200 series notebook the L350 gives you a slimmer and lighter body, as well as a smudge and scuff resistant matte paint finish.

Pros

  • Very quiet with great thermal management
  • Nice keyboard with excellent support
  • New matte paint finish doesn’t scratch as easily as older gloss finish
  • No fingerprints visible anywhere on the finish when my review was completed

Cons

  • Only three USB ports and no firewire


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