- Good HD video and light gaming performance
- Low cost
- Good keyboard and touchpad
- Horribly slow hard drive
- Thick with cheap plastics
- Low-quality screen
An affordable laptop for school, but be prepared to upgrade the hard drive if you want decent performance.
The Toshiba Satellite L745D-S4220 is a simplified and affordable 14-inch laptop designed for limited back-to-school budgets. Packed with a battery-friendly AMD dual-core processor and graphics, Toshiba promises this laptop will make the grade. We took a closer look to see if this $500 notebook can deliver more than its price tag suggests.
Toshiba Satellite L745D (L745D-S4220) Specifications:
- 14.0-inch 720p (1366×768) display with LED backlighting
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
- AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU at 1.6 GHz and dual DX-11 SIMDs at 500 MHz)
- 4GB DDR3 RAM (1066MHz)
- 500GB 5400RPM hard drive (Seagate Momentus)
- 802.11b/g/n wireless
- DVD SuperMulti (+/- Double Layer)
- Warranty: 1-Yr Standard Limited Warranty (1-Yr on Battery)
- 6-cell Li-ion battery (48Wh) and 45W power adapter
- Weight: 5.09 lbs
- Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.1 x 1.3-1.5 inches
- MSRP: $499.99
Build and Design
At first glance the new Satellite L740/L745 series looks virtually the same as the rest of the budget-priced Satellite notebooks from the last year. The rounded clamshell chassis wrapped in a mixture of glossy and matte plastic is a mixture of metallic brown and black. What makes the L740/L745 series “unique” from a design perspective is that this same chassis is used for multiple Satellite notebooks with a wide range of internal configurations.
In short, this 14-inch plastic shell was designed to fit the needs of everything from $500 laptops to custom configurations priced at more than $900. What’s that old saying about a “Jack of all trades?”
The screen lid and the top panel that surrounds the keyboard are both made of thin glossy plastics with a brown “dot matrix” pattern. I’m sure the glossy plastics look good on display in stores but the all-gloss surface is prone of picking up smudges from fingerprints as well as any other specks of dirt that come into contact with the laptop.
The all-plastic construction of the L745D means you end up with both a main chassis and screen lid that flex under pressure and “squeak” softly when you squeeze it next to the areas with thinner plastics. The only parts of this laptop that feel particularly durable are the screen hinges on this model which are reasonably tight and hold the screen in position when you move the laptop from one location to another. I’m sure this laptop will survive just fine as a desktop replacement, but I have doubts that the thin plastics used in the L745D will survive daily use and abuse by a high school student if he or she carries it in a backpack with books every day.
The bottom of the notebook is rather basic but it’s quite friendly in terms of upgrades. There are two access panels beneath the laptop that give you access to the hard drive, RAM, and wireless card. Most people buying a $500 laptop are unlikely to install any hardware upgrades, but you might be surprised how much snappier this budget notebook becomes with a faster hard drive (more on that later in the performance section).
Ports and Features
The new Satellite L745D features an adequate selection of ports. You get three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet and a memory card slot in addition to the DVD drive. There is no ExpressCard slot for adding new ports and Toshiba neglected to include either USB 3.0 or eSATA … probably to keep the MSRP at or below $500.
Front view: Memory card slot
Rear view: No ports
Left side: Lock slot, black spot for optional modem, Ethernet, HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks
Right side: DVD drive, USB 2.0, VGA, and power jack