Toshiba Satellite M100 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (51,514)

by Charlies Hsu, Canada

With yet another scholastic year approaching in less than 1-2 months, many college students will be looking for the next laptop to purchase for school work. Toshiba has always been a mainstream favorite among the brands to consider. Here I am reviewing the next generation of Satellite laptops, the Satellite M100, which is equipped with the latest Intel Centrino Core Duo processor. I will be comparing many aspects with the ASUS W3V, which I purchased for myself just 6 months prior.



Toshiba Satellite M100 (view large image)

Specification for Toshiba Satellite M100 reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Centrino Duo Mobile Technology T2300 (667Mhz FSB, L1 Cache 32KB/32KB, L2 Cache 2MB)
  • OS: Genuine Windows XP Home SP2
  • TOSHIBA Express Media Player for quick access to CD, DVD Playback
  • Memory: 1GB PC2-4200 DDR2 (512MB x 2)
  • Hard Drive: 100 GB, Serial-ATA, 5400rpm
  • Optical Drive: Built-in DVD Super-Multi Double Layer +-R Drive functions:
  • Display: 14.1″ Wide XGA TFT with TruBrite (1280x800x16.7 million colours)
  • Video: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 945GM Express Chiset with 128MB DDR shared video memory
  • Sound: Harman Kardon Stereo speakers, Realtek ALC861 Software Sound 16-bit stereo; Built-in
  • Network: V.92 56K Data/Fax Modem, 10/100 integrated Ethernet LAN, Intel Golan Wireless LAN (802.11ag)
  • Expansion: 1PC Card slot supports one Type II PC Cards; supports CardBus.
  • Ports: 5-in-1 Multimedia port (SD, Memory Stick , Memory Stick Pro, MMC, xD-Picture Card ), 4 USB 2.0, RJ11, RJ45, IEEE1394, external microphone port, headphone port, RGB.
  • Dimension: 343 x 232 x 38 mm, 2.46kg (5.41lbs)
  • Battery: 6 cell Lithium Ion (Li-ion) 10.8V x 4000mAh capacity

Reason for buying:

This laptop is purchased for and by a coworker of mine who is using it to work on her thesis, which entails a wide range of office related tasks including word processing, spreadsheet data entry, photo editing, multimedia playback, presentation, and e-mail/internet browsing.

Where and How Purchased:

The laptop was purchased through the University bookstore. There is no educational discount despite dealing with a university affiliated entity. The price is in fact comparable to retailers such as Futureshop or BestBuy in Canada. The package comes with, in addition to the laptop, battery, AC power adaptor, accessory softwares and drivers .

A dedicated GPU option was not available to the Canadian market. But with the Canadian dollar being so strong these days, you might get a better deal down in the states with greater range of options.

Build and Design:

The design side of things is really dependent on personal taste. I for one am not a fan of Toshiba. Unlike HP/Compaq who has really improved the build quality of their laptop line-ups over the years in addition to making them more modern and fashionable, laptops from Toshiba and IBM still look like they are from the 90’s. Regardless, some people do find their laptops attractive. You can look at the pictures and gauge it yourself.


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For a laptop of its class and price range, the build quality of the M100 is mediocre at best. The overall feel can be summarized as flimsy; the plastic feels hollow and porous. The base area is particular thin as they bend and warp significantly upon gripping to lift. Paint finish on the inside and on the keyboard is typical for an entry level laptop and is comparable to brands like Acer and Gateway. The laptop itself is fairly lightweight. However, this advantage is somewhat hindered by the bulky dimension; the M100 is 43 mm longer and 8mm thicker than the ASUS W3V.


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Screen


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The screen has to be the most disappointing component on this laptop. To start with, the “TrueBrite” technology is inadequate given the lack of uniform brightness across the panel. The viewing angle is very poor; there’s a gradient of brightness not only from the top to bottom but from side to side as well. It’s almost as if there’s a halo of dimness around the corners of the screen. At first I didn’t notice it too much, but only after I started working with my ASUS W3V in parallel did I notice the difference. Second, the reflection off the screen makes images hard to see in rooms where there are spot lights or non-uniform illumination. If you are planning to take this laptop to work on the patio or nearby a window seat on a sunny day, good luck dodging left to right to see what’s behind the panel. Thirdly, the screen appears to have an inherent grain texture all over. This may be a result of the glossy coat finish on the screen surface, similar to the clear coat finish on newly painted automobile. This “effect” is particularly visible when I am browsing or typing documents on a light colored background. . Finally, there’s a slight light leakage at the bottom (see pic) when viewing images on dark background.


Slight light leakage at the bottom (view large image)

Aside from the problems noted above, the texts and graphics are sharp and well resolved; color fidelity is excellent. Contrast ratio could use some improvements however.

Processor and Performance:

The main selling point of the M100 will sit entirely on the processor and memory. With 1024mb of RAM, Centrino Core Duo and 5400rpm SATA HD, this thing should be competently ready for Windows Vista. Installation of Adobe Photoshop only took 2/3 of the time compare to my Asus W3V. The optical drive is fast, both at initializing and transmitting data.

Benchmarks:

Super Pi calculated to 2 million:

I ran the calculation under normal operation. That is, all the application and utility that startup after boot is kept running. Even with a significantly lower clock speed, the Core Duo is faster than a 2.0GHz Centrino.

Notebook

Time

Toshiba Satellite M100 (1.66Ghz Core Duo)

1m 29s

Asus W3H760DD (2.0 GHz Pentium M)

1m 33s

Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)

1m 16s

Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)

1m 18s

Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo)

1m 18s

Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)

1m 29s

Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)

1m 41s

Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)

1m 53s

IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)

1m 45s


PCMark05 Test Result:

 

Toshiba Satellite M100 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)

Asus W3V (2.0 GHz Pentium M)

HDD — XP Startup

5.39 MB/s

5.1 MB/s

Physics and 3D

69.19 FPS

130.16 FPS

Transparent Windows

196.96 Windows/s

243.62 Windows/s

3D — Pixel Shader

12.93 FPS

Test Failed

Web Page Rendering

2.49 Pages/S

2.85 Pages/S

File Decryption

41.59 MB/s

49.23 MB/s

Graphics Memory – 64 Lines

501.4 FPS

741.18 FPS

HDD — General Usage

3.68 MB/s

3.5 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 1/ Audio Compression

N/A

N/A

Multithreaded Test 1/ Video Encoding

Test Failed

Test Failed

Multithreaded Test 2/ Text Edit

88.92 Pages/S

53.55 Pages/s

Multithreaded Test 2/ Image Decompression

19.86 MPixels/s

11.53 MPixels/s

Multithreaded Test 3/ File Compression

3.82 MB/s

2.29 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3 File Encryption

20.13 MB/s

12.25 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3/ HDD — Virus Scan

31.93 MB/s

13.7 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3/ Memory Latency — Random

7.32 MAccesses/s

8.01 MAccesses/s

 

 

 

3DMark05

 

 

3D Mark Score

545 3DMarks

1263 3DMarks

CPU Score

3629 CPUMarks

3668 CPUMarks

Graphics Chipset

Intel i945GM

ATI Mobility Radeon X600

Video Memory

128 MB

64 MB

Resolution

1024×768 @32bit

1024×768@32bit

Game Tests

GT1 — Return to Proxycon

2.5 fps

5.5 fps

GT2 — Firefly Forest

1.5 fps

4.0 fps

GT3 — Canyon Flight

2.8 fps

5.8 fps

 

 

 

CPU Tests

 

 

CPU Test 1

2.0 fps

1.9 fps

CPU Test 2

2.9 fps

3.2 fps

 

 

 

 

Notebook Comparison

3DMark05 Score

Toshiba Satellite M100 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA945)

545

ASUS W3V (2.0 GHz Pentium M, ATI X600

1263

Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)

1659

ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)

727

Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)

2530

HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)

2536

Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)

1660

HDTune Test Result:


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Heat and Noise:

I have kind of taken heat and noise for granted after my Asus W3V. So after using the M100 for a weekend, I find it surprisingly cool and quiet. The fan is rarely on during standard operation, and is only noticeable when programs are starting up or when large files are being accessed. Over a period of 2-3 hours however, the laptop does get a bit warm, and unfortunately, the heat is coming from directly underneath where your palm sits when you type. Those warm summer days might have you sweat off that quality silver paint finish on the interior.

Speakers:

The Harman Kardon speaker is another impressive feature of this laptop. The sound is crisp and clear and has a very distinct 3D sound projection. The bass is understandably lacking given it is laptop speakers after all. Overall the speakers perform well above average. It’s definitely worth the investment.

Keyboard and Touchpad:


Satellite M100 keyboard (view large image)

The keyboard on the M100 has been shifted down and away from the hinge to make room for the media play button, making less room for your palm to rest. On top of that, the peculiar curve around the edges means your palms are constantly slipping off. This may take some time to get used to, but I have not seen any laptop with this little palm rest area.


Satellite M100 touchpad (view large image)

The touchpad has a smooth surface and a nice texture to prevent over gliding but it’s also one of the smallest I’ve seen. I find myself constantly lifting my fingers up in order to gain more gliding distance. The thing I find most annoying with the touchpad is Toshiba’s “Touch and Launch” software; it’s a little utility that installs shortcut into the touchpad by enabling hot spots into the four corners of the device to allow easy access to more useless stuff Toshiba has in store for you. This creates many problems. For one, if you are not minding where you are starting to glide on the surface, you will inadvertently bring up the short cut menu of death that may or may not crash your computer. Or if you happen to hesitate too long on the top right corner, instead of scrolling up and down, you are forced to switch windows. I don’t know what the point of this exercise is, but it’s annoying the hell out of me for sure. But once the utility has been uninstalled, the touchpad works without a glitch.

Input and Output:


Right side view of M100 (view large image)

As already outlined in the beginning of this article, the input and output are pretty standard. The 5-1 media card reader is a nice feature to have to allow you to upload pictures directly from your digital camera. I like the analog rotary dial for volume control on the speakers. Most vendors have switched to software based volume control panel, which is slow to respond if you have a system under load.


Left side view of M100 (view large image)

Wireless:

No Bluetooth unfortunately. For most buyers of this laptop, this may not be a critical option but nevertheless, one less feature to take into account when going through your shopping list.

Battery:

I have not had a chance to run the battery down. Like most other competitors, Toshiba has a power management utility that allows you to adjust the power consumption accordingly. At battery saving mode, the screen brightness is turned all the way down with the processor operating at half of maximal speed. Toshiba claims 3-4 hours on the 6-cell battery, which is consistent with industry standard in its class, but I have yet to confirm this.

Operating System and Software:

The first thing I did when I got my ASUS W3V is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP fresh. I am really put off by the countless number of useless gadgetware that these companies try to throw at you in order to make themselves unique, just like everyone else. Some 30 odd number of utilities are found pre-installed in the M100. There are three consoles for turning wireless LAN on and off and a bunch of shortcut applications that just make the system slower to boot up. Worst is when you “accidentally” press one of their shortcut keys for the 59 times, the system suddenly goes into seizure and starts launching your application in slow motion. When I tried to install a CD/DVD emulation software, the computer hung like time stood still. Then when it’s finally installed after 4 hard reboots, the drive didn’t even work and crashed repeatedly. I figured it may be conflicting with the DVD-RAM driver or the resident burning software that came with it. Bottomline is, Toshiba’s list of wholesome software makes the system slow and unstable, best to remove anything you don’t need.

Conclusion:

The Toshiba Satellite M100 is ideal for college students who are on limited budget. The lightweight design is good for carrying around campus; however, there are other lighter and more compact choices out there. The M100 does not particularly stand out in its class, but rather is doing what everybody else is doing. Reliability and technical support with Toshiba has been above average in the past, and this may be the main reason to continue to shop with Toshiba. Being an aging blue chip competitor in the laptop market, Toshiba needs to start offering bundled packages rather than just rebates to make their products more attractive to potential buyers.

Pros:

  • Harman Kardon speakers
  • Competitive pricing
  • S-Video output
  • Product availability
  • Rebates

Cons:

  • Poor viewing angle on the LCD panel
  • Reflective surface makes screen hard to see
  • Buggy software from Toshiba
  • flimsy construction
  • bulky dimension
  • No dedicated GPU for Canadians
  • Build quality and aesthetics


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