Toshiba Satellite M60 and M70 Comparison Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (72,123)

Note to readers: the Canadian/Australian Satellite M70 laptop is sold as the Satellite M65 in the U.S. while the M60 U.S. version is now discontinued and the closest equivalent is the Satellite A105 15.4″ notebook.

Overview and Introduction:

I started to search for a notebook in July of 2005 when I was a secondary school graduate preparing for university. I was moving into residence so I wanted a notebook computer that I could bring home when returning home for the weekends. Another reason for purchasing a laptop computer was to avoid the trouble of replugging cables while moving between home and residence during the holidays. I decided a notebook with decent speed, reasonable portability and good battery life would be most suitable for my needs.

 Comparison of Main Components on Toshiba Satellite M60-BK3 to M70-SR3    
  Specifications of M60-BK3 Specifications of M70-SR3
 Screen   17.0″ TFT with TruBrite
WXGA+ 1440 x 900 15.4″ TFT with TruBrite
15.4″ TFT with TruBrite WXGA 1280 x 800 
 Processor Intel Pentium M Processor 750 (1.86GHz, 533MHz FSB) Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (1.73GHz, 533MHz FSB)   
 Memory  512MB PC2-4200 DDR2, 533MHz (512MB x 1)  512MB PC2-4200 DDR2, 533MHz (512MB x 1) 
 Hard Drive  100.0 billion bytes, 4200rpm, Enhanced IDE  100.0 billion bytes
5400rpm, S-ATA  
 Optical Drive  DVD Super-Multi Double Layer Drive DVD Super-Multi Double Layer Drive   
 Video Card NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 with 128MB DDR dedicated video memory  Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900 with 128MB DDR shared video memory   
 Keyboard  Full sized 103 keys with numeric keypad  Full sized 85 keys with 12 function keys 

 Other specifications common to both computers:

  • Speakers: Harman Kardon Stereo speakers
  • Modem: V.92 56K Data/Fax Modem
  • External Memory Card Slots: 5-in-1 Multimedia port
  • Operating System: Windows XP Home with service pack 2


Satellite M60 (view large image)


Satellite M70 (view large image)

Reasons for Buying/Where and How Purchased:

You may wonder why I am comparing notebooks of two different classes; a desktop replacement as Satellite M60 to a semi-portable Satellite M70. Originally, I was looking for a laptop in the 5-6 pounds range and never considered a 17″ laptop. However, the Satellite M60-BK3 was on sale at Best Buy at a very good price (with a free printer) and the deal was too hard to pass. The second computer, the Satellite M70, was purchased during the Christmas Holiday, also at a very good price at nearly half of what I paid for the M60.

I have looked at many places around, and the following is a list of laptops I had considered.

  • Acer Aspire AS1694WLMi / AS1692WLMi / AS5002WLMi
  • Asus W3v / Z63a
  • Asus Z71v
  • Asus Z70v / Z70va
  • Dell Inspiron 6000/ Inspiron 600m
  • IBM/Lenovo T42/T43
  • Toshiba Satellite M40-JM8, M40-SF3
  • Toshiba Satellite M50-YP5
  • Toshiba Satellite M70-SR3, M70-FE5, M70-SR6

The Toshiba Satellite M60-BK3 is not listed as a laptop I considered because, as mentioned earlier, I did not consider purchasing a 17″ screen laptop. Up until mid-September, a thin and light was still on the top of my mind, therefore I was leaning towards the Asus W3V/Z63a and Toshiba Satellite M50. However, when I was browsing through the Canadian Best Buy website, I found that for $300 more than the M50, I could get a 17″ screen laptop, equipped with a discrete video card, 100 GB of hard drive space and a free Lexmark All-in-One printer.

So I bought the Satellite M60-BK3, I was able to play with it a week before I returned it because of a red stuck pixel in the centre of the screen on the M60. I did not notice the dead pixel until I found it with Dead Pixel Buddy, but after that time it bothered me whenever I looked at that area of the screen. The 17″ screen also meant I had to carry an extra pound of weight in addition to the books, power adapter and mouse. The video card was too powerful for my gaming purposes as a real-time strategy (Warcraft III) fan.

My experiences with the M60 gave me an idea of what to expect from a laptop. I decided that the integrated graphics with a 15.4″ screen would serve my purposes. As soon as the Satellite M70 was introduced by Toshiba in early October I knew that was the laptop I wanted.  So I followed the prices closely and I finally bought the M70 during the holidays when it hit the lowest price at $1,095.

Build & Design:

The build and design of M60 and M70 are nearly indistinguishable; sharing some of the same flaws and features. The lid of the M60 is grey and the M70 is bluish green with some slight sparkle on it to make it look professional yet not too dull. The body of the laptop is made entirely of plastic, explaining the amount of flex on the lid when pushed on the Toshiba logo, which is especially more evident on the wider M60. The screen is well protected; I did not notice any rippling effects on the screen when I push on the lid of both laptops.


M60 with “Mist Grey” lid (view large image)


M70 with “Peacock Blue” lid (view large image)

The internal of laptop is made again of plastic and the palm rest area is made of an aesthetically-pleasing silver plastic layered by a stripe of black plastic. The plastic stripe actually serves as a disguise for the touchpad buttons. Very nice!

The hinges feel sturdy but the screen wobbles slightly when it is in the up position. I was also able to twist the screen slightly so I would recommend opening the lid carefully.

In terms of weight, the M70 is considered average for its class at 6 pounds while at 7.3 pounds, the M60 is considered light in the desktop replacement category. The size of the M60 definitely suggests the use of both hands to carry the laptop around.

Screen:

The Toshiba Satellite M60 and M70 both feature the Trubrite screen, more commonly known as a glossy screen. The screens of both models are nearly identical in terms of quality, but differ in size and resolution. The M60 and M70 feature a 17″ screen with 1440 x 900 resolution and a 15.4″ screen with 1280 x 800 resolution respectively. Most of the newer laptops now feature widescreen and these two models are no exceptions. From my experience, I noticed that the black colour on a Trubrite screen appears to be washed out on a black background. Adjusting the screen settings of the video driver slightly improved the quality. No complaints with the brightness and contrast of the screen though, playing a movie is absolutely gorgeous on the M60 and M70.


Colours on a Trubrite Screen look vivid as shown in this picture of M60 (view large image)


A black screen appears washed out on the M70 (view large image)

Speakers:

The speakers are very good, comparable to external speakers on my desktop. Sound will be slightly muffled when you are typing on the laptop since the wrist will sit directly on the speakers. I noticed slight sound quality improvement with SRS WOW XT and TruSound XT features, which are included in the Toshiba software package. The volume control on the front of the laptop is very convenient. However, be aware that there are no audio ports on the back of the computer, so the only way to attach external speakers is to send the wire to the front of the laptop.

Processor and Performance:

The M60 sports the Intel Pentium M 750 processor running at 1.86 GHZ while the M70 runs on a Pentium M 740 processor running at 1.73 GHZ. The 5400RPM SATA HD on the M70 gives it the advantage when navigating files and loading applications. Migrating from a desktop with a 7200RPM hard drive, I certainly notice the slight lag when navigating through files. Both laptops come standard with 512 MB of RAM, which is plenty for web-surfing and desktop publishing.

Benchmarks:

 Benchmark Comparison  
  Satellite M60  Satellite M70
 Super Pi (to 2 million digits)  1:41  1:43
 PCMark04  3685  2997
 3DMark05  2120  245
 PCMark05  N/A  1877

3DMark05 Results Comparison

 Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
 Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz, Intel integrated graphics)  245 3D Marks
 Toshiba Satellite M60 (Pentium M 1.86GHz,  GeForce GO 6600 128MB)  2120 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2530 3D Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2536 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4157 3DMarks


(view large image) HD Tune of M60


(view large image) HD Tune of M70

Keyboard and Touchpad:

The keyboard is a feature that distinguishes the M60 from the M70. The 17″ screen-M60 includes a keyboard with a number pad similar to external keyboards, while M70 features standard laptop keyboard with no number pad. The addition of the number pad, in my opinion, is the source of the keyboard flex on the M60, especially the area between the number pad and the rest of the keys. As expected, some of the keys on the M60 such as the period, arrows and the shift keys must be shrunk in order to fit the number pad. Since the number pad shifts all the keys off-center, it will be hard to keep the computer balance while typing on your lap. No complaints on the M70 however, all the keys are sturdy and I observe no flex at all.


Keyboard of M60.  The number pad on the right will be handy for calculations on the go. (view large image)


Keyboard of M70. Notice the similarities to M60 (view large image)

Input and Output Ports:

The following pictures will indicate the wide range of input and output ports on the Toshiba Satellite M60.


Right side (view large image)


Left side (view large image)


Front side (view large image)


Back side (view large image)

 

The following pictures show the ports on the M70.


Right side (view large image)


Left side (view large image)


Front side (view large image)


Back side (view large image)


Wireless:

The wireless card installed on both laptops is the Intel PRO/Wireless Network 2915 ABG wireless. For the most part, the Intel wireless card works seamlessly. Connecting to my home network takes seconds and is a snap. Connecting to the wireless network at my university is more of a hassle; the connection is often disconnected and reception is very weak. My friend’s laptop and my laptop side-by-side, my laptop almost always picked up a few less wireless hotspots. There are also problems connecting to wireless networks after the computer comes out of hibernation.

Battery:

For a 17″ screen laptop, the battery life of the M60 is considered very good. Without any hardware or software enhancements such as undervolting, the laptop survived for at least 3 hours under normal usage (word processing, internet surfing on wifi) while it lasted around 2 hours while gaming. I have had the M70 long enough to try undervolting and it should have similar battery life to the M60 without undervolting. I was able to watch 2 episodes of Lost on a single battery charge.  The AC adaptor of the M70 is about 2/3 the size of M60’s AC adaptor. 


(view large image)

Size comparison of M70’s AC adaptor with AA battery

Operating System and Software:

Toshiba laptops I had experience with were cluttered with AOL and other programs. While the programs were not a significant hindrance to performance, I still decided to do a clean install to clean up the computer. Notably useful software on the laptop is the Toshiba Configfree, a networking software which is especially useful for people new to wireless like me. A full version of Microsoft One Note is also included with the laptop. The operating system of the laptop is the Windows XP Home with service pack 2.


Toshiba ConfigFree will handle any networking problems (view large image)


ConfigFree will inform you of nearby wireless devices and its signal strength (view large image)


Items included with the M60 (Recovery disks, AC adaptor, telephone wire, and manuals) (view large image)

Customer Support:

I have had some experience with the Canadian Toshiba customer support on their website while installing drivers after the clean install. All of the drivers were listed and it was easy to navigate.

Complaints and Praises:

 Complaints and Praises    
   M60  M70
 Complaints – slow hard drive
– off-center keyboard
– no audio ports at the back
– mediocre viewing angles
– washed out black screen
– no audio ports at the back
– mediocre viewing angles
– poor video graphics
 Praises – excellent video graphics
– good battery life for size
– attractive lid colour
– includes a number pad 
– cool LEDs
– small AC adapter
– attractive lid colour
– attractive price

Conclusion:

The M series of the Toshiba Satellite line of laptop is well-featured and is reasonably priced. I wanted a portable, battery-efficient and fast laptop and the M70 series fits the bill. Laptop processor technology is now at the crossroads of single and dual cores. A consumer must now consider more than the clock speed and cache, but also the number of cores in a processor.  Performance users will most likely choose dual-core processors for increased performance, but for many other consumers looking for an economical laptop without the power-saving limitations of a Celeron, Pentium M laptops may be the solution.  Many retailers are now reducing prices on single core laptops, so it may be practical to purchase a Pentium M such as the M70 laptop now if you are a budget user looking for a well-performing laptop.


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