by Tim Dellenbaugh
The Toshiba Satellite P105-S9722 notebook comes equipped with the new Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor. This is a dual core 2 GHz chip with 4 MB of cache. This specific configuration of the P105 comes with a generous two gigs of PC5300 DDR2 SDRAM memory, and powerful NVIDIA 7900 GS graphics card with 256 MB of video memory. Also included is built-in Bluetooth and an integrated fingerprint reader. A 200 GB hard drive provides tons of storage capacity, although the 4200 rpm spin is rather slow. The P105 has the usual assortment of USB ports, a FireWire port, gigabit Ethernet, 56K modem, Express Card slot, PCMCIA slot, microphone, line output, headphone jack shared with SPDIF, and a memory card reader. Video outputs include VGA, DVI, and S-Video. To see an exhaustive list of specs view the specs sheet Toshiba has on their site.
Toshiba Satellite P105-S9722 (view large image)
Reasons for Buying
The P105 was purchased to replace a six-year old Compaq. I wanted a desktop replacement notebook with 17-inch screen to allow comfortable viewing of two documents side-by-side. Other models I considered included the Dell Inspiron e1705. Factors weighing against the Dell included lack of a number pad, a price which fluctuated substantially day to day, and the fact the 1440 x 900 screen I wanted was only available with a matte finish. I also strongly considered the HP Pavilion dv9000t. Its integrated web cam was a significant positive compared to the Dell and Toshiba. However, it was not available with the Nvidia 7900 video card. They were also unable to build one with the selected processor soon enough for my needs. So when the Toshiba showed up on the Costco.com website for $1,800, I bought it.
Design and Ergonomics
Rear view of Satellite P105-S9722, notice navy blue lid (view large image)
Several prior reviewers have commented about the build and design of the P100/P105 Toshiba notebooks. I agree with their sentiment that this is a good-looking machine that is well-built with minimal flex in the keyboard and screen. The model I have sports a navy blue top. While I appreciate having the numeric keypad, Toshiba’s design results in smaller right “Shift”, “/” , “\”, and “.” keys. So far I have been able to adapt to this keyboard layout, but I still have some hesitation when reaching for any of the modified keys. The touchpad is a "dual mode" pad. It functions well with no problems. If one taps in the upper right-hand corner icons are highlighted to activate e-mail, Toshiba diagnostics, printing, in addition to three user defined program launch buttons and a volume control. The front edge of the laptop holds the memory car reader, audio jacks, a rotary volume control and a switch to turn the wireless antennae on or off. I am unable to read the markings on the front edge of the notebook in normal office light, but you learn their locations without having to look pretty quickly.
Front view of Satellite P105 (view large image)
Left side view of Satellite P105 (view large image)
Right side view of Satellite P105 (view large image)
Keyboard view (view large image)
Fingerprint reader (view large image)
The integrated fingerprint reader includes software to remember passwords and to lock any sensitive documents. So far it has worked part of the time, but on a several occasions I have needed to swipe my finger multiple times before being recognized, and on a few occasions it has threatened to lock me out of the machine. Then I have to go ahead and type in the password which defeats the purpose of the fingerprint reader. This style of reader requires a “swipe”. I use a different style of reader (where you just place your finger on the sensor) daily with excellent recognition. At this point I’m not sure how much of an advantage it truly provides.
The screen is bright, with good colors, and the now popular reflective finish / glossy screen. I used Pixel Buddy to look for dead pixels, and thankfully I was unable to find any. There does appear to be a slightly increased brightness in the lower left-hand corner of the screen where the backlight is, but it is not very noticeable.
Other reviewers have complimented the speakers in this notebook series. As expected, they have negligible bass output. In my opinion the speakers are adequate for listening to background music or other tasks which do not require extreme volume or fidelity.
Heat and Noise
The cooling fan operates constantly at a low volume, and occasionally kicks up to a higher speed when needed. I have not noticed any problems with excessive heat on any part of the machine.
I used battery eater software to test the battery. Under this high drain condition, the battery lasted for one hour and 20 minutes. Under “normal” conditions it should last significantly longer. Since I use this machine as a desktop replacement, I am not too concerned about battery life anyway.
I conducted a number of benchmark tests with this machine. I wanted to assess the value of two gigs of RAM versus one gig, and also wanted to look at the influence of the power saving modes for the video card on performance. I ran each benchmark several times and averaged the results.
One gig memory
Max video performance
Two gigs memory
Max video performance
Two gigs memory
balanced video performance
Two gigs memory
power saving performance
|3-D Mark 05||6225||6225||2919||1259|
|3-D Mark 06||3822||3824||2058||954|
|PC Mark 05||4925||5100||3650||2950|
The extra gigabyte of memory had no impact on 3-D Mark 05, 3 Mark 06 or super pi. It did help slightly on PC Mark 05. As expected, the reduced power modes for the 7900 GS resulted in substantial decreases in performance on 3-D testing. These modes also resulted in significant though less dramatic decreases on PC Mark 05.
I also ran HD Tune. Here is a link to Tom’s Hardware review of this drive.
So far I like the design and performance of this computer. The main positives include a very fast processor and very fast video at a reasonable price. Overall performance appears to be consistent with the hardware specifications. The main drawbacks include the nonstandard keyboard, inconsistent finger print reader and Toshiba’s poor history for customer support. It has a standard one year warranty. A 4 year warranty including accident protection is available for $360. A 4 year warranty without accident protection is $206.