Toshiba Satellite P205 Review

by hazel_motes Reads (95,914)
  • Pros

    • Excellent screen
    • Superior sound
    • Good performance
    • Appealing appearance
    • Cool and quiet
  • Cons

    • Integrated graphics
    • Keyboard seems vulnerable to dirt and dust

by Kevin Giberson

The Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 is a 17? multimedia notebook that would seem to be targeting home users willing to spend a little extra to get a notebook computer that can readily handle music, video tasks and the hardware demands of Vista Home Premium. The P205 has plenty of hard drive space for storing media files and comes with a nice bright screen for pleasurable DVD viewing. The configuration under review, the S6287 model, also comes with 2MB RAM, an amount of memory one should probably be looking for when purchasing a Vista machine. At the time of this writing, the P205-S6287 was available in the neighborhood of $1300.


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Toshiba Satellite P205 Specs

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 (1.73 GHz/2MB L2 Cache)
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Hard Drive: 200 GB SATA @ 4200 RPM
  • Screen: 17.0″ WXGA+ TruBrite Widescreen (1440 x 900)
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, 8 – 256 MB Shared
  • RAM: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM @667 MHz (2 x 1024MB)
  • Optical Drive: DVD SuperMulti Drive (CD/DVD burner) with Labelflash
  • Battery: 6-cell lithium ion
  • Wireless: Intel 4965AGN (802.11 a/g/n)
  • Webcam: included
  • Weight: 7.2 ? 8.1 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 1.42 ? 1.83? (H) x 15.7 ? (W) x 11.3″ (D) 
  • Ports/Slots: 1 IEEE 1394 (FireWire); 4 Universal Serial Bus (USB 2.0); VGA monitor out: S-Video TV-out; RJ-45 Ethernet LAN; RJ-11 modem; ExpressCard; headphone/speaker jack; microphone; 5-in-1 Bridge Media Adapter

First Impressions

Within several minutes of starting up the P205 a few more or less distinct impressions had been formed:

  1. Great screen
  2. Loud, clear speakers
  3. Nice overall look
  4. Not even an obsessive hand-washer such as myself will be able to keep that light gray keyboard clean and unmarked.

That was about it, really. I knew this particular version of the P205 had 2GB RAM, a big 4200 RPM hard drive and Intel GMA graphics.

Design and Build


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The P205 is a nice-looking notebook, which is exactly what I would say about almost all notebooks in this class. Like most of the competition, it’s big and glossy without an excess of flash or quirky attempts to be distinctive. The shiny black lid has a big, bold, sans serif  ?TOSHIBA? smack in the middle, and the LCD dips below the base, held in place by a seemingly solid nine-inch-wide hinge molded into the LCD bezel. The stiffness of the hinge seemed pretty good, though I did notice that the LCD would move if I carried the open notebook by its base without keeping the machine perfectly level. When closing the notebook, the lid snapped into place nicely, without any play. In summary, everything appears solid and well made, and my only concern, if I owned a P205, would be to take care while carrying the notebook, when it’s open and in use, because the non-flush display and molded center hinge might be sensitive to abuse.


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Input and Output Ports

The Satellite P205 has a good selection of ports, some might complain that there should be a DVI or HDMI port for high-quality digital output, but personally I have no need for such ports — your needs may vary. Following is a rundown of what you get:


On the front side there’s a wireless on/off switch, headphone and microphone port, SD card slot (view large image)


Right side view: 2 USB 2.0 ports, Modem port, DVD SuperMulti Drive, security lock slot (view large image)


Left side view: DC power in, Monitor out port, Ethernet adapter, 2 USB 2.0 ports, S-Video port, FireWire port, ExpressCard slot (view large image)


Back side view: On the back side there’s the battery — and that’s it (view large image)

The screen


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The glossy WXGA+ screen, at a resolution of 1440×900, was excellent: no light leakage, very bright and sharp, a real pleasure during DVD viewing. A 1680×1050 option would have been nice, but resolution preferences are highly personal, I know, and satisfying all of the people all of the time is simply not possible. LCD quality is primary, and the quality of the P205?s LCD was great.


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Graphics

The GMA 950 graphics worked well enough with all of Vista?s graphical features enabled. I installed and ran Google Earth and everything looked the same as it does with a stronger GPU. It is possible to go to the Toshiba website and custom-configure a P205 with the NVIDIA Go 7600 GPU, at either 128MB or 256MB RAM, though I did not see any pre-configured models with dedicated graphics. It may be worth mentioning that in the midst of writing this review, a number of notebooks featuring the latest non-dedicated Intel graphics, the GMA X3100, were released. But I don?t really know what sorts of advantages the X3100 will get you.

Sound

The built-in Harman/Kardon speakers provide much better sound than that found in your average notebook, offering improved bass, enhanced clarity and exceptional volume for a notebook. This was just about the first thing I noticed upon starting Vista for the first time.

Processor and Performance

Performance was generally good, as one would expect with 2GB RAM and a solid Core 2 Duo CPU. The P205 wasn?t the snappiest computer in the house (that would be the desktop), but I noticed no appreciable lag when comparing the P205 to two other dual-core computers, and both of these use faster hard drives and dedicated video. Nonetheless, if there is any slowness to be found in the P205, it will probably come while using applications that want a lot of graphics power or hard drive speed.

Benchmarks

Super PI, used to test CPU performance by calculating pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, yielded the following:

Notebook Time
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 59s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba A100 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+) 2m 02s

 

 

The 3DMark05 synthetic graphics benchmark results:

3DMark05 Comparison Results:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (Intel 1.73GHz T5300 + GMA 950) 559 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 871 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3D Marks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700 (AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3D Marks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks

 

 

PCMark05 is a synthetic benchmark that tests overall system performance:

Comparison table for PCMark05

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (Intel 1.73GHz T5300 + GMA 950) 2,981 PCMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 2,420 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite A135 (Core Duo T2250, Intel GMA 950) 3,027 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950) 2,732 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo) 3,427 PCMarks

 

HDTune tests for the hard drive performance, below is a screenshot of the performance results for the hard drive that came with this configuration of the P205:

HDTune Benchmarks

 

Windows Experience Index

As indicated immediately below, the Windows Experience Index Primary Hard Disk subscore was 4.5, a result I found somewhat interesting, given the 4200 RPM hard drive. This result was in fact higher than at least one score I?ve seen for a 5400 RPM drive.

Keyboard and Touchpad


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The keyboard and touchpad were both easy to work with, the former having good travel, feel and responsiveness. One thing that struck me as slightly unusual was the level of elevation of the function keys; they were raised to a degree that left some of their inner workings exposed. I don?t imagine this would be a problem as long as the keyboard is kept clean and relatively dust-free.

Battery Life

With built-in power management set to ?balanced,? which translates to decent battery life but still good performance, the 6-cell battery lasted a little over two hours. I was actually somewhat surprised to get a full two hours, as I had wireless enabled the whole time, the screen remained fairly bright under the ?balanced? option, and I was regularly accessing the hard drive.

Heat and Noise

The P205 never strayed from its cool and quiet state, and I do generally notice laptop heat and noise. Seeing as this laptop is large with big heat vents and doesn’t have a souped up processor and graphics card, it’s easy to understand why heat is easily dissipated.

Wireless

The Intel 4965 wireless performed without a hitch, it supports 802.11 a/b/g/n to cover all of the bases.

Software

Startup and shutdown were clean, and there was no evidence of software problems. I did leave Vista?s User Account Control enabled for a change, finding that it wasn?t quite as annoying as I?d previously thought. There was, of course, a lot of marketing material posing as usable software, but this is true of all consumer laptops, and the P205?s Bloatware Experience Index seemed no higher than that of other manufacturers. What I did find particularly nice about Vista Home Premium was the ease with which I was able to connect and use a USB TV tuner.

Conclusion

The Toshiba Satellite P205 does what it sets out to do, handling multimedia content very nicely, thanks to the excellent screen, Vista Home Premium and 2GB RAM. Many popular current games would be hampered by the GMA 950 graphics, but for everything else this P205 performed well. The media notebook segment of the market, which seems to be enjoying immense popularity at the moment, is highly competitive, but at the right price, the P205 merits consideration. The P205 will be coming soon equipped with the new Intel Santa Rosa platform, if you’re looking for improved performance (at a price) then you can look out for that.

Pros

  • Excellent screen
  • Superior sound
  • Good performance
  • Appealing appearance
  • Cool and quiet

Cons

  • Integrated graphics
  • Keyboard seems vulnerable to dirt and dust


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