Toshiba Satellite P305D Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (85,797)

by Kevin O’Brien

The new Satellite P305D is the latest 17-inch notebook out of Toshiba, offering the new Fusion finish. This notebook is a complete redesign of the older P205D, and gave the much needed updates that made the older notebook feel very outdated. The P305D also shares much with the slightly smaller 15-inch A305D, looking almost identical besides a few larger parts. Read on to see how well this notebook compares to its smaller siblings as well as other 17-inch notebooks.

Our Toshiba P305D review unit had the following specifications:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, 32-bit)
  • AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core TL-62 (2.1GHz)
  • 17.1" diagonal widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display at 1440×900 (WXGA+)
  • ATI Radeon X1250 Integrated Graphics
  • Atheros Wireless 802.11a/g/n
  • 2GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 250GB 5400rpm Toshiba Hard Drive
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive with Labelflash
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 15.7" x 11.3" x 1.6/1.75"
  • Weight: 7 lbs 8.1oz with six-cell battery
  • 75W (19V x 3.95A) 100-240V AC Adapter
  • 6-cell (4000mAh) Lithium Ion battery
  • 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty
  • Price as configured: $899.99

Build and Design

The first thing you will notice about the Satellite P305D is every part of this notebook is glossy, from the screen cover, to the palm rest, and even the keyboard keys. Toshiba is really showing off their new durable Fusion finish on every part of the notebook that they can, and in some ways it is a very good thing. Durability is a big thing with notebook finishes, as many glossy finishes will dull and scratch over time. The new Toshiba Fusion finish on this laptop is incredibly durable, and has yet to actually scratch throughout my testing. With multiple trips in my backpack, I can’t find any visible scuffs on the cover, where other notebooks would show fine scratches almost out of the wrapper.


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So what does this Fusion finish mean to you? Your keys will not go from matte to glossy over time as they wear down (they are already glossy). Every part of the notebook will get full of smudges and fingerprints, but you can always wipe it down in a couple of minutes to make it look brand new. On other notebooks you get all the smudges, but it would take some hard work with some plastic polish before you ever got it looking new again.

Build quality is excellent in most areas, giving the notebook a very solid feel. Squeaks and creaks are not present, and panel flex is at a minimum. The notebook did have one minor flaw though; just like the A305 and A305D, the P305D has rough edges around the screen frame where the two plastic pieces meet. If you can get past that (I don’t see why not) you will love this notebook.


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Body Changes

The new Satellite P305D changes quite a bit of its design, while still retaining some resemblance of its older P205D brother. The biggest change is the use of the new durable Fusion finish, which can be found on practically every surface of the notebook, from the top cover to the individual keyboard keys. Unlike the older glossy surface that would scuff with minimal effort, the Fusion finish holds up very well, and I have yet to find any fine scratches or other wear on it.

The keyboard and surrounding area has changed quite a bit form the older P205D, including touch sensitive multimedia keys, which are very common on most new notebooks. Another change is the flush touchpad area, which is surprisingly slick with its textured surface. It is almost too easy to slide your finger around on it, and slip off onto the palm rest. The touchpad buttons have also changed quite a bit, going from rectangular slabs to chromed ovals which are easier to trigger, as well as being more comfortable to use.

Display

The display on the P305D uses a WXGA+ glossy LCD panel, which rates about average. Vertical viewing angles are limited, with a very narrow range that gives you an optimal image. This means that if the screen is tilted slightly forward or back, the image shown goes dark and inverted or light and washed out. Even in the "sweet spot" you still have the top edge that is darker and the bottom edge that is started to get washed out. Horizontal viewing angles were much better, giving a wide enough angle that would give people sitting next to you a clear and mostly crisp view of the screen.


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Screen backlight brightness was more than adequate, with my preferred brightness setting in an office environment being 75%-80%. At home or darker settings I had it around 40%-50% brightness. Backlight bleed was minimal if at all noticeable. Backlight brightness across the screen was great, with no noticeable uneven portions.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard found on the P305D is very similar to the A305, just wider. With the real estate of a 17-inch notebook, they were able to fit a full-size number pad to the right of the keyboard. The keyboard surface is glossy, which goes perfectly with the Fusion finish of the rest of the notebook. I found typing to be very comfortable on this keyboard, but there was a bit of a learning curve getting used to sliding your fingertips around on the glossy texture. Key spacing was excellent, and individual key presses were soft and had just the right amount of throw.


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The touchpad surface on the P305D could be best described as soft and slippery sandpaper. It has a semi-rough texture that feels different from any other touchpad I have used, and it lets you finger glide over it with ease under many conditions. Whether your finger is dry from the start, or starting to sweat after hours of use the touchpad still lets your finger glide along without resistance. The large touchpad buttons are located right under the touchpad and impossible to miss. While they are rigid plastic, they feel very soft with the graceful rounded shape. Even after hours of using the notebook, they are still comfortable to click.

Performance

The Toshiba P305D comes loaded with the AMD Turion TL-62 2.1GHz processor, and the ATI X1250 integrated graphics. For most activities this combination handles itself quite well, including office productivity applications or watching movies. Gameplay is out of the question without dedicated graphics, which is reflected on its 3D benchmarking score. For standard use and abuse, this computer handles itself quite well, and if you can get past the lack of gaming would work for 99 percent of the users out there.

WPrime 32M comparison results

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better. Lower numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook Time
Toshiba Satellite P305D (2.1GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-62, Windows Vista) 38.049s
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, Windows Vista) 39.732s
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, Windows Vista) 30.359s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista) 31.108s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Windows Vista) 42.085s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7400@ 2.16GHz, Windows XP) 41.40s
HP dv6000z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.00GHz, Windows Vista) 38.913s
Sager 9260 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6700@ 2.66GHz, Windows XP ) 33.718s
Dell Precision M70 (Intel Pentium-M 780 @ 2.26GHz, Windows XP) 78.992s

PCMark05 comparison results:

PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite P305D (2.1GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-62, ATI Radeon X1250) 3,366 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 3,305 PCMarks
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS) 7,749 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,865 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,261 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 5,377 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results:

3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Satellite P305D (2.1GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-62, ATI Radeon X1250) 308 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 301 3DMarks
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS) 8,801 3DMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 3,775 3DMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 2,934 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 2,930 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks
Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 794 3DMarks

 

HDTune results:


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Audio

The speakers on the Toshiba P305D were nothing short of amazing. Even while lacking a subwoofer, the speakers were more than capable of reproducing more bass than many systems I have heard that had a dedicated subwoofer. The speakers look very similar to the ones found on the A305, but as you can see, they are quite a bit larger in size.


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For private listening, the headphone jack works great for static free audio.

Ports and Features

The AMD-based Toshiba P305D has the same port lineup as the smaller 15.4" A305D. I would have enjoyed seeing more than four USB ports with the added space around the edges, but overall it was still more than adequate. One feature that is worth mentioning even though most won’t take advantage of it is the additional hard drive bay. Even though this notebook does not include the second drive, it leaves the SATA connector in place for those wanting to expand their storage capacity at a later point in time. All that is needed to use this bay is a cheap drive caddy to secure the drive in place.

  • ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54)
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Modem jack
  • 5-in-1 media card reader
  • VGA out, S-Video
  • Microphone input port
  • Headphone output port
  • IEEE-1394 (FireWire)
  • Four USB 2.0 ports (with "Sleep and Charge")

Left: VGA, CPU Exhaust, S-Video, LAN, two USB ports, Firewire, ExpressCard/54


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Right: Two USB ports, Modem, Optical Bay, AC Power, Kensington Lock slot


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Front: Wireless On/Off, 5-in-1 Card Reader, Headphone/Mic, Volume Knob


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Rear: Nothing, all hinge


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Heat and Noise

Fan noise was minimal under normal use with the P305D, but it did become more vocal under stress. Peak fan noise was far from being unbearable, but it would still be noticeable to those around you.

Notebook temperatures were kept under control very well. The top surface overall was warmer than the bottom, and since that side goes on your lap, that is fine by me. The hottest point as you can see by the heat overlays below was the touchpad.


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Battery

The P305D with 6 cell battery managed 2 hours and 15 minutes using the Windows Vista "Balanced" power profile, with the backlight set to 70% and the wireless connection enabled. Toshiba does offer a larger 9 cell battery which should get users well over the 3 hour mark.

Conclusion

The Toshiba Satellite P305D is a great update from the older P205D notebook, giving buyers a much nicer notebook for the price, as well as a few new perks like the awesome Fusion finish. The fit and finish are excellent, and with features such as the excellent Harmon/Kardon speakers or flush mounted touchpad, users get a lot for their money.

While the budget price of $899 for the Toshiba P305D can be tempting, I would highly suggest users try to pinch together another $50-$100 to step up to the Intel-based P305, which offers users a dedicated graphics card, larger hard drive, and a few other goodies that help make the P305 notebook a much better machine. I have nothing against AMD processors, but when they are artificially crippled with low-end hardware (integrated graphics), a user would have no choice but upgrade to the Intel version to get the performance they want.

I really love the layout, solid build quality, and features of this notebook, but when only a minor price bump gets you a notebook that can play modern games, it would be wrong not to point you in that direction.

Pros

  • Great keyboard
  • Touch sensitive media controls
  • Wonderful flush mounted touchpad
  • Excellent Harmon/Kardon Speakers

Cons

  • Relatively low performance for a relatively high budget price
  • Warm touchpad
  • Highly reflective surface


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