Toshiba Satellite P35 Review (pics, specs)

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by Tim, Hawaii USA

I purchased the Toshiba Satellite P35 from Costco after working with a HP ZD7000 for about 5 months. The only thing I really missed from the ZD7000 was the number pad. Other than that the Toshiba is on par with or trumps the ZD7000 in every aspect except for the screen, which is a tad less bright and vibrant.

Toshiba P35 (view larger image)

System Specs:

  • Mobile Pentium 4 538 3.2GHz, with Hyper-Threading
  • PC2700 512MB DDR SDRAM (512×1)
  • Toshiba 80GB EIDE hard drive 4,200 RPM
  • Matsushita DVD-SuperMulti Drive: Max Speed – CD-ROM (24x); CD-R (16x write); CD-RW (8x write); DVD-ROM (8x); DVD-R (4x write); DVD-RW (2x write); DVD+R (2.4x write); DVD+RW (2.4x write); DVD-RAM (2x write)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 dedicated 64MB
  • 17.0″ WXGA TFT LCD display 1440 x 900 resolution
  • Integrated V.92/56K modem
  • Realtek 10/100 Ethernet LAN
  • Atheros SuperG 802.11b/g  Wireless LAN
  • Harman/Kardon stereo speakers
  • Realtek ALC259 Sound Controller
  • 5-in-1 Multimedia port supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick, MMC, xD Picture Card, Memory Stick Pro

Design

The P35 comes in the standard though somewhat weird satellite scheme of blue top, black keyboard silver interior. The plastic used is pretty flimsy when compared to other laptops. The cooling system is very good, which is essential for a Pentium 4 Prescott model processor. The two 60mm fans are throttled very well and are covered by a strong grill. I found the fans rarely kick into full blast unless I’m playing a game, but at that time I’m too busy enjoying the gaming experience to even really notice the sound. The cooling system seems a lot more efficient than the HP ZD7000’s cooling system, where I found the fan to be noisily spinning in the upper RPMs more often.

Toshiba P35 fan (view larger image)

The brackets connecting the screen to the body do not seem to be very good as I have already noticed a loose wiring connection in this area. I sometimes get shifting colors on the screen depending on what angle I have the screen aligned to. It’s probably just bad luck and it doesn’t annoy me enough to cause me to return the notebook as it works fine at the tilt-angle I use, and I can use it as an excuse to upgrade to a better laptop that will inevitably come out!

Size and Weight

Toshiba Satellite P35 (view larger image)

This laptop is one of the biggest out there. Weighing in at a hefty 9.5 pounds, it is probably only outweighed by a Dell XPS. The dimensions for this notebook are 16.5″ x 11.5″ x 1.57/1.85″ (L x W x H). The AC adapter adds another 1 pound and 3 ounces to overall travel weight of the notebook. This titan is not for the faint of heart!

Screen

The screen is a nice 17″ Widescreen. It is as wide as a full 17″ LCD or 19″ CRT in viewing area. The refresh rate is able to keep up with any game and movie. Color saturation is above average. Brightness is also above average. Viewing angle is a bit poor. This model does not come with the glossy TruBrite screen that many specs sheets say. I’ve seen the TruBrite version of the screen and ran a few test images. It is quite a bit richer in color tones than the normal one. Overall I’d give the screen a rating of 7/10. The TruBrite version would get an 8/10. When comparing the Toshiba P35 to a ZD7000 screen the color saturation is about par, but brightness of the P35 screen would be a bit less. In my opinion the Sony XBrite screen technology is the best of the bunch when it comes to these glossy style screens, but the Sony laptops with XBrite do seem to cost a bit more.

Speakers

Satellite P35 Speakers (view larger image)

Probably one of the best features of this laptop when compared to others is the speakers. They are some of the loudest I’ve experienced. Highs and midrange are very nice and bass, which is non existent on most laptops, is represented. It features SRS TruSurroundXT. If you turn on SRS WOW on Windows Media Player, you can really hear a surround effect if your head is at the sweetspot. Games are simply amazing for something like this. Positioning is quite noticeable. The only problem with the speakers is if you close the lid to the laptop, the speakers will be covered. Most HPs have their speakers angled out so you can leave your screen off when only playing music.

Performance

The P35 comes with a piping hot Intel Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading technology.  My P35 has a 3.2GHz Prescott core with D0 stepping. The FSB runs at 533MHz. The 512MB of memory comes from Samsung running at 166MHz PC2700 spec. Performance is great coming from 3.2GHz. I usually have some 10-15 odd programs running at a time, and the laptop is just as snappy as if it were just booted. I usually just go into standby mode and rarely turn off or reboot the laptop.

Gaming

The Mobile Radeon 9700 is a great performer. The 9700 is basically a 9600 with a slightly revised core and slight boots in frequency. The m9700 featured in this notebook comes with 64MB DDR running at 200MHz and with a core of 390MHz. I was able to overclock them to 250MHz, and 440MHz respectively and stably. This more closely represents the true ratings of an m9700. I would run anything I throw at it with more than acceptable performance. Many games I could even turn on AA and still play happily. Here are averages I get in FRAPs for some of the games I play settings all on high.

Using Omega 4.10 Drivers

 

Resolution

AA

Avg FPS

Call of Duty

1024

2

37

Quake III

1440

2

54

UT 2k3

1024

2

31

Splinter Cell

1024

0

33

Doom3

1024

0

23

Half Life 2

1024

0

32

Warcraft III

1440

0

34

Underground 2

1024

0

29

Prince of Persia 2

1024

0

35

3DMark 2001SE

1024

0

11900

3Dmark 2003

1024

0

2452


I/O Ports

The right side consists of a PCMCIA slot, mini firewire, USB 2.0 port and SD/MMC/Smart/MemoryStick reader with a TI controller. Reader/write speeds are very good. The rear has a huge vent, 2 more USB 2.0 ports, S-Video out, and VGA out. Though being on of the biggest laptops you can find in a store, it lacks a parallel port.

Satellite P35 (view larger image)

Toshiba uses a pot switch style volume control which I really like. It allows more precise adjustments and you can feel what volume it is at without having the laptop to be on.

Input

The keyboard uses the custom Toshiba layout. It’s not bad if you get used to it, but it’s different from pretty much all other keyboards out there, in my opinon there really isn’t any point in going with such a non-standard layout. The most annoying aspect of the keyboard is the bottom left where the CTRL and MENU key are replaced by INS and DEL keys, and the ALT key is moved to the right. Major points off for not including a number pad on such a large sized notebook that has room for it.  The P35 is probably one of the widest notebooks around, about 2inches wider than a ZD7000.

The touchpad is nice and smooth but lacks any special features such as a separated scrolling area or extra keys. The two large mouse buttons feel cheap and so does the feel and clicking noise they produce. The touchpad is noticeably small compared to the rest of the laptop, it is also lowered and more inset than I would like. Touchpad toggle is via hotkey software, rather than a dedicated hard switch. While a hard switch is preferred, it’s very hard to accidentally trip the touchpad when typing as compared with other laptops.

Wireless

Satellite P35 wireless chipset (view larger image)

The P35 comes with the Atheros SuperG chipset which has some incredible range and reliability. Using netstumbler it offers more consistency and range than even the venerable Orinoco Gold PCMCIA card I have. The wireless switch is at the top right edge on the side of the laptop accompanied by an orange LED. I would have liked an LED on top for quicker indication if WiFi is on or not.

Conclusion

Overall the P35 is a very good desktop replacement style notebook. Many people will not want to lug around over ten pounds of weight though. It would be nice to see a Pentium M based 17″ laptop like Sony offers. Pentium 4 chips generally offer very little advantage in speed over a Pentium M these days. If you do intense video editing, maybe the Hyper Threading will help speed things along a bit more. A Pentium M might help increase battery life by a good amount. I usually have 20-30 applications open at one time with some 400-500 threads running and find Athlon and Pentium M processors offer equal every day performance. Versus its current retail competitors, the HP ZD7000 and the Sony VAIO A150, I would rate the Toshiba on top due to its superior gaming performance vs. a GeforceFX 5700 on the ZD7000 and the Radeon 9600 on the A150.  I also really like the superior speakers found in the Toshiba P35.

Pros

  • Incredible performance
  • Great speakers for a laptop
  • Generally quiet and efficient cooling system for a P4

Cons

  • No Number Pad
  • Build quality isn’t as good as previous Toshibas
  • Extremely wide, hard to find bag that fits the laptop

Toshiba Satellite P35 Size vs HP DV1000 and Toshiba A55

(view larger image)

(view larger image)

Pricing and Availability


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