Toshiba Satellite Pro A210 Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (204,301)

by Kevin O’Brien

Toshiba just released the Satellite Pro series notebook line, which is a toned down business version of their popular Satellite models. Some of the key changes include the loss of the glossy cover, black instead of silver keyboard, and the loss of some quick access media keys. Overall the notebook is basically the same as its fancier brothers, but with a smaller pricetag for small businesses.

Our Satellite Pro A210 had the following configuration:

  • 15.4-inch WXGA (1280 x 800) CCFL glossy screen
  • AMD M690V chipset
  • AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology TL-60
  • 2GB DDR2-667 SDRAM (supports up to 4GB DDR2 SDRAM)
  • 120GB 5400 RPM SATA HDD
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive
  • ATI X1200 Integrated Graphics
  • Ethernet, Atheros 802.11b/g
  • VGA, S-Video, four USB 2.0 ports, integrated media reader (MS, SD, xD)
  • Windows XP Pro
  • Battery: 4000mAh 4-cell, 75w AC Adapter
  • Dimensions: (WxDxH): 14.3” x 10.5” x 1.32-1.55” (without feet)
  • Weight starts at 5.9 pounds with 6-cell battery (5lbs 15.9oz actual)


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Build and Design

The Satellite Pro A210 has a nice sleek design with very soft rounded edges, sloped palm rests, and even a glossy screen that you don’t usually find on business notebooks. The top cover features a matte semi-gloss texture instead of having the gloss finish found out the Satellite models. The benefit of the new texture is that it’s more resistant to handprints and smudges. Opening the top cover we find more changes from the consumer line, with the multimedia access keys missing, high-end speakers gone, and the keyboard color being black instead of silver. Once you get past those changes the notebook is practically identical to the consumer Satellite line.


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The buttons feel very solid, support under the keyboard is firm, display latches are solid, and support behind the LCD is excellent. Pressing firmly behind the LCD did not produce any rippling effect. Chassis flex is minimal if there at all, letting you pick up the laptop from the edge of the palm rest without any sagging.

Screen

The screen is a glossy style, coming in at a 1280×800 native resolution. Colors are very vibrant, and viewing angles are decent. You start to notice some muting of colors as you move above or below the screen, but it is very acceptable in comparison to other models. Black levels do tend to wash out when not in the optimal viewing angle, but are still acceptable. Below are some screenshots showing off the screen at various viewing angles.


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Speakers and Audio

The speakers sound like gigantic ear buds with the volume being blasted at a high level. Almost all bass and midrange are missing from music and movies. For basic use the speakers should be fine if you have no other choice, but headphones would be highly recommended for travel use.

Processor and Performance

This model came equipped with the AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, and the ATI X1200 integrated graphics. For standard computer use this notebook is no slouch, but it really lags with gaming performance. Although it is common for integrated graphics to fall behind in gaming tasks, the ATI X1200 scored almost 40 percent less than the Intel X3100 in 3DMark06.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Toshiba Satellite Pro A210 (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 46.593s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s
Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz) 47.563s

 

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Satellite Pro A210 (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI X1200) 322 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 2,905 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 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 (1.66GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 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

PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite Pro A210 (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI X1200) 3,020 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 5,412 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 4,616 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
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 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
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks

 

HD Tune results:


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Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on this laptop is very comfortable to type on. The key throws are just the right length, very little finger pressure is required, and the edges are very defined, yet softly rounded. This allows you to type very quickly for long periods of time with ease. Each key press is also very quiet, so you can type notes or chat during class without annoying those around you. It has some mild flex in spots above the optical bay, but it is very mild.


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The touchpad resides in a recessed cavity, which helps to keep your fingers in the right spot without slipping out. Its texture is similar to a sheet of paper. The mouse buttons below it provide shallow feedback, and I would have liked a bit more throw to each press.

Ports and Features

Front: SD Card reader, Headphone and Microphone jacks, and Volume control.


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Rear: Display Hinge


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Left: VGA, CPU Exhaust Vent, S-Video, LAN, 2 USB, Expresscard/54, and Firewire.


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Right: Two USB, Modem, Optical drive, AC plug, and Kensington Lock slot.


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Wireless

Reception of the internal wireless card is very nice, picking up most networks around it. Depending on your area, it can be hard to compare signal strength, since many out of the box wireless configurations will put the a network on the same channel as those around it. This can cause a bunch of dropout problems that no wireless card can get around. I didn’t experience this in my area, but your location could be different.

Heat and Noise

The cooling system on the A210 is very refined, and near silent during use. Case temperatures were kept to a minimum, and the palmrests were basically room temperature even have hours of running. The only hotspots on the notebook were the center of the top and center of the bottom, and even those were fairly mild compared to other notebooks. Fan noise was always at a minimum, with a low speed that you could only hear with your ear put up against the vent. Below are images with the average temperatures listed in degrees Fahrenheit.


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Battery

Battery life was below average, only reaching 2 hours and 26 minutes under mild use with the screen brightness down to about 75 percent. Carrying around the AC adapter would be a must with this notebook for school or travel use.


Conclusion

Compared to the Toshiba Tecra line that has some problems with high heat output and odd build quality problems, the Satellite Pro A210 is a step in the right direction. Build quality is very good, with only minor flex in certain spots. Case heat output is minimal and very lap friendly and it has an incredibly quiet cooling fan. My only real complaint is the lack of graphics cards options, that you can find in the small business models from other manufacturers.

Pros

  • Nice bright screen with good color reproduction
  • Quiet CPU fan
  • Nice sleek design
  • Case temperatures are barely above room temperature

Cons

  • Second HD bay with no connectors
  • Weak graphics performance


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