Toshiba Satellite Pro U400 Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (231,629)

The Satellite Pro U400 is the business version of the more consumer oriented Satellite U405. This 13.3" notebook gives business users or standard consumers another notebook option if they really like the size and features of the Satellite U405, but don’t want the "Look at Me!" glossy finish. Feature wise you can configure each notebook the same, with the exception of Windows XP being exclusive to the business notebook. Read on to see what we think of this business counterpart to the consumer U405.

Our Toshiba U400 review unit had the following specifications:

  • Windows XP Professional (SP2)
  • Intel T8100 Penryn (2.1GHz) Processor
  • 13.3" WXGA 1280×800 TruBrite Display (Glossy)
  • Intel X3100 Integrated Graphics
  • Intel Pro 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g) and Bluetooth V2.1 +EDR
  • 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 160GB 5400rpm Toshiba Hard Drive
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Stereo speakers
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 12.4" x 9.02" x 1.08" /1.38" with feet
  • Weight: 4.61lbs with six-cell battery
  • 75W (19V x 3.95A) 100-240V AC Adapter
  • 6-cell (4800mAh) Lithium Ion battery
  • 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty
  • Price as configured: $1,049.99

 


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Build and Design

The U400′s stylish design features a 2-tone color scheme of matte silver on black. Many of the traditionally-square notebook features have been softened with round edges. The overall style is carried onto the keyboard and touchpad areas with both reflecting the shape of the notebook itself. Once the factory stickers are removed from the palmrest areas, the notebook’s design blends into a cohesive whole. 

The plastic case of the notebook is fairly durable, with no squeaks or creaks when carrying it around. Some flex is present on vast open areas like the screen cover or palmrest, but it is pretty minor unless you always find yourself giving your notebook a death grip. The left edge of the palmrest above the ExpressCard slot is probably the worst point of flex on the entire notebook, since it has no bracing unless a card is inserted.

I feel that the matte paint on the Satellite Pro doesn’t hold up quite as well as the Fusion finish on the consumer Satellite series. After a week or so of testing, the notebook is already showing some scuffs around the corners from my backpack and sliding around my desk. With the Fusion finish notebook, it is hard to find a small scratch, let alone an entire scuffed edge. I figure I have just been spoiled with the newer glossy textures which hold up to abrasion much better than anything found on prior notebooks.

Display

The 13.3" WXGA screen found on the Toshiba Satellite Pro U400 rates average, and came with no problems or defects. The screen was dead/stuck pixel free during our review period, and was sealed well enough to prevent any major backlight leakage. The screen backlight was powerful enough to allow comfortable viewing in an office setting with as low as 40-50% backlight brightness level. The backlight levels were even throughout the screen, without any backlight bleed showing through, even on the lower edge of the taskbar.


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Color reproduction was good when screen was tilted in its optimum viewing range, but if you moved outside of that area colors would quickly invert or distort. The poor viewing range was the main cause of me giving this screen an average rating instead of above average.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard found on the Satellite Pro U400 was very good for a notebook of this size. The keyboard stayed in place while typing, even under heavy pressure. Very little sagging was present during our testing, although the left side did have a smidgen more movement than the right side.

Typing on the keyboard is very comfortable, with plenty of space to make the keyboard feel anything but cramped. Key size was perfect, with good throw lengths and smooth action. Typing noise was low, and you could get away with secret ninja typing if you were careful.


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The touchpad rated average with accurate finger tracking use, but lacked many customization features I have come to expect from touchpad utilities. Although the touchpad was a Synaptics model, the menus did not allow for any adjustment for sensitivity, scrolling, or additional functions. The lack of scrolling was my biggest complaint, since no notebook on the market right now lacks that ability. The touchpad buttons were smooth and easy to trigger, with a shallow and soft click when pressed.

Performance

The Toshiba Satellite U400 comes in only two versions at the time of this writing; one with XP, one with Vista. Both of these configurations offer the same spec sheet, including 1GB of RAM, 2.1GHz T8100 Intel processor, and Intel X3100 graphics. In our testing, the consumer U405 running Vista always outperformed the business U400 in every category, and it only had the edge of more RAM.
Graphics performance was limited with the Intel X3100 integrated graphics, nixing all my hopes of running Crysis on the 13.3" notebook. One surprising bit that came up under testing was how poorly the XP version of this notebook performed compared to the U405 running Vista, and only difference being more RAM. Our wPrime score was 8% slower, PCMark05 score was 36% slower, and even the 3DMark06 score was 37% slower.

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. Lower scores indicate better performance.


Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Toshiba Satellite U400 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 40.499s
Toshiba Satellite U405 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 37.500s
Dell Vostro 1310 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 37.736s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
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
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
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
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s

 

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores indicate better gaming performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Satellite U400 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 394 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 539 3DMarks
Dell Vostro 1310 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Nvidia 8400M GS 128MB) 1,679 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 545 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 4,332 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 (higher scores indicate better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Satellite U400 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 3,052 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 4,145 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 1310 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Nvidia 8400M GS 128MB) 4,813 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 4,149 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


HDTune measures the performance of the notebook’s hard drive in terms of both transfer rate (read/write speed) and access time (how long it takes to find data stored on the drive):


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Audio

Speaker performance on the little Satellite Pro U400 is rather weak, with really dinky speakers located in front of the screen hinges. They work well for mild music listening or system notifications, but lack all low and midrange audio. The better alternative choice is using a nice pair of headphones and the headphone jack. That way you can listen to music or movies as loud as you want, while not annoying those around you too much (singing excluded).

Ports and Features

Port selection was about average for a notebook of this size, although it would have been nice to see S-Video or HDMI. Toshiba teased us with a blank HDMI port location, possibly hinting at a future model that offers it, perhaps with dedicated graphics as well.

  • ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54)
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • 56k Modem
  • 5-in-1 media card reader
  • VGA out
  • Microphone input port
  • Headphone output port
  • IEEE-1394 (FireWire)
  • Three USB 2.0 ports

Left: VGA, CPU Exhaust, 2 USB, Firewire, ExpressCard/54, Headphone/Mic


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Right: Optical Drive, 1 USB, Modem, LAN, Kensington Lock Slot


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Front: 5-1 Media Reader, Volume Control Knob, Wireless On/Off


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Rear: Screen Hinge


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Battery Life

With the screen brightness set to 50%, wireless enabled, and the power profile set to normal the U400 managed 3 hours and 32 minutes before it shut down. This was a good 15 minutes below the Vista equipped U405 we reviewed, but still respectable for a standard battery. Toshiba does offer a larger 9 cell 7200mAh extended battery, which should easily get the notebook to or above the 5 hour mark.

Heat and Noise

Thermal performance was above average, with the notebook running cool and quiet the majority of the time. During normal activity the only part of the system you could hear was the hard drive. When the notebook got hot enough to turn on the fan, noise was minimal, and around whisper levels.

The notebook was fairly cool externally, with the only mild hotspot being the touchpad. While the sides of the palmrest were mid 80′s after a couple of hours being on, the touchpad warmed up to 99F. With room temperature at 74F, the notebook was very comfortable to hold and operate. Below is the thermal overlay showing temperatures of the front and bottom of the notebook.


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Conclusion

The Toshiba Satellite U400 gives business users a solid feature list and moderate performance, but did not do as well as the nearly identical configured Satellite U405 we previously reviewed using Vista instead of XP. Performance across the board was less in every test we performed, with the only configuration difference between increased RAM on the Vista model. The other downside to this configuration is the paint finish which doesn’t hold up as well as the Fusion finish on the consumer line, evident by the scuff marks already found on our review sample. If you were looking to purchase this notebook, I might direct you to a Vista configuration of the business U400, or the consumer U405 entirely for the better Fusion finish.


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Pros

  • Cool and Quiet
  • Great Keyboard
  • Adequate Port Selection

Cons

  • Touchpad is not configurable
  • Much lower performance on XP model over Vista

Related Reviews

Toshiba Satellite U405 Review

 


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