- Excellent performance
- Great price
- Good keyboard
- Exterior gets hot
- Average battery life
- Glossy plastics
AMD technology makes the T135D a compelling choice over Intel solutions.
The Toshiba Satellite T135 series is a popular 13-inch thin-and-light notebook available in a variety of configurations. We previously reviewed the T135 with Intel inside, but what about the T135D with the latest AMD dual-core processors and ATI graphics? Does the AMD-based T135D offer more than the Intel-based T135 for $100 less? We took a closer look to find out.
Toshiba Satellite T135 (T135D-S1324) Specifications:
- 1.6GHz AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core Mobile Processor L625
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 (2 x 2GB)
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
- 13.3″ WXGA HD TruBrite LED Backlit display (1366×768)
- 320GB 5400RPM Toshiba SATA Hard Drive
- ATI Radeon 3200 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n, 10/100 LAN
- 6-in-1 card reader
- 6-Cell Li-ion 61WH battery, 65W Power Supply
- Dimensions: (W x L x H) 12.7″ x 8.78″ x 0.87″/1.35″
- Weight: 3lbs 12.9oz (with 6-cell battery)
- Price as configured: $599.99
Build and Design
The Toshiba Satellite T135-series notebooks are stylish ultraportables that look like previous 13-inch Toshiba notebooks, but in a much thinner and lighter chassis. Toshiba keeps the profile only a fraction of an inch thicker than the USB ports on the side of the notebook, though this is done in large part by cutting out things like an ExpressCard slot and optical drive. For the average user this notebook has all the advantages of a standard computer–a high resolution display, a full-size keyboard and a dual-core processor–but none of the bulk. The black color scheme on our T135D looks nice, although the red exterior of the Intel-based T135 was a nice change of pace. Toshiba offers multiple color schemes for this notebook, so if you don’t think black is beautiful then there are other options available for you to purchase.
Build quality for both the Intel and AMD versions of the T135-series notebooks is very nice despite the very thin chassis. In fact, the exterior of the T135D is identical to the exerior of the T135 except for the AMD sticker on the palmrest. Unlike some of the thin-and-light notebooks we’ve reviewed from other companies, flex and plastic squeaks are kept to a minimum on the T135D, and a metal plate over the hard drive helps keep the vital components safe. The screen cover feels durable as well, although it the screen lid does suffer from some minor flex next to the hinges. In any case, the glossy exterior of the T135D should hold up to typical use and abuse inside a school backpack or an office briefcase. The glossy finish on the body withstands most scratches, but you’ll need to constantly clean off fingerprints and smudges if you want to keep your laptop looking new. The imprinted pattern on the lid and palmrests does a good job of hiding small fingerprints, but sooner or later you will need to find a microfiber cloth.
If you’re interested in upgrading the internal components on your T135D you’ll be happy to learn that the system memory and hard drive are easy to locate beneath a pair of cover plates on the bottom of the notebook. Unfortunately, Toshiba has once again decided to secure the hard drive bay with Torx screws rather than standard Phillips head screws. This means that you’ll need to use a set of precision screwdriver bits with Torx adapters if you want to remove the hard drive. This isn’t a major problem, but it is something of an inconvenience for do-it-yourself PC owners. The cover panel for the memory slots uses standard Phillips screws, so that will be an easier upgrade. No warranty void if removed stickers were found anywhere, so it should be safe to swap out basic components without risking your warranty coverage.
Screen and Speakers
The 13.3″ LED-backlit screen on the T135D appears to be identical to the display panel used on the T135. Colors appear overly saturated (not always a bad thing, but a matter of personal preference) and the contrast ratio looks below average with fairly light black levels. Horizontal viewing angles are good out to at least 45 degrees to either side before you start to notice color distortion. Vertical viewing angles are below average as the display becomes over exposed or colors begin inverting after moving the screen 15 degrees forward or back. Overall screen brightness is good enough for indoor usage under bright office lights or in the shade outdoors. The glossy screen makes reflections something of a problem if you try to use the screen outdoors under direct sunlight.
Speaker quality is below average as the maximum volume output isn’t loud enough to fill a large meeting room withn clear sound. The maximum volume setting on this notebook sounds more like what we expect when we set multimedia notebooks to 50 percent volume. Part of the problem is the speaker location on the bottom front edge of the notebook … which means sound is directed down and away from you rather than up toward your ears. The other issue is the small size of the speaker drivers themselves. Toshiba simply didn’t put impressive speakers into this notebook. If this is your only PC for listening to your music library then I suggest purchasing a good set of headphones.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Once again, the full-size keyboard on the T135D is identical to the T135 and we don’t have much new information to share with you. The keyboard is comfortable for typing and offers excellent support even under very strong typing pressure. The palmrests are just about perfect for average adult male hands as they support the wrists without causing additional stress points while typing. The individual keys have a springy, responsive action and each key has a flat surface similar to a Chiclet-style keyboard without the additional space between each key. Typing noise is minimal, with no loud “click clack” noises while typing. Consumers who are thinking about buying this notebook for typing long documents or notes during class should have no problems with this keyboard
The Synaptics touchpad was once again a slight disappointment in that it had a very slow refresh rate. Replacing the drivers with the latest ones offered on the Synaptics website didn’t improve this issue, so our best guess is that the slow refresh issue has something to do with the touchpad surface/hardware itself. That said, when we uninstalled the drivers the touchpad felt a bit more responsive, so this may indeed be a bug in the Synaptics drivers. We still recommend using the Synaptics drivers since they allow you to use those helpful touchpad features like scrolling or correcting the position of your touchpad/scroll zones. Regardless of the slow refresh issue on the touchpad, the touchpad surface itself is a joy to use. Most of our lab testers agreed that you can easily glide your fingertip across the touchpad surface. The touchpad buttons are made of a reflective silver plastic and don’t offer much in the way of comfort. The individual key press is rather shallow and you have to press the left and right buttons along the outside edge … since the touchpad buttons don’t always work if you press near the middle.
Ports and Features
Port selection is fairly good when compared to ultraportable notebooks, but we’re starting to get worried about the lack of either an ExpressCard slot or eSATA port on 13-inch and larger notebooks. USB is fine for smaller notebooks, but larger notebooks need to offer a few more options in terms of ports. The T135D includes three USB ports, VGA and HDMI-out, LAN, audio jacks, and a Kensington lock slot. Expansion slots include just the 6-in-1 SDHC-compatible card reader.