The Satellite L755 (also sold as the L750) is a 15.6-inch budget notebook with a good keyboard and satisfactory overall performance. With the holidays fast approaching, is it worth recommending this laptop at nearly $700?
Build and Design
The Toshiba Satellite L755 manages to look respectable despite its budget notebook classification. That is, until you start using it. Every visible inch of the notebook has a glossy surface which attracts fingerprints and dust like no other; it quickly turns into a mess. Notebook makers use glossy plastic solely as a means of making the notebook look more attractive on a display shelf. Glossy plastic fails the practicality test and is the worst characteristic of this notebook. Even the keyboard keys are glossy.
The build quality of the notebook is satisfactory; it feels sturdy enough and the chassis resists twisting rather well. Most of the plastic surfaces visibly flex when pressed down upon, however. The plastics used have adequate quality but aren't robust as would be expected on a business notebook, for example.
The display has a surprisingly strong backing which prevents any distortion from showing on the screen when pressure is applied from behind. The screen hinges seem a bit weak as the anchor points are quite small and the display can actually move side-to-side a bit.
Upgrading the L755 is a relatively simple task; two access panels on the bottom of the chassis provide access to the memory and hard drive.
Ports and Features
The L755 includes the bare essentials and nothing more as is the case with most budget notebooks. This notebook lacks the new USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port, eSATA, and DisplayPort; they can't be added either since the L755 also lacks an ExpressCard expansion slot. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Front: Status lights, card reader
Back: Battery pack
Left: Kensington lock slot, cooling exhaust vent, Ethernet, VGA-out, 2x USB 2.0, microphone and headphone jacks
Right: 2x USB 2.0, DVD burner, AC power
Screen and Speakers
The Satellite L755's 15.6-inch display is rank-and-file for this price segment. Its glossy surface slightly increases contrast at the expense of creating glare from nearby and overhead light sources. Brightness is average; I hesitate to call it "bright" or "dark"; it's almost exactly in the middle. The display has a slightly cold or bluish tint to it which is typical for displays using LED backlighting (just about all notebooks do, nowadays). Viewing angles are narrow as expected for a TN-type panel like this one; colors wash out quickly when viewed from above and below.
The two stereo speakers located above the keyboard have surprisingly loud and clear sound and forego the traditional tinny characteristics of most notebooks' speakers. There is little bass. I like the fact they are located above the keyboard as opposed to being hidden under the palm rest; wrists won't get in the way of the sound while typing. Higher-end Toshiba Satellite notebooks have better harman/kardon speakers.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The L755 has a nice full-size keyboard with separate numeric keypad. This is a traditionally-styled keyboard; it does not have extra spacing between the keys like the increasingly-popular "Chiclet" keyboards (which are all the rage but don't actually help the typing experience). The keys are completely flat and have a glossy surface which shows fingerprints; there's not a place on this notebook that does not show fingerprints, as a matter of fact. The keys have a light feel and offer satisfactory tactile feedback. The key travel is a tad short (the distance between pressed and un-pressed positions) and robs the keyboard of some valuable tactile feedback. Nonetheless it is still pleasant to type on and has no noticeable flex. It's also extra quiet. Backlighting is not available on the L755 but is on higher-end Toshiba Satellite models.
The L755's touchpad is just big enough; it has a textured surface that is easy for fingers to track on. The two touchpad buttons have a chrome finish which magically turns into a fingerprint mess when touched. The buttons are too loud and can be heard from anywhere in a reasonably-sized room; ideally touchpad buttons should be almost silent. One feature I appreciate about the touchpad is the on/off button located directly above it.
Our Toshiba Satellite L755-S5258 review unit has the following configuration:
These specifications are almost lacking for a notebook priced at nearly $700. The included 640GB hard drive runs at a pokey 5400RPM and holds back overall performance. 4GB of RAM is the minimum these days; some similarly-priced notebooks offer 6GB. The 1366x768 screen resolution is the lowest offered in this screen size across the industry. The L755 just doesn't have anything above the bare essentials.
Performance and Benchmarks
The L755 performed well in our benchmarks. Anyone looking for a casual computing device should not be disappointed with its performance. The L755 is not good for the latest 3D games as configured since it has an integrated Intel graphics card, not a powerful Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon dedicated card. It's more than enough for everything else including HD video.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark which measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
The L755 does well in this area; it remains cool all over even while running resource-intensive applications such as Photoshop. The cooling exhaust vent is located on the left side of the notebook and occasionally expels warm air; most of the time the fan stays off. This makes sense as the L755's internal components produce little heat. The fan is for all intents and purposes inaudible.
The included battery powered the L755 for just three and a half hours during our standard battery rundown test (Windows 7 Balance power profile, 70% screen brightness, wireless active and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds). This is a subpar time for a notebook these days; most of the blame can be attributed to the L755's low-capacity 6-cell battery as it has just a 4200mAh/48Wh rating.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
The L755 fits the bill for a basic home computer but is uninspiring and ultimately tough to recommend because of its relatively high price. Its quality and feature set are as expected for a budget notebook and nothing more. The L755's highlights include a good keyboard and a decent set of speakers; it runs cool as well. It is fast enough for everything except 3D games.
The only aspect of the L755 I truly didn't like was the glossy plastic; every visible inch of the notebook is covered. It may look good on a display shelf but fails the real world practicality test; cleaning it is a full-time job. There's a distinct lack of advanced ports (no USB 3.0); the touchpad buttons are also too noisy; lastly its 3.5-hour battery life is less than expected (we were looking for at least an hour more).
The Toshiba Satellite L755 is difficult to recommend at its $689.99 MSRP; it's not an outstanding value by any stretch of the imagination mostly due to its barebones feature set and general lack of anything "extra". Find it on sale around the $550 mark and it becomes a more attractive deal; otherwise consider spending a tad more for a higher-end Toshiba Satellite with more features like a backlit keyboard and more stylish design.