In choosing a computer, there are times when you want all the gadgets and gizmos it can have, but there are also times when you just want a simple workhorse. If you are looking for the workhorse, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L500 will be a good choice.
This Satellite comes with a clear and crisp 15.4 inch TruBrite widescreen display that has good viewing angles. The 1280 x 800 screen resolution may not suit those who like to keep many windows on the screen, but it is perfect for the average user. The mat black full-sized keyboard has clearly marked keys and an excellent feel. The black keyboard is surrounded by a mat silver surround that incorporates a responsive touchpad. Multi-tasking is no problem with this laptop’s Intel Centrino processor technology and Core 2 Duo processors. (The L500 can also be purchased in an AMD dual core processor configuration.) It has built-in 802.11 a/b/g wireless support.
Although this laptop doesn’t have a fingerprint reader or bright color exteriors, it does have just about everything that you need for everyday computing. The built-in webcam with 3.0 megapixel resolution and the built-in microphone are useful tools. The Webcam is especially easy to use, just move your cursor to the left side of the screen, and the webcam software pops up allowing you to start the camera, control the settings and add fun effects.
There is a memory card reader for SD cards and Memory Sticks. The 160 GB hard drive (5400rpm) is large enough for most business and/or home use. My test unit came with 2 GB (PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM) memory, which is plenty for the Windows XP Professional operating system that came pre-installed. The L300 is also available with Vista Business with the downgrade media necessary for Windows XP Professional. This is a great feature that gives you the best of both worlds. Try Vista and if [you don’t like it, go back to XP at no additional cost.
This Toshiba L500 comes with a DVD-SuperMulti drive which supported every format I threw at it. It also has a modem, 10/100 Ethernet port, stereo speakers, and a PC ExpressCard slot. It has three USB ports. I really like the fact that it has two USB ports on one side and one on the other. This gives you the choice of using whichever side is more convenient. For instance, if you are left-handed and use a USB mouse, you can attach it to the left side of the computer. If you are right-handed, you can use the ports on the right. This is something that all laptop manufacturers should take note of.
The only useful thing missing was built-in Bluetooth. There is also no S-Video or HDMI port, but this is not surprising. The XP Professional and/or Vista Business operating system is aimed more at business use rather than home entertainment use.
The software that came with the computer included the Toshiba Disc Creator, Google Picasa™, InterVideo® WinDVD®, Toshiba ConfigFree, which is a utility to help you connect to Wi-Fi networks. The Toshiba Recovery Disc Creator is also installed with an icon on the desktop. However, I was never prompted to create the disks, which is a reminder that most users will need to remember to make the recovery disks well before they need them.
There are also two 60-day trial pieces of software, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 and Norton 360™ All-In-One Security.
In normal everyday use, the Toshiba was strong and sturdy. I enjoyed the mat finish which always looked professional and didn’t attract fingerprints. The computer also performed well, even for intensive graphic tasks and multi-tasking. Benchmarks done by others rate the L300 average in performance. At 5.7 lbs. it is a little heavy, but still tote able.
The battery life is adequate. Expect to get 2-4 hours depending on the screen brightness that you prefer and if wireless is enabled or disabled. The L300 is wonderfully quite and doesn’t seem to generate much heat. All-in-all, it is a good, solid performer that is quite and sturdy.
Reviewed: Toshiba Satellite Pro L500 L300-EZ1005X
• Good design
• Full-size keyboard
• Crisp, clear screen
• Easy-to-access ports
• Webcam & microphone
• Somewhat heavy
• No Bluetooth
• Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 2.1GHz processor
• 2GB RAM DDR2
• Intel X3100 Integrated Graphics
• 160GB (5400 rpm) hard drive
• Windows XP Professional
• 15.4″ WXGA 1280×800 screen
• Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g)
• 10/100 Ethernet LAN
• VGA-15 pin
• DVD-SuperMulti drive (+/-R double layer) supporting up to 11 formats
• ExpressCard Slot
• SDCard Slot
• 3x USB 2.0
• Stereo headphone and mono microphone jack
• Integrated Webcam
• Lithium Ion battery
• Weight: 5.7lbs
• Retail Price: $899