A home laptop with the looks – but does it have the brawn?
There’s no denying that the Toshiba Satellite L655D 12K, exclusive to Dixons and PC World, stands out from the crowd.
The bold, bright and garish red finish will divide opinion as to whether it looks stylish or tacky but it’s certainly different. It’s also available in no-less-shocking pink and white.
We weren’t too keen on the way it looks, but we were certainly impressed with the quality of the finish. Things inside were also well put together: the keyboard was not the most pleasant that we have found to type on (the keys felt a little too loose), but it was comfortable enough and looked the part too.
The touchpad below it has a matte finish which makes it ever so slightly rough with a bobbled effect differentiating it from the surrounding case plastic. We found it to be very responsive, though, and it supports multi-touch gestures so you can draw on it with two fingers to scroll, zoom and rotate. The gestures worked well, though because the touchpad was small they were tricky to perform.
The specifications are decent: it has an AMD Athlon II X2 P320 processor, which is a mobile model using relatively old technology. Still, with 3GB of memory the computer is easily capable of dealing with office and internet tasks as well as tasks such as photo editing. It also has a 500GB hard disk for storage and a DVD writer for creating and playing CDs and DVDs.
The ATI Radeon HD 4250 graphics card was a bit of a letdown, struggling with gaming graphics, though it coped more easily with high-definition video playback.
The 15.6in widescreen display was bright and clear, and big enough for watching films without making everything seem too small.
It also has some nifty built-in features: pressing down the Fn key displayed a list of options to mute the sound, lock the computer and turn the wireless networking capability and touchpad on or off – the latter is very handy if you have a USB mouse and want to avoid accidentally brushing the touchpad with your hands while typing.
We were surprised to see that the L655D comes with a slightly odd collection of software: it comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, with which we’d normally expect to see the Office 2010 Starter package, which includes cut-down but permanent versions of Word and Excel.
Instead it came with Microsoft Works and a trial of Office 2007, both of which are out-dated and more limited than the newer programs. There’s a lot of other software that comes pre-installed, much of which isn’t particularly worth having. Some is, though, such as the program that controls power-saving levels.
In terms of connections, the Toshiba is well equipped. Alongside the standard headphone and microphone ports, there are also VGA and HDMI connections for attaching a monitor or a flat-panel TV, there’s an eSata port for attaching external hard disk and it can connect to wired and wireless networks. However, considering its size and bulk, we were disappointed to find it only had three USB sockets. There is a memory card reader, though.
The L655D’s size, 2.8kg weight and three-hour battery life mean it’s not really portable.
At £500 this is a decent laptop for general home use, and while it’s OK for entertainment the underpowered graphics mean it’s not good enough for video editing, so it’s not quite the full Monty of an all-round home performer.
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This underwhelming and hefty notebook has reasonable computing power, but not enough to be good value Good points Fast and reasonably powerful Bad points Heavy and big; poor battery life
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