Toshiba Satellite L20-196 review

£483
Price when reviewed

If there’s one thing Toshiba does well, it’s notebooks. The Satellite L20 may not be the firm’s flagship laptop, but it still exhibits plenty of the Toshiba qualities we’ve come to know and love.

Toshiba Satellite L20-196 review

One is weight and, despite being the same size as others here and offering the same features, it’s lighter than all of them. At 2.55kg and 34mm thick, it doesn’t fit into the thin-and-light bracket, but if you’re carrying it around everywhere, you’ll appreciate any weight saving.

There’s a fairly good TFT attached to the L20 too. It’s a 15in 1,024 x 768 display as per the norm this month, but it’s bright and delivers a decent amount of contrast. The L20 is one of the more stylish models here too.

The keyboard is as comfortable to type on as the Lenovo’s and has the Ctrl key sensibly in the bottom corner. Above the keyboard are music playback controls, and the front-mounted speakers offer a decent volume.

Under the bonnet is a Celeron M 370 CPU – not the fastest on test but more than adequate for undemanding users. It has access to 512MB of PC2-4200 memory, which helped to boost the overall 2D score to 0.63. It’s still behind the Lenovo with its Pentium M, which managed 0.76.

Thankfully, Toshiba includes a DVD writer (unlike Lenovo) and it can write to both DVD+R9 and DVD-R9 discs. The 60GB Toshiba hard disk is a welcome sight too, especially as it has a 5,400rpm spindle speed while others are 4,200rpm.

Ports are fairly well catered for with three USB 2 connectors, a Type II PC Card slot, 10/100 Ethernet and modem plus VGA and S-Video outputs. It’s only a shame that there’s no media card reader or FireWire. Infrared is noticeable by its absence too, but there’s an Atheros 802.11b/g WLAN radio for wireless connections.

Unfortunately, there’s an Achilles heel to be aware of: battery life. Under intensive use, we found the L20’s 2,000mAh unit lasted only an hour, and light use only increased this by 30 minutes – not an impressive showing. There’s no carry case included either.

However, if you’re not intending to use your notebook on the move, this isn’t a big problem, and more compensation comes in the form of a one-year international collect-and-return service. Plus, the Satellite remains almost silent when the fans kick in – we measured less than 27dBA.

Ultimately, though, despite the relatively low price, you can get a better deal than the L20-196. In particular, the Elonex offers a better specification and longer battery life for only £6 more including delivery.

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