Toshiba Satellite A200-180 review

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There are some surprisingly stylish notebooks in this Labs, few more so than the Toshiba Satellite A200-180 with its boy-racer appearance. From the array of blue lights on the front, which stay visible even with the lid closed, to the speaker grilles behind the keyboard, it’s souped up to look much more than its £505 price tag would suggest.

Toshiba Satellite A200-180 review

The two-tone black and silver design inside gives way to a dark blue outer lid, which provides ample protection for the 15.4in display. The latter is a glossy 1,280 x 800 screen, and we were impressed with its brightness and sharpness, although it’s a little too reflective for use under bright lights.

The keyboard feels a little odd at first, with clicky, shallow keys. After a few minutes’ use, however, it’s surprisingly comfortable, feels spacious and has a sensible layout. The mouse buttons are a little flimsy, but overall the build quality feels robust enough to cope with the pressures of daily use. The speakers, meanwhile, are undoubtedly the loudest of the group, so we can forgive those unsightly grilles.

Inside, the Toshiba continues to impress. A 120GB hard disk offers plenty of storage, there’s a fast DVD writer, a 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen and you also get an external volume dial. Wireless support is for 802.11a/b/g, while the card reader supports the xD-Picture format and an ExpressCard/54 slot sits on the left side.

Performance, on the other hand, is ordinary thanks to the combination of an older 1.86GHz Intel Core Duo T2350 with just 1GB of RAM. All this results in a benchmark score of 0.71, which puts the Toshiba firmly in the middle of the pack. Battery life is another stumbling block – three hours under light-use conditions, and barely past one when pushed to the limit.

If you’re looking for a home laptop to use as an entertainment player on your travels, the Toshiba trumps all comers this month. But as an all-round mid-sized laptop, we prefer the Compaq.

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