Toshiba Satellite Pro A300 review
A workman-like business portable let down by a below-par display, leaving others to take the accolades.
Like HP's 6735s, Toshiba's Satellite Pro A300 is a budget laptop aimed at business users. And, yet again, it isn't half as dull as its installed copy of Windows Vista Business might suggest.
It might not boast the pristine gloss of Dell's Inspiron 1545, for instance, but that's no bad thing. Finished all in silver with just the odd dab of matte black here and there, the Toshiba in fact looks rather smart. This is matched by solid build quality, with hardly a hint of flex in the base. The screen hinge feels stiff and resilient too.
That strength does come at the expense of portability. The Satellite Pro A300 tips the scales at 2.73kg, and its heft is matched by merely average battery life. Just 3hrs 21mins of light usage saw the Toshiba run out of juice, a figure that dropped to a fraction over an hour in intensive conditions.
While we're focussing on the negatives, we weren't impressed by the display, either. The glossy 15.4in panel and native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels are all par for the course, but image quality was poor. Our test photos looked pale and skin tones were cold. Poor contrast made highlights overblown and bleached fine detail from photos.
The speakers are a different matter entirely. Despite the conspicuous absence of any hi-fi manufacturer endorsements, music was reproduced with ample volume and clarity was astounding given the budget price.
Ergonomically, there's nothing seriously amiss. The narrow Enter key and the light, plasticky keys take a bit of getting used to and the flexible base doesn't help matters. But it isn't unusable and the trackpad - complete with large, clicky buttons - worked well.
An Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3200 processor and 2GB of memory provide ample performance. A result of 0.90 put the Toshiba firmly in the middle of the pack. Graphics performance, as expected, was no great shakes with the Intel's GMA 4500M graphics achieving a mere four frames per second in our Crysis benchmark.
The A300 is a solid business laptop, but that's where its appeal ends. Ultimately, there's nothing that stands out, and it's bested in most areas by our award winners this month.
|Price ex VAT||£383|
|Price inc VAT||£440|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||4|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||362 x 267 x 39mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3200|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel GL40|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||800|
|Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 4500|
|Graphics card RAM||128MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Toshiba MK1652GSX|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||Matshita UJ880AS|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||N/A|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 21min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 7min|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.90|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||4fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery disc|