Toshiba Satellite Pro S500 review

5 Jul 2010

An affordable business-orientated laptop offering great battery life if not the last word in speed

Toshiba Satellite Pro S500
Price when reviewed: 
555(£555 inc VAT)
4

Toshiba's Satellite Pro brand focuses on business use, and that's reflected not only in the choice of Windows 7 Professional but also in several design choices.

For a start, the Satellite Pro not only lacks a discrete GPU, it doesn’t even have an HDMI port – something you can normally take for granted these days. Mini-DisplayPort is offered, though, so you can hook up to a projector with ease, or attach an HDMI display with the right adaptor.

There’s also a full ExpressCard/54 slot, a fingerprint reader beneath the touchpad, a single button to enter Presentation (twin display) mode and a security tool based on facial recognition. The clicky keyboard bespeaks an expectation of serious use, but to us it feels a little too light and bendy. The diabolical speakers confirm that entertainment isn’t a priority here.

Oddly, Toshiba has gone with a glossy 15.6in display. It’s colourful, but we’d have expected a matte screen, as reflections can be intrusive and unhelpful in the workplace. We also note that the port at the bottom, for connection to a docking station, is blanked off; if you want this option, you'll need the Tecra A11.

Toshiba Satellite Pro S500

Performance-wise, the Satellite Pro aims low compared to consumer-targeted laptops for a similar price - one example being the Samsung R580 - with a Core i3-330M processor and a comparatively meagre 2GB of RAM. The hard disk tends towards the small side too, being a 250GB Hitachi unit.

Then again, that's still well equipped compared to most business-orientated machines, and the S500-10E's score of 1.13 in our benchmarks is more than fast enough for basic office tasks (by comparison, a 3.2GHz Pentium D PC scores 1.00).

But perhaps out-and-out speed doesn’t matter: an executive is more likely to be concerned with battery life, and here the Satellite Pro shines. With its whopping 5,100mAh battery, it lasted more than five hours in our light-use test, and even under heavy use it survived for 1hr 36min.

For a strictly office-based role, then, the S500 has several distinctive merits. If you really want a serious business laptop, though, it's worth checking out the more capable Tecra A11 range before investing.

Details

Price ex VAT £472
Price inc VAT £555
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 374 x 251 x 38mm (WDH)
Weight 2.550kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-330M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 1
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS545025B9A300
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TEAC DV-W28S-VT
Battery capacity 5,100mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.0mp
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 4min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 36min
Overall application benchmark score 1.13
Office application benchmark score 0.92
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.23
Encoding application benchmark score 1.17
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.21
3D performance (crysis) low settings 19fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied None