Toshiba has always had a history of producing decent quality laptops that last and feel well built. This laptop is no exception. Whilst the laptop is, by no means, the most powerful machine around, it definitely does pack some decent hardware.
I think Toshiba’s idea was to create a light entertainment machine that wouldn’t cost the Earth. It seems to do that pretty well – considering it has a dedicated 2GB nVidia graphics card, Harmon/Kardon speakers and built in Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless N Wi-Fi for easy streaming.
However, it’s not all high spec hardware. After all, the machine only has a 2.3Ghz dual core Core i3 processor. Whilst the rest of the hardware in the laptop makes the slower processor unnoticeable, you’d think they’d have looked a bit higher for something that originally cost £600.
Thankfully, the price has since fallen to £500, which I believe is far more reasonable.
The laptop will cater for the average person’s entertainment desires pretty well. The 2GB nVidia GT630M will handle most pre-2012 games at high quality settings without breaking a sweat – and even 2012 games will run if you’re prepared to sacrifice a bit of quality. I tested the machine with GTA IV, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Just Cause 2 – all of which played really well, even at high settings. That, paired with the Harmon/Kardon speakers – which provide a really good audio experience with fairly good bass and treble (especially for a laptop), make games and HD films a pleasure to play/watch. With the bonus of a 640GB hard drive, you aren’t likely to run out of storage for your multimedia.
And for those that need to travel, it’s got you covered too. Battery life is fairly good – expect 4-5 hours of use when browsing or word processing. You’ll even get a couple of hours of gaming out of the battery – but watch the laptop doesn’t overheat when fans are throttled by power management (but rest assured it will shut down if it does get too hot). The device isn’t too heavy to carry around either. At 2.6kg it’s hardly light, but it’s not something that would be too heavy to take to work or commute with. The lid of the laptop has a very smart looking aluminium finish which will stand out in the office, too.
There are a couple of issues. There seems to be a bit too much movement in the keyboard when typing heavily – which doesn’t seem fragile but I would have liked it to be a bit more sturdy. Also, don’t be surprised when you find the laptop full of bloatware from the start – although not all of it is useless. Things like McAfee security can be binned straight away (get Microsoft Security Essentials instead) – however tools like Toshiba’s Sleep and Charge can be a lifesaver.
Sleep and Charge is a utility that’s been bundled with Toshiba laptops for some time now. Basically, two of your four USB3 ports (yes that’s right – four USB3 ports) are programmed so that when you shut down, sleep or hibernate the laptop, the ports remain on. This means you can plug in your phone or MP3 player into the port and charge it off your laptop battery. There’s also a similar tool for the onboard speakers – plug your MP3 player into the 3.5mm mic jack while the device is off and make use of your nice speakers.
Overall, I think that at £500 you won’t get much better in terms of an entertainment laptop. Yes, it has it’s few minor issues – but overall it has all the hardware to keep you entertained for hours on end. I’m really impressed with it, and with a brand like Toshiba I can be confident it’ll be working well for years to come.