Monday, September 29, 2008

Toshiba Satellite Pro L300 first looks

As part of my team's win in the international ThinkQuest website design competition, we each received a laptop from Oracle! This 700USD laptop is a Toshiba Satellite Pro L300, a 15.4 inch widescreen business machine.

The model name is a bit of a misnomer... although is says 'pro', the truth is this is a simple, no frills, budget notebook. But don't get me wrong, the L300 is an affordable and serious machine with respectable features for its price.

But first, this is how it looks: grey lid, un-funky colours, very typical business laptop...

The L300 retails with a variety of technical configurations, including an AMD version (yuck) and the normal Intel chips. My model is an Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.0GHz, with a standard 1GB 667MHz RAM, standard 160GB 5400rpm HDD, and lousy integrated graphics that I can't even remember.

On the Windows Experience Index, the L300 had a (pathetic) lowest subscore of 3.0, thanks to the graphics chipset which won't run Aero well. The harddisk yielded the best subscore of 5.2, while processor got a 4.9. I'll be upgrading this thing to 3GB RAM soon; 1GB is anything but sufficient.

Nonetheless, there are some positive things about this machine. Firstly, the 15.4 inch widescreen is one of the better ones I've seen for this price range. It's big, bright and clear, making it absolutely gorgeous to view photos. There is also a SD/memory stick card slot in front! And it is blessed with 3 USB ports, a well designed keyboard and a DVD RW drive.

Battery life is average at around 3 hours, and so is its weight. While it doesn't feel heavy like stone, it is not very light either. You wouldn't want to use this as a mobile road warrior, as it is quite big in size, but I can imagine this on the office table for general usage. When I start to nitpick, I would wish this was much thinner, the screen less thick, and the mouse button less stiff. Other than that, this is your standard laptop but with solid construction, good ergonomics and some very useful features.

On the software side, this L300 came pre-installed with Vista Business edition, which is the right way to go. Although Toshiba offers an XP Pro version, I think Vista is the future and everyone should run Vista. It's more secure, has more functionality, and from an aesthetics standpoint, more eye-candy.

What I wasn't too pleased about was the preloaded junk programs. The Toshiba DVD software stuff is fine, but what isn't fine is Picasa 2 photo editing software (I'll never use that), the Google Desktop search and toolbar in IE, and some other crap that I can't remember. This is bad... these unnecessary software clutter up the machine, take up disk space, slow down performance, and I won't use those programs!! It also does come with Norton 360 60 day trial, which is more acceptable since I'd want to use that, and also Office 07, which is fine too, but apart from that, the other bloatware isn't acceptable! Toshiba should learn from Sony and allow customers to opt out of these software and just have the OS installed.

You might feel differently about the extra software, and you may like it for the added functionality out of the box, but not for me. I like to install what I want to use. But overall, this is a truly utilitarian laptop, not outstanding but gets the job done. And for the low asking price, this is perhaps one of the better 15 inch widescreen business notebooks around.

Strictly NOT for gaming!

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