Toshiba’s less than speedy notebook

The Toshiba Satellite A215-S4757 is the first Toshiba laptop with an AMD processor instead of an Intel one. It has heaps of features, including a 250GB hard drive, but its performance could be better.

At US$1000 (as of 9/12/07), our test unit sported a nice configuration for the money. It had a DVD burner, a full range of ports (including FireWire), and both an ExpressCard slot and a three-in-one memory card slot for easy digital camera downloads. At 6.2 pounds (minimum weight), the Satellite A215-S4757 is light enough to move from room to room or take on a trip.

The modern, one-piece dropped hinge means you don’t have to look at ugly supports when the laptop lid is open, and the keyboard layout is first-rate. In the black accent panel topping the keyboard are seven handy buttons for turning on the notebook, launching your favorite browser, and controlling CDs and DVDs.

I found some design quirks I didn’t like, however. The key tops are huge, almost too chunky for small hands. The volume wheel is annoying, as well. While a volume wheel is usually convenient to have, our test unit’s wheel lacked a hard stop when increasing the volume; the wheel just turned and turned as if broken, and I couldn’t be certain I had reached maximum volume without checking a screen gauge.

Performance was underwhelming. While the machine is zippy enough for answering e-mail, Web surfing, and word processing, the A215-S4757’s overall WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 60 put it in a tie with an Asus A8JR-4P021C for the lowest mark among 13 recently tested laptops, and is almost 20 percent behind the average score of 74. The battery lasted 2.3 hours on one charge, about an hour shorter than the average of 3.2 hours for this laptop class. You can buy a nine-cell battery pack for an extra $135.

Toshiba’s Satellite A215-S4757 is far from the speediest notebook on the block, but if you need a second or third inexpensive family PC to keep everyone happy, you could do a lot worse.

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