Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
Highly recommend laptop if portability isn't your thing
on 22 July 2014
tl;dr Even though the laptop has been discontinued by Toshiba, it is great value for money in terms of the features and specifications that it offers. However, it doesn't have a great screen and it's quite thick and heavy.
If you have any questions about it that I haven't answered in this lengthy review, then please feel free to ask.
Prerequisite: This review was made on the Intel Core i3-4000M version using the latest software, drivers and BIOS at the time of review.
Fast and battery efficient CPU and GPU
Plenty of high speed RAM
Fast start-up and shutdown times
Good battery life
Quick charge times
Sturdy build quality
Well laid out and easy to type keyboard
Modern Bluetooth adapter
HDMI out port
Fast USB 3.0 port
Quiet fan (very quiet)
Stays relatively cool under a heavy load
Low resolution screen (1366 x 768)
High gloss plastic attracts dust
No dual band Wi-Fi
No Gigabit Ethernet port
Poor sound quality
Low resolution webcam
Low quality audio recording
Toshiba pre-installed bloatware
Quite thick and heavy
Now for a more in-depth review which I'll separate into sections:
The Intel core i3-4000M processor is Intel's 4th generation of processors which is able to complete tasks very quickly and has handled everything that I've thrown at it. Web browsing is smooth and fast, using multimedia applications, watching videos, listening to audio is very pleasant with no stutters or slowdowns. Any standard graphical tasks are no problem for the laptop and it can even play some games at low settings. For example I've been able to play F1 2013 on low-medium settings averaging at 37 fps, which is acceptable. However, if you intend to game then this is not the laptop for you.
The 8GB of DDR3 RAM included in this laptop is more than enough for most 'regular' users and even enough for some `power' users. It can handle tasks that need a lot of memory such as Adobe Premier Pro with no problems.
The laptop comes with Windows 8 installed which is upgradeable to Windows 10. I won't say much about WIndows, there are plenty of in-depth reviews out there.
Using Windows fast boot (enabled by default) and fast boot in the BIOS, the laptop boots from off to the start screen in about 10 seconds and shuts down in about 13 seconds
The screen on this laptop is average. It's just as good quality as most of the other laptop screens at this price bracket. I think that 15.6" is the sweet spot for laptops as it gives enough real estate for content on-screen whilst still being relatively portable. The resolution is 1366 x 768 which just a bit better quality than 720p is (HD ready TVs). However, due to the screen resolution being fairly average it does help improve the performance of the laptop as it doesn't have to move around as many pixels which also helps battery life. So it is a compromise between quality and performance/battery life. The screen gets relatively bright
While the battery life isn't quite up to the 10+ hours from a latest gen MacBook Air or Pro, it is still good and lasts for about 4 hours of continual use for me (it will vary depending on use).
If you are using Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 you can open up the command prompt and paste this in:
powercfg /batteryreport /output %USERPROFILE%\Desktop\battery_report.html
This will generate a battery report on your desktop where you can find out all sorts of information about the battery of your current laptop/desktop.
Just a note, the battery charges very quickly, it takes about an hour to go from 0% to 100%
Overall I'd say the build quality is surprisingly good for a laptop of this price. I won't go into the aesthetics of this laptop too much as that is personal preference and can be seen from the pictures. Although I would say that the high gloss black around the keyboard and screen is a bit of a dust magnet. I'd have preferred a matte finish.
In the past a lot of laptops that I've used have had really poorly built power buttons for some reason which showed the lack of attention to detail. However, I'm glad to say that the power button on this laptop is better. It's big, 'clicky' and has a nice LED around it to show when the laptop is on.
The keyboard is another strong point of the laptop as it is also well-built with a good layout which makes typing quite easy, although it may not be for everybody as some may prefer a more 'clicky' keyboard.
The hinges on the screen seem relatively sturdy and the whole laptop seems like it could sustain a bit of a drop (haven't tested this though).
The trackpad is well positioned and the right and left buttons are sturdy and feel like they would last for a few years without getting stuck or loose. Just a note it requires you to hold the base of the laptop whilst you lift the lid open.
The Wi-Fi on this laptop is relatively good and has a maximum throughput of 150Mbps at 802.11n (a specification that most modern devices support). However I was disappointed to find out that the adapter wasn't dual band so I couldn't use the 5GHz network. Something I imagine that wasn't included to cut costs. The Wi-Fi range is good as I can pick up signal everywhere in the house and garden.
This laptop comes with built-in Bluetooth 4.0 LE which allows you to connect it to various Bluetooth devices such as a phone/tablet to transfer files, a speaker or headphones, and thanks to its support for Low Energy devices you can connect it to fitness accessories such as fitness bands, watches, etc.
A USB 3.0 port is included in this laptop (the blue one for those wondering) which allows for faster data transfer between external storage devices. With an external Toshiba USB 3.0 hard drive I am able to get 110MB/s read speeds and 85MB/s write speeds which is very fast compared to USB 2.0 speeds of 35MB/s read and 20MB/s write for the same drive. By the way this USB 3.0 port is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.
An Ethernet port is included in this laptop which allows you to connect to the internet via wire. I was disappointed with this to find out that it was not a Gigabit Ethernet port and was only 100Mbps. Having said that it becomes irrelevant if you connect to the internet via Wi-Fi all the time.
A good point about this laptop is that it has a HDMI port which allows you to connect it to an external display to either mirror or extend the content that is on the laptop screen. Great if you want to use the laptop as a media player for playing films through the TV.
The sound quality is poor but it is somewhat expected for a laptop of this price. It sounds very `tinny', has very little bass and the volume isn't all too loud either.
The webcam is also poor with low quality audio and pictures. The pictures taken are a mere 0.9MP which looks poor even in good lighting. The audio is recorded at 96 kbps and is mono, which doesn't sound very good. These are things that have had to be cut back to sell this laptop for such a good price. However the video quality is not too bad as it records at 1280x720 (720p HD) at 30fps.
Whilst gaming for a few hours I recorded the temperature of the CPU and it didn't go any higher than 66° Celsius which is a completely acceptable temperature. Bear in mind though that the CPU wasn't constantly at full load. A safe temperature is usually considered anything below 80° Celsius which I don't think this laptop would exceed.
The fan is very quiet, especially at idle and it is still quiet at full load. Very impressive.
The disc drive can read and write to CDs and DVDs and is relatively quiet in comparison to some other laptops.