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This is now an ageing model so anyone looking at reviews I'd expect to be considering purchase on a second-hand basis. Toshiba have always been 'workhorses' rather than super-build quality so take a close look at the particular machine you're thinking of buying, see it in operation, and haggle the price down to real bargain level. My own experience is that my Satellite 1410 is still in active service after several years of constant use, but does need a few prosthetics to help it along. The screen, big and non-reflective matt, has packed in - or rather the illuminating element behind it, repair is apparently uneconomical but I plug a Samsung external monitor into the VGA socket and I'm back in business ! I run Windows XP and with the 1410's processor and small amount of RAM certainly wouldn't recommend Vista. If I didn't need some windows-only software I'd switch to Linux, but as it is the 0.5MB RAM just about copes. Keyboard, though a bit dusty by now, is still a joy to use. One of the three USB ports (v1 only) is taken up by a mouse (although the touchpad is okay for short tasks), and another by a big external hard disk to make up for the 1410's very limited capacity by current standards.
I enjoy my job but each year as my colleagues in industry relate their job related bonuses I feel a little disheartened. You see, as a teacher there are no Christmas bonuses in the pay package, my company car still has not arrived and despite asking for it annually since performance targets were introduced I still do not have private health cover for myself and family. However, a little over twelve months ago I had cause to celebrate and revel in the pleasure of a benefit that even some colleagues in industry thought was a fairly decent bonus ? I received a laptop under the government?s Laptops for Teachers initiative. This scheme has changed so many times since it was first conceived that it is difficult to understand the exact nature of the scheme until you read your own contract. Mine was simple ? go to city council offices, collect laptop, use as my own until I leave my current employment then hand back to school. There was of course initial joy ? this was great! So, let?s take a look at the Toshiba 1400 that I received under this scheme and analyse how it has coped with daily usage for over a year. THE SPECIFICATION I?m not going to cover all of the specification here or this opinion will cease to be an opinion and start to resemble pages torn from the yellow pages. Here, however, are the essentials. Screen size: 14.1? DVD-ROM USB1.0 ports located at the rear Celeron 1.33 processor 256Mb RAM 20Gb Hard drive 32Mb Graphics with 3D acceleration on board Front panel of media control including DVD controls and headphone and microphone sockets. 3.5? floppy drive 2 PCMCIA slots THE LOOKS Like most Satellites in the Toshiba catalogue this has a pleasing black design. The glide pad is in front of the keyboard with space to the left and right for those not touch typing to rest their wrists. Behind the keyboard is the main on/off switch and an information button linking to the online docum entation. The screen comes with various power saving settings but is adequately bright and comfortable on the eyes when used for prolonged periods, as indeed are most TFT screens. THE OVERSIGHT Having collected my laptop I rushed home and immediately copied across ten years of planning and resources. Hardly a blip on the new 20Gb hard drive so this was looking good. I deleted everything from my old computer and handed it over to the children for their bedroom and hopefully some word processed homework. About a month later when I came to switch on my lovely new laptop ? nothing. An error message telling me there was no boot disk available. Mmmm, can?t see the hard drive. I desperately needed the machine for the following week and contacted the LEA who had supplied the machine. Laptops for Teachers is just that though and I was instructed that it is up to me to ensure the machine is up and running at all times and therefore whatever repair was needed must be carried out but that no responsibility lay with my school or LEA ? any costs were mine also. This is under warranty though so no problem ? contact Toshiba. Unfortunately this is a back to base warranty and the postage costs rest with the owner. Aargh! I chose to drive the hour journey to drop off the computer at the authorised agent who consoled me with the fact that their entire business is pretty much based on warranty hard drive replacements for Toshiba. Apparently, they were also agents for Sony and had pretty much forgotten what a Sony laptop looked like having never seen them in for repair. Having been made to look foolish for not spending the thirty pounds extra that would have put in a CD writer, (not my choice remember) they proceeded to inform me that to copy the data over from one hard drive to another would cost eighty pounds, not covered by warranty and if they had to dismantle the hard drive to do this it would need to go to a special laboratory of which there are only a couple in th e country and the cost would be from four hundred pounds upwards. (Zero particle laboratories are apparently expensive to run.) The machine was fixed, and eighty pounds lighter I still had my data. A further one hundred pounds down the line I also had the necessary external CD writer to back up my data. This sounds awful but in reality I would never have purchased the machine without a CD writer so I guess the problem wouldn?t have been nearly so significant. Since then the machine has run without fault. THE USER EXPERIENCE I enjoy this machine and it is adequate for my needs. I do hours of work each week including some web site development in Flash MX 2004 and the machine does cope with this. The screen resolution is only just adequate for some of the later software as they rely on higher resolutions for displaying the necessary toolbars. The maximum resolution is 1024 x 768 so it is fine but compared to today?s new machines, slightly under specced now. I find this laptop comfortable to work at and the screen quality is sufficient to not ache my eyes after hours of use which is usually the problem with CRT screens. I am just now beginning to push on the edge of the hard drive space which next to more recent computers looks slightly meagre. I am also stretching the memory and graphics capabilities with the use of the latest version of Macromedia Flash. I would say I will get about a further twelve to eighteen months out of this machine before I go and purchase a replacement and hand it in to school for whatever use it will then be put to. THE PRICE The machine was purchased for £800 just over twelve months ago. This was a reasonable price for it at the time but as is always the case, the same money now buys so much more. This is no longer available from new but second hand I would expect it to cost about £300. OVERALL I like the machine. It has worked hard for twelve months and I have grown to enjoy using it. The ha rd drive issue is it seems one that many Toshiba users suffer from so it may well be worth ensuring there is a backup device of some sort installed at purchase. The memory and graphics chip are the first to look slightly dated and the hard drive capacity is close behind. I think this is probably true of all computers though so I do not have any issues with this. Personally I think the lack of flexibility in upgrades for laptops does not make them ideal for home use and if I wasn?t taking this backwards and forwards between home and school so much I would look for a desktop. Had this been a desktop, a couple of hundred pounds would have it looking like it may survive a further two years before being replaced. As it is, I expect about another year before I need to upgrade. The machine has been therefore fair value for money but could have been better and I keep thinking back to the disheartening hard drive problem in the first month. I would recommend this machine if it had the optional CD writer installed but would find it difficult to recommend without. Thank you for reading and I hope the balance between experience and specification helps with your future purchases.