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Before I start I should probably mention I am a complete novice when it comes to anything technical. I'd been putting off doing this review because to be honest, anything too technical confuses me! So this review comes from a completely basic, 'what is it like to use' point of view, so don't be expecting any confusing jargon!
It was my husband that purchased this laptop. Having a degree in computing makes him much more qualified to chose a laptop than me and probably in fairness, he would probably do a much better review! We have a fancy desktop computer that does everything we want it to so wanted a basic but reliable laptop for both personal use, and for my husband to use to do any work he needs to. We wanted something portable as our desktop computer is in our spare bedroom so it's nice to be able to be in the same room when one of us needs to use it.
We paid around the £300 mark for the laptop, which I think is pretty much standard for a basic one. We didn't want to spend much more when we have a perfectly functional desktop if we want to do anything more technical.
It's not the lightest laptop in the world but considering it has a 15 inch screen it was never going to be as light and compact as the smaller ones. We mostly use the laptop in the house so its weight isn't particularly an issue for us, but for those wanting to use it when travelling, a more compact lightweight one may be more suitable. We've had a small netbook in the past that I could actually use when lying down by propping it up on my legs. You can't really do that with this laptop, it's too heavy and large so we tend to use it when sitting upright.
It's appearance is fairly typical of all laptops - black, sleek and shiny with the word Toshiba on the outer casing. It's basic but I don't think it needs any further design to it. It looks simplistic and classy.
The keyboard is laid out like your typical desktop keyboard in that it has the number pad to the right of the letters, whereas other laptops I've seen omit this feature. I find it handy because I'm used to using the number pad rather than the numbers situated above the letters at the top of the keyboard. The keys themselves are large enough to not be fiddly and annoying. They do make a slightly irritating clicking noise - our keyboard on the desktop computer is almost silent to use. According to my husband I'm just being fussy and almost all keyboards "click" unless they are touch pads, I think I must expect too much! We've had no problem with keys sticking or breaking - our old netbook had letter keys flying off left, right and center!
The mouse is your typical touch mouse which is situated slightly off center towards the left hand side of the keyboard. I find this irritating! If it was dead center you could avoid touching it when you type but because of it's location I find that my hand brushes it and ends up doing something it shouldn't! Other than that the mouse is easy to use providing you're used to a touch style mouse. My mum tried using it the other day while I was trying to show her pictures on facebook and she couldn't figure out how to use it. Saying that though, my mum is even more computer illiterate than me!
Toshiba claim that the battery life lasts up to 4 hours but we've found it runs out after about 3 hours. I'm assuming though it depends on what you're doing on there, and that watching films or playing games will use up the battery quicker. We try and make sure we charge the battery fully before unplugging it to ensure we don't reduce the battery life. With our old netbook we (OK...I!) used to let it charge for a bit and then unplug and eventually the battery became rubbish and would only last for 30 minutes.
As I mentioned early the screen is 15 inches which is a decent size. We've found that we can watch DVDs on there and the picture is clear and easy to see. We occassionally watch DVDs in bed on the laptop as I refuse to allow the mister to have a tv in our room, and I think if the screen was smaller we would struggle to watch something together.
The laptop has 2GB of memory which according to my husband is pretty average - nothing spectacular. However if you wanted to make it quicker or be able to store more on there you are able to add more memory upto 4GB. We find that the 2GB is enough for what we need the laptop for so haven't found the need to add more memory. It's relatively quick to load and doesn't take an age to start up.
The laptop has a card reader which is handy for us as we regularly transfer photos and videos from our digital camera so we can stick them on facebook. Our usb cable for our camera has decided to stop working so it's handy that we can transfer our files directly from the camera. There are also USB drives if you wish to transfer files that way, or attach externals such as game pads.
The laptop has a DVD / CD drive which is handy for popping in DVDs to watch. We can also burn CDs or DVDs which is handy for backing up our files or anything my husband needs for work.
It comes with built in speakers which again are adequate for what we need them for. The sound quality isn't perfect but then I don't think you can expect them to be. The sound can be a little tinny at times but nothing that would put us off watching DVDs on there.
It comes with Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, which unsurprisingly means absolutely nothing to me, but we've never had any problems with it, and it runs fine.
The laptop came with a 1 year warranty which is always great for added reassurance but *touch wood* the laptop has been reliable so far and we've not had any issues with it.
So to summarise, other than a few minor points, we've been really happy with this laptop. It's basic and simplistic which is perfect for a technophobe like me!