Product Type: Toshiba laptops
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A quality laptop at a budget price
Toshiba Satellite L350-172
Member Name: Craggybuk
Toshiba Satellite L350-172
Advantages: Nice big 17 inch screen
Disadvantages: Fairly bulky to carry
We had always promised my daughter a laptop for a combined birthday / Christmas present so when the Toshiba L350 became available at PC world with on a buy now, pay nothing for 12 months deal we decided to go for it. As, by this time she would have accrued enough money to pay for it, we were not worried by PC World's extortionate interest rate repayments. We promptly ordered the laptop online via PC World's reserve and collect scheme and as we also went through Quidco, we managed to get around £20 cashback too making the deal even better for us.
Unboxing the laptop
On getting the laptop home, it was left to me to set it up for her. On opening the box, the laptop was sealed in a protective foam. Attached to this was a leaflet recommending that I read the quick start guide before powering up for the first time. This guide took me through the obvious stages of turning the power on, waiting for Windows to configure itself for the first time, etc, etc. This guide would be useful for anyone who had never used a computer before but for most people, they would be capable of performing the setup without any instructions. Along with the laptop we got a comprehensive user manual which we haven't had the need to use and the mains power adaptor. It is worth noting that this laptop does not come with an emergency restore dvd. You are expected to make your own copy. While this is easy enough for me to do, I do feel that a company like Toshiba should be providing this as standard to help the less computer literate user.
Tour of the laptop
The laptop comes with a 17 inch screen which is slightly bigger than the average 15.6 screen. Obviously this will make the laptop case bigger than normal (something that is worth remembering when buying a carrying case) but personally, I do prefer the bigger laptop as it has many more advantages than just a bigger screen. For example, there is a proper numeric keypad instead of having to use the function (fn) key and press another key as you have to on smaller laptops which confuses me no end. The is a quality webcam built into the lid of the laptop, just above the LCD screen, this is very clear and has given my daughter hours of pleasure talking to her friends and grandparents. There is also a built in microphone allowing for full duplex voice calls.
On the top panel above the keyboard is the on/off power switch which needs to be held down for a couple of seconds to switch the laptop on. Alongside this are some useful buttons when either watching a dvd or listening to a music cd. These allow you to change the track/scene, pause the playback or adjust the volume, all without the need to use any software which is a nice touch but not really a major selling point in my opinion.
Underneath the keypad is the standard touch sensitive mousepad and the left and right mouse buttons. I have to say, as someone who has never got on with touch sensitive mousepads, I find this one really quite simple to use. It is not over responsive where you only have to go near it for the cursor to be jumping over the screen but it does go where it is intended most of the time.
On the left hand side of the laptop there is a VGA output, allowing the laptop to be connected to a PC monitor or projector screen. Next to this there is as standard Ethernet connector which enables the laptop to be connected to any wired network. I have connected via this manner on numerous occasions and have never had a problem. Finally for this side of the laptop, there are 2 usb 2.0 ports which don't really need any explanation. My daughter usually uses one of these for an external mouse when the laptop is on her desk.
On the other side of the laptop there is the power connector, the DVD rewriter drive and another usb 2.0 port for good measure.
The front of the laptop also has built in functionality too. There is a wireless enabled/disabled button which threw the first time I tried to connect to the internet as I assumed it was on by default. If I had read that manual, I'd have known that it wasn't. Along side this is a headphone and microphone socket if you need to install an external mic, plus another volume control dial.
Using the laptop
First impression, as it would be with any new computer was how fast it loaded up, as this was the first time we had seen Vista, we took the recommended tour and soon got bored with this so decided to explore ourselves. Vista gives everything in the system a rating between 0 and 5.9. The closer the overall rating is to 5.9, the higher the spec of the machine is. This machine scored 3.2 as the final scored is always the same as the weakest component. In this case, as it would be in most laptops, it is the graphics card. Whilst it is perfectly adequate for internet browsing and word processing, you are not going to be playing the latest Grand Theft Auto game on here at the highest detail, laptops are not designed for that.
The laptop is very responsive, even now after having loads of girly software and smiley emoticons (and no doubt, countless other rubbish) downloaded onto it. I have even been known to borrow the laptop myself when I would rather sit and browse with the family instead of taking myself off to the study.
Battery life is pretty standard for laptops. When connected wirelessly to the internet, you can expect around 2 hours of life before the laptop switches off. Disabling the wireless signal will significantly increase the amount of uptime you have before needing to use the mains adaptor.
My daughter loves this laptop and I have to say, as an IT specialist, it really is a nice piece of kit. It is simple to use and even now, over a year after we bought it, it is still fairly speedy. It comes with 3GB of RAM which runs Vista Home Premium very smoothly and the 160Gb hard disk is more than big enough for my daughter although, if you want to store vast amounts of songs, photos or videos then you might find that it is a little on the small side. As the laptop boasts a 17 inch screen, my daughter does struggle to carry the laptop between floors so bear this in mind if you are thinking of purchasing for a small child. Touch wood, she hasn't dropped it yet!
We paid £399 for this laptop which I think is super value as, at the time there were many more that were priced higher but seemed a lot lower in specification. If you can still find the laptop at this price I would seriously recommend buying it.
Summary: Great laptop for the price
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