The Toshiba L40 seems to come in a variety of different models, each with different specs within the same outer casing. I have what seems to be the lowest end model, which on paper is just about good enough to run Windows Vista.
The build quality of this laptop is reasonably good, with no bit's falling off and it all appearing to be in one (relatively) solid piece. Having a 15.4 inch widescreen display, which is common in laptops nowadays, means that this is by no means a portable machine, although Toshiba appear to have tried to reduce the size with no overly large border around the display which would add unnecessary bulk. The keyboard seems to be of reasonable size, taking up most of the area available, the sizing appears no different from that of a desktop keyboard, the only real difference being that the keys have less "depth" when pressed. The trackpad is a fairly reasonable size, making navigation easy (although it takes a lot of getting used to after the huge glass one on my MacBook). The only thing, build wise, that could be improved about the laptop is the battery compartment, on mine the battery appears very loosely held - not enough for it to drop but, but enough to make it rattle. This isn't a problem when using it, just when you pick it up to move it the movement is noticeable, and it seems like Toshiba spent the time to put the rest of this together well, but saved money on the battery bay.
For a budget laptop the L40 looks reasonably well, albeit a bit childlike. The only real thing letting it down is that it looks like Toshiba went to a B&Q sale when choosing the colours, the bottom/front of screen frame is a dull matte black, fairly late 90's but it is robust and hide scratches. Then for the front frame (keyboard area) they have chosen a matte silver, which looks fairly good, contrasting with glossy black speaker surrounds, and a matte black keyboard surround. So far, so good. Then you close the lid, on here Toshiba have chosen a dull (almost navy) blue, along with (in big, bold letters) "TOSHIBA" written in white; that brings it to a total of 5 different colours/textures - all in just a laptop! To me it would have looked significantly better if Toshiba had chosen against the blue/white combination of the lid, since "TOSHIBA" is just painted on, rather than embossed/engraved it gives it a somewhat cheap feel, almost as if it would peel off if under heavy usage.
The installed operating system is Windows Vista Home Basic (now, that's a mouthful). Anyone who knows Vista (for short) will understand that it doesn't get along too well with anything running the minimum requirements, especially given the amount of "additional software" (which for all intents & purposes is absolutely useless) that comes pre-installed it makes turning on one of those go get a cuppa' moments. It isn't just Toshiba who does this, every pre-build desktop/laptop I have come across in the past few years has had a large amount of unnecessary software installed ... so I suppose it's a general problem. The first thing that I did was to remove all of this (if possible I would recommend just re-installing the operating system with an OEM disk, I tried this but my disk wouldn't accept the laptop's COA ... OEM licensing probably). Once this was all removed the laptop ran reasonably well, although I immediately upgraded with an extra 'gig of RAM, vastly improving performance.
I'd say battery life is reasonable, having managed to make this last 2 hours + using the "economy" power options, considering this is a laptop costing less than £300 I am pretty happy with that, since I usually use laptop's from the mains anyway, so it isn't a great factor to affect me.
It seems very easy to upgrade (almost) any component of this system, when I installed more RAM it was as simple as removing a few screws, opening a slot, and then popping it in. The same can be said about the Hard Drive, and even disk drive. In addition to this I believe that it may also be possible to upgrade the CPU, since the laptop is available with different processors it no doubt supports many others - meaning that it is almost as upgradable as a desktop computer.
For those of you who are interested Ubuntu/Linux compatibility is 100% with the latest version (9.04). All features work correctly, and you even get the basic desktop effects.
I'd say this is a good budget laptop for someone who may wish to upgrade in the future, it is a little outdated now, but this just means it will be cheaper and you would be able upgrade it to a level compared to more modern offerings.