Product Type: Toshiba laptops
Newest Review: ... like this pointing device – but I know that many others don’t. More amusingly, Toshiba has fitted four “mouse” bu... more
Solid unadventurous well-specified PC.
Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600
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Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600
Date: 15/05/01, updated on 15/05/01 (1398 review reads)
Advantages: Strong, solid, Apparently well built, Good connectivity
Disadvantages: Keyboard layout, Unadventurous, Heavy
This is my fifth laptop PC – but only the first to be “given” to me by an employer, rather than being chosen and paid for by me. It really is not what I would choose. I normally choose a smaller, lighter machine. But despite that, I quite like it. And while it is heavier than I would like it is no heavier than many other conventional laptops, and it is lighter than many such as the equivalent Sony Vaio.
Toshiba have a hugely wide product range, seemingly designed to fill every imaginable niche of the market. The Satellite Pro 4600 isn’t a model – it is a complete range, addressing (I think) the middle of the corporate market. Mine runs a 650MHz Celeron, a 9.3GB disk, and it has Windows 2000; but other combinations are available. Many others.
In appearance, it struggles to avoid anonymity. Only an artfully curved slice of brushed alloy on the two-tone grey lid distinguishes it from other makes. The alloy bears the name “TOSHIBA” carefully positioned so that it is UPSIDE DOWN for anyone sitting opposite you when you use it! Oh well… Actually, now I look more closely, the lid isn’t two tones of grey, it is three tones; but two of the colours are so similar that I bet Toshiba meant them to be the same. Hmmm…
The features are good. The screen is large (though it has one permanently-on pixel, which should not be there). It will be perfect for presentations. There are microphones and two speakers built in, and the pointing device uses one of those little bendy sticks in the keyboard, instead of the more usual trackpad below the keyboard. I am lucky there, as I like this pointing device – but I know that many others don’t. More amusingly, Toshiba has fitted four “mouse” buttons – there are two small buttons above the two conventional large buttons. Why, do Tosh engineers suppose that four buttons are twice as good as two? I don’t.
The driver software allows you to configure the two extra buttons to do some potentially useful things, like “copy” or “paste” and some entirely un-useful ones like “explore my computer” and “cyberjump” [no, I didn’t make that up]. I am still not convinced, but I suppose we have to allow these Japanese designers some freedom to try to improve the human-computer interface, even though they rarely succeed.
The keyboard is mainly OK for feel, though I would like to be able to angle it a bit (you can’t). I have no difficulty with the size, touch, key travel and so on. The space bar looks small, but turns out to be 100% OK. The keyboard layout, though, is poor. I thought at first Toshiba had followed IBM’s maverick example by not including a “Windows” or “Start” key; eventually, I noticed it sitting at the exact opposite end of the keyboard to where you expect it. Yes, Toshiba has placed the Start key at (nearly) top right of the keyboard instead of bottom left. And to my mind, the Del key is poorly placed, three quarters of the way along the bottom row. Five out of ten for the keyboard, Toshiba.
Connectivity is above average, as it jolly well should be for a PC this heavy. I have two PC-card slots, two USB ports (hooray – more than one!), a parallel port, a serial port, a proprietary docking port, a socket for an external monitor or projector, some sort of video port I don’t know about, a PS/2 mouse/keyboard socket, infrared, microphone in and sound out sockets. Strangely, the docking port has a port cover – but none of the other sockets have covers of any kind, so the PC doesn’t look too good around the ports – but on the other hand there is less to break off or lose.
In addition to the ports, there is a diskette drive, a DVD-ROM drive, modem and a 100Mbps network adapter, all built in. Really the only luxury mi
ssing is a FireWire port, and most users don’t want those yet. I’m not sure whether the DVD drive is removable, so if you want to install a CD-RW drive you would have to check.
The overall feel and look of the construction is good. The lid feels good when you open it, the screen does not flop around (even during the bumpy train journey in which I am typing this) and there are neat screws holding down all the removable bits in the base save for the battery. It feels solid, and looks safe and unadventurous accordingly.
Performance is good on mains power. With the same amount of RAM as my desktop 1,000MHz Pentium, this laptop actually feels faster for some tasks, notably starting up Microsoft Word. I think that is thanks to running Windows 2000 rather than Windows Me though. When running on batteries, it is still quick, though much less so. To be more accurate, you can control how fast you want it to be on batteries, to control the battery life. So far, I have not managed to exhaust the battery, so I can’t say how long it can run… my impression is that the battery life is good. But, I wish it would wake up faster from suspend mode (the mode it assumes when you close the lid); 14 seconds seems like an eternity for a PC this fast to wake up.
As I said, this seems to be a corporate PC. It feels solid, unadventurous, and reliable. It will do the job I want it to do, and probably for a long time. Its just as well that I like the machine and that I get on well with it, as I won’t be able to justify a (smaller) replacement for a long time.