* Prices may differ from that shown
Two years ago, I embarked on my journey to University. Before going, however, I needed to find a new laptop to get me through the 3 year course. There are so many laptops on the market, I had no idea where to begin! All I knew was that I needed a reliable, durable laptop that will last 3 years, had a good amount of memory to fit both my Uni and personal things on, but also had a relatively good processor/graphics card (I'm a big gamer). So basically, I needed a laptop that can do pretty much everything, but didn't put a huge hole in my wallet. When I described what I needed to someone in PC World, they directed me to this, and I fell in love instantly.
Before I start my review, I'll add the specs, so you're all aware:
Processor - Intel Core i3 (2.13GHz)
RAM - 2GB
Hard Drive Size - 320GB
Optical Drive - DVD+/-RW
Operating System - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Card Reader - Multi Card reader
Display Type - TruBrite HD TFT High Brightness
Display Size - 17.3" (1600 x 900 resolution)
Graphics Card - ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
Ports - USB 2.0 x 2, VGA x 1, HDMI x 1
Webcam - Integrated
Wired Networking - Ethernet
Wireless Networking - WLAN 802.11bg
Warranty - 1 year
Other Features - Bluetooth, Microphone
Price: Around £400-500 (though not too easy to find now, as it's been discontinued)
Bearing in mind this laptop is over 2 years old, these specs are pretty impressive. If you look at the market now, a laptop with a good processor and a mid-high end graphics card will cost you a fortune. £500 (max) is a good deal in my opinion! Now, onto the review!
EASE OF USE:
When I received this laptop, it didn't take long at all to find my way around and install everything I usually use (despite that this was the first time I'd seen Windows 7). The touch-pad is surprisingly user-friendly compared to other laptops I have used, it's also more functional - you can pinch to zoom with it, which is a nice feature! Although, this feature is also a drawback, as you can accidentally touch the pad with a second finger, zooming in/out when not expecting to. The buttons are also quiet, which is great. I've had so many laptops in the past where the left/right mouse button are horrifically loud!
The laptop also has second functions for the F1-F9 buttons. By holding the FN button (next to the left Ctrl/Windows button), these secondary functions appear at the top of the screen, prompting you to press the appropriate key to do a specific thing, e.g. F8 can turn Bluetooth or the Wi-Fi off. It sounds a bit complicated, but it's actually incredibly simple and easy.
I have to admit, considering it only has 2GB of RAM, the machine works wonderfully. It can handle quite a few applications at once without a problem. I even tested a browser, to see how many tabs it can hold... My old laptop could only hold 50 or so, before slowing down/crashing. This beauty got close to 200 before having trouble! The laptop generally runs very smoothly - even now, 2 years later (it's a little slower than when I bought it, mind).
Games wise, the graphics card in this laptop is surprisingly good. When I bought it, I wasn't expecting it to play any games after 2010-ish, but boy, was I wrong! It quite happily runs The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (released last year) on high graphics. This alone for me makes it worth the price tag!
Being a student, I tend to travel a lot with my laptop. I go to lectures or the library several times a week, and may have erm, dropped it once or twice... But despite my accidental abuse, it's still in one piece and still runs great! In the 2 years that I've had it, none of the ports have given me any trouble either, which is always good.
One gripe I have though, is the fan. It gets clogged up very easily, causing the laptop to overheat. The answer to this problem is simple - use compressed air. The idea of paying money to blow dust even further into the laptop doesn't appeal to me, however, so I use the riskier option of getting the vacuum cleaner out and cleaning it that way. I've had to do this twice now, and it's worked both times. Of course if you ever do attempt this, make sure the fan isn't running - doing so while it's on could break it.
Most laptops in my experience end up having some sort of meltdown within the first couple of years of use. For example, the screen going blue and the system failing or something similar. However, this hasn't happened on my Satellite Pro (touch wood!), in fact I've not had any problems at all (and again!), apart from the fan mentioned above!
According to the specifications this laptop can last 3.2 hours, which is pretty accurate, unless you're playing a power-hungry game/application. After a year or two you'd expect this to reduce significantly to an hour or so. But despite the fact I use my laptop a LOT, and almost always have it plugged in, the battery hasn't degraded much at all. I can still get 2 hours out of a full charge, more if I'm not using any big applications. Would be nice if the initial battery life was higher, though. 3 hours isn't long at all.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who needs a powerful machine to run games, but also wants to do work on it and be confident it won't suddenly disappear due to a system malfunction. My only gripe is the fan - but keep it clear of dust, and you'll be fine.