Toshiba Satellite L450
Cheap and cheerful
Review Pick up the Satellite L450, or even just glance at it, and you’re left in no doubt that it’s very much a budget laptop. Chunky, plasticy and devoid of any bells and whistles, it’s not going to appeal to those who like their laptops to stand out from the crowd.
Toshiba's Satellite L450: it's not stylish, but it is dirt cheap
It is, however, dirt cheap, and the L450-137 model we’ve got our hands on here retails for just £379. For this, you get an Intel Celeron T3000, 3GB of DDR 2 memory and integrated Intel GMA 4500M graphics core, along with a 15.6in widescreen display.
Toshiba’s gone for a simple matte-silver finish for the lid, interrupted only by the company’s logo. A large hinge stretches along the bottom of the display, giving the lid a sturdy feel. The display’s bezel isn’t quite as well made, though, and feels very rough when running your finger around the edges of it.
Flip open the lid and, without any media shortcut keys to accompany it, the keyboard looks very lonely. Each function key is assigned a second task – such as turning Wi-Fi on and off – but we were dismayed to find these didn’t work on our review unit. We eventually resolved this by downloading the latest Toshiba Utility from the company’s support site, but it’s not the kind of hassle you expect to be put through with a brand new laptop.
The keyboard layout is good, with decent-sized arrow keys and the Page Up and Page Down keys sitting within easy reach at the right. As with many budget keyboards, flex is an issue here – especially in the middle of the keyboard – and typing therefore has a spongy feel to it. The trackpad is impressive, though, and responds well even to light touches, but it’s not multi-touch so there’ll be no two-fingered gestures.
Good keyboard layout, but it flexes too much
Toshiba has given the 15.6in, 1366 x 768-pixel screen the glossy treatment. This boosts colour vibrancy, but it’s not the brightest display we’ve cast our eyes over. Viewing angles are poor too, both horizontally and vertically, requiring you to sit straight-on to the screen or suffer a drop in brightness and clarity.
Intel = OpenGL fail
No not a Intel video chip again. Oh please no. The moment the users install anything requiring OpenGL they're gonna find they're dead in the water without an oar to paddle with.
Okay I guess Intel is giving them away for nothing or something. Trouble is if you can't run your programs with them what's the point of the laptop cheep even as it is?
Re: Not that cheap.
Yes, but for £30 extra I'd rather have the Toshiba. I've seen how Dell treat their customers when things go wrong.
Not that cheap.
right now Dell are flogging entry level Inspiron 15s with a very similar spec and 4GB of RAM for £350.
A Warning from History?
Bought someone an L350D Toshiba. The 'D' meant it uses an AMD chip, not Intel. More bang for the buck, better overall specification of laptop for similar price.
Toshiba UK have support forums, so before you buy this model, if I were you I would go check there first to see what typical issues you may encounter.
Sturdy laptop, very sold, good keyboard, typical Toshiba traits. However:
1) Certain laptops, AMD or Intel, seem to have very poor ventilation design, so can overheat when playing a game or using other CPU intensive tasks. Not sure if dust is a problem, but it's suggested dust blocks the vents on the forum, although I still think it's an overall bad design after research.
2) These laptops seem to still come generally with Vista. Put XP on, and although there are all the relevant XP drivers on Toshiba's website, some things are strange. The rubbish realtek WLAN adapter is USB unbelievable, not mini-PCI, and has an on/off switch on the front. With WPA1 or 2 PSK it just doesn't connect properly. A basic quick-fix for this (XP remember) is to use WEP (yes, we all know the security issues there.) The network icon does not always show the wireless network is connected, but you can still do everyday internet-tasks fine. It is indeed a very strange one, and I can only put it down to a combination of XP, bad driver design, and the fact the WLAN adapter is USB.
The limited WLAN connectivity with strange icons is a quick-fix that worked after a BIOS update of the laptop.
Those were just my experience with this laptop I had bought for somebody. From Toshiba forums there are a whole host of other problems, some ridiculous and user-caused; but some not. I think XP should be expected to work fine on t hese laptops, but really you want an intel, not realtek, WLAN adapter, and make sure you give it a thorough going over before your return-to-shop period is up.
If anybody has any questions about any of these cheaply priced Toshibas, check out Toshiba forums, where it will already have been answered. If you own a Toshiba laptop in these ranges, update the BIOS first, to see if that makes a difference.
feels very rough when running your finger around the edges
[Tommy Cooper] "I went to the doctor, I said 'Doctor, it hurts when I do this'. He said ' Don't do it then'. [/Tommy Cooper]