Toshiba's Satellite L Series promises "style and power" on a budget, and the L755-S5166 does its best to back up that marketing tagline. For $599, you get a stylish brushed aluminum lid and a good mix of components, including a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive and vivid 15.6-inch display. However, in an age when most budget laptops are creeping closer to $500, does the $599 Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 justify the bump in price?
While it may be a budget laptop, the Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 doesn't look cheap. The system sports a dark blue brushed lid that's fingerprint-resistant and pleasing to the eye. The rest of the design is plastic. The chrome mouse buttons and trim around the edges of the speakers contrast nicely with the darker hues of the lid and palm rests. A glossy black bezel surrounds the 15.6-inch screen, and the deck sports the same solid dark blue color as the lid.
At 15 x 9.8 x 1.5 inches, the Satellite L755-S5166 is comparable in size to the Gateway NV55C54u, HP Pavilion g6 and Acer Aspire 5755-6647, although with a weight of 5.3 pounds it's a bit heftier than both the Gateway and HP (4.8 pounds). Only the Aspire 5755-6647 is heavier at 5.6 pounds.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Unlike many 15-inch notebooks, the Satellite L755-S5166 features a traditional, non-island style keyboard with a dedicated number pad. Although anyone doing data entry or playing games might appreciate having a full number pad, some of the keys - most notably Enter, Backspace and the space bar - were shrunk to accommodate this feature. As a result, we mistyped more often than we would have liked and frequently had to reorient our fingers on the home keys.
On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we achieved 68 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate, slightly below our average. Still, the keys on the Satellite L755-S5166 offer enough tactile feedback to make typing a pleasurable experience.
The 3.1 x 1.6-inch touchpad on the Satellite L755 is smaller than competing 15-inch notebooks. For example, the touchpad on the HP Pavilion g6 measures 3.5 x 2 inches and the Gateway NV55C54u's is slightly larger (3.1 x 1.7 inches). Nevertheless, the pad provided smooth and accurate tracking, and gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and two-finger-scrolling proved responsive.
Our only quibble was with the mouse buttons. They required a bit too much force to depress and made a very audible clicking noise.
The Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 features a standard suite of ports, including VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, a Kensington lock slot, three USB ports, a memory card reader and headphone/mic jacks. Although we would have appreciated a USB 3.0 port, few budget laptops offer this feature.
The integrated webcam on the Toshiba can capture images at 640 x 480. While motion was smooth, our footage suffered from washed-out colors, particularly when the user was situated near windows or outdoors. When we called a friend over Google Video Chat, she reported decent sound quality.
The Satellite L755 runs cool, never registering more than 86 degrees Fahrenheit even after streaming video for 15 minutes on Hulu.com. The underside of the laptop was the warmest at 86 degrees, while the space between the G and H keys and the touchpad were even cooler at 83 and 80 degrees, respectively. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable.
Display and Audio
The Satellite L755's 15.6-inch HD TruBrite LED display delivered crisp, vivid images. When we played the official launch trailer for "Mass Effect 3" on YouTube, the vibrant yellows and oranges of explosions stood out clearly against the inky darkness of space.
Viewing angles were also impressive--for a budget notebook, that is. We found that we could move almost 45 degrees either to the left or right before losing image clarity. The screen is fairly bright as well, averaging 194 lux on our AEMC lightmeter. The display on the Acer Aspire 5755-6647, by contrast, only managed to get as high as 154 lux.
The laptop's twin speakers, located just above the keyboard on the left and right, pumped out sound at a decent volume. When we listened to Coldplay's "Yellow," Chris Martin's distinctive falsetto rang out clearly, although the driving guitar suffered from just a hint of tininess.
While the Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 can't match the average mainstream laptop in terms of performance, its 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-2350M dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM outperform fellow budget notebooks. On PCMark07, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the Satellite L755 turned in 2,094, falling just behind the 2,282 achieved by the Acer Aspire 5755-6647, which has a slightly more powerful Core i5 processor.
The laptop can manage everyday tasks with ease. We simultaneously streamed a TV show on Hulu, listened to music through Amazon, opened multiple tabs in Google Chrome and ran a quick scan with Norton Internet Security without seeing a slowdown.
The Satellite L755-S5166's 640GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive boots into Windows more quickly than the competition. It took the notebook just 46 seconds to load Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, easily beating the 59 seconds it takes the average mainstream notebook, as well as the Acer Aspire 5755-6647's boot time of 66 seconds.
Unfortunately, the Satellite L755-S5166's hard drive didn't fare as well when transferring files. It took the notebook 3 minutes and 30 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed multimedia files on the hard drive, a rate of 24.2 MBps. This falls just short of the average mainstream notebook (30.8 MBps), although it's on a par with the Aspire 5755-6647 (24.1 MBps).
When we ran 3DMark06, a synthetic benchmark that tests overall graphics performance, the L755's Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU (with 64-1696MB of dynamically allocated memory) racked up a score of 4,410. Atlhough this score falls short of Aspire 5755-6647 (4,798) and the category average (5,059), it's respectable for an integrated GPU.
Those who like playing less demanding games, such as "World of Warcraft" will find the L755 plenty adequate. With the graphics set to Good and resolution at 1366 x 768, the game ran at a smooth 37 frames per second. Just be sure to stay away from Ultra settings; the frame rate dropped to a stuttering 16 fps.
When we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous surfing on the Web over Wi-Fi), the L755 notebook lasted a healthy 4 hours and 55 minutes, just a hair shorter than than the average mainstream notebook (5:01), but about 10 minutes longer than the Acer 5755.
The Toshiba Satellite L755 series features a range of configurations. The cheapest model, the L755-S5227, costs just $474 and features a 1.9-GHz AMD A4-3300M dual-core APU, 4GB of RAM, integrated graphics and a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive. The L755-S5255. the most expensive model, features a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M discrete graphics and a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive for $744.
Software and Warranty
In addition to the standard preloaded software such as Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2012 and Adobe Reader and Player, the Satellite L755-S5166 also features a suite of Toshiba utilities, including Recovery DiskCreator; Bulletin Board, which allows you to drag and drop pictures, files and links onto a virtual "bulletin board" to quickly organize your most important data and utilities; ReelTime, which organizes your most recently used apps into a timeline for quick access; and Book Place, an app that serves as both an eReader and eBook marketplace.
Toshiba offers a limited one-year warranty for the Satellite L755-S5166, including parts and labor, as well as a one-year warranty on the battery. See how Toshiba fared on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands report.
At $599, the Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166 is a pretty good deal. You get a computer that boasts strong everyday performance, can actually play games such as "World of Warcraft," and lasts a pretty good amount of time on a charge. And with its brushed aluminum lid, the Satellite L755-S5166 isn't hard on the eyes, either. For $50 less, you can get a similarly configured HP Pavilion g6x, whose design we prefer over Toshiba's. But if you pick up the L755, you should be plenty satisfied.