Toshiba has earned a reputation for producing feature-rich laptops at affordable prices. The $548 Toshiba Satellite L755D-S5204 continues that tradition. This 15-inch notebook offers a large keyboard, a roomy 640GB hard drive, and an AMD Quad-Core A6-3400M Fusion APU. Sounds pretty good for just $548. But how does this mainstream machine compare to other budget-friendly laptops?
The Satellite L755D has a brushed aluminum blue lid that looks handsome but is far from flashy. A slightly raised, silver Toshiba logo adorns the cover as well. The lid does attract some fingerprints, but the matte finish does a fine job at hiding this (unless you tilt the machine towards the light). The underside of the notebook is a plain black matte plastic.
Measuring 14.8 x 9.8 x .6 - 1.3 inches and weighing 5.2 pounds, the L755D was comfortable enough to lug along during a walk from the office to the transit station. This notebook is the same weight as the HP g6x (5.2 pounds) and lighter than the Gateway NV55S05u (5.6 pounds).
Keyboard and Touchpad
Open up the Toshiba Satellite L755D and you'll find a recessed, black matte keyboard contained by a deck with the same chrome-like, deep blue color of the lid. We appreciated how generous Toshiba was with the big, flat-topped keys that made typing quite comfortable, not to mention the full-sized number pad. However, we found the space bar key to be too small. More than once, we completely missed it, instead hitting hitting one of the Alt keys.
The touchpad and silver, rounded mouse buttons are centered below the G and H keys, which means you'll be able to touch type without any problems. Initially, we questioned the smallish 3.25 x 1.6-inch touchpad's ability to serve our needs, but its matte finish and satisfying roughness made it easy to move our finger around. We also found the pad large enough to execute such multitouch gestures as pinch-to-zoom.
The two mouse buttons are recessed into an oval-shaped space that exceeds the length of the touchpad, and were responsive.
Display and Audio
The L755D has a 15.6-inch widescreen display with a standard resolution of 1366 x 768. Videos played on it had accurate detail and came out quite bright, but colors and contrast did not pop as much as we would have liked. The well-lit band concert scenes in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist displayed nicely, but the screen didn't do justice to the City's tiny flitting streetlights during the film's nocturnal scenes; they lost most of their ambient charm because the night didn't look black enough in comparison.
Tilting the display back as far as it would go caused some color distortion, and when three people sat beside each other to watch a movie, the two sitting on the outer edges said that the display's glossy finish created some distracting reflections.
The notebook's stereo speakers, located in two oval wells on the upper right and left corners of the deck, produced acceptable and accurate sound. The bass in the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" was barely perceptible--while Fergie's vocals, which should have rang out brightly, fell flat and sounded thin even with the volume maxed out. The sound could hardly fill the desk area where we tested the laptop, let alone an entire room.
The Satellite L755D is a truly cool portable. After playing a full-screen video on Hulu for 15 minutes, both the touchpad and the space between the G and H keys registered a manageable 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and the middle of the underside measured a harmless 88 degrees. However, we did notice that the fan tended to run a bit loud after the laptop had been turned on for some time--even if you didn't give it much to do.
Ports and Webcam
The left side of the L755D contains mic and headphone jacks, HDMI, a combined eSATA and USB, VGA, Ethernet, and a Kensington lock slot. On the right are two more USB ports and a SuperMulti DVD burner with Labelflash support. Finally, you'll see a 5-in-1 card reader if you look right below the right mouse button. As with its other notebooks, one USB port uses Toshiba's Sleep and Charge technology, which lets you power mobile devices even when the system is asleep or off.
The Toshiba Satellite L755D features a 0.3-MP webcam. During a Skype video call, our friend noted that our image appeared dull and washed out, and the picture could have been much sharper. On the plus side, Toshiba's built-in facial recognition software operated quite well. It took us a couple of tries to register, but it was smooth sailing after that. Upon booting, the computer recognized us on its first try and logged us on instantaneously.
The Satellite L755D features a 2.3GHz AMD Quad-Core A6-3400M processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 640GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive. On PCMark Vantage, a benchmark which measures overall performance, the L755D scored 4,079. That's about 1,500 points below the mainstream category average, and also rather unimpressive considering that the similarly priced HP Pavilion g6x (2.53-GHz Intel Core i3-380M processor; $544) notched 5,384 on the same test. The Gateway NV55S05u, which has a slightly more powerful 1.5-GHz AMD A8-3500M APU, scored 4,377. Still, even when streaming a movie on Netflix, running a Norton antivirus scan, and opening nine tabs on Internet Explorer simultaneously, the L755D didnt' exhibit lag.
The Satellite L755D took 60 seconds to boot Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), seven seconds faster than average. In this regard, the L755D outperforms the HP Pavilion g6x, which fired up in 74 seconds, but gets smoked by the Gateway NV55, which took a speedy 48 seconds to start the OS.
On our file transfer tests, the L755D copied a 5GB folder of mixed media files in 3 minutes and 47 seconds for a rate of 22.4 MBps, a fair amount below the 27.9 MBps average, but faster than the Gateway's 21.3 MBps speed. It also clocked in a rather slow time of 9 minutes and 18 seconds to perform a complex VLOOKUP operation on 20,000 rows on the OpenOffice software. However, the Gateway NV55 took an even longer 10:48 to complete the same task.
Equipped with integrated AMD Radeon HD 6520G graphics, the L755D won't satisfy hardcore gamers, but it fared substantially better than some of its sub-$600 competitors. On the 3DMark06 test, the L755D scored 5,220 points, about 1,100 points higher than the category average. It trounced the HP Pavilion g6x, which scored a paltry 1,826 running Intel HD integrated graphics, but came in a bit below the Gateway NV55, whose AMD Radeon HD 6620G graphics card notched 5,686.
While playing World of Warcraft on the recommended settings at 1366 x 768, the L755D posted a very playable 54 fps on autodetect, just slightly below the 68 fps average. Then we turned on maximum settings, and the L755D hit 27 fps--right on a par with the average. For comparison's sake, the Gateway NV55 scored 67 fps on recommended settings, and 29 fps with effects maxed out. The Pavilion g6x coughed up a pitiful 15 fps in autodetect mode.
Even when we switched to the more demanding Far Cry 2, the L755D excelled. It returned a score of 52 fps on autodetect, 14 points above average (38 fps). Boosting the game to full settings, the L755D logged 24 fps, a shade below the Gateway's 28 fps.
On the LAPTOP battery test--continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi--the L755D managed to run for 4 hours and 9 minutes. That's about 20 minutes less than the category average, the HP Pavilion g6x (4:27), and the Gateway NV55 (4:26).
The Satellite L755D comes packaged with a number of proprietary media/productivity apps: Toshiba Book Place is a full-color e-book store, built around the e-reader software by a company called Blio. ReelTime is essentially a system history browser that displays thumbnails of recent files and Web pages along the bottom of the screen.
Also preloaded on the L755D is the Google Chrome browser, and trials of Microsoft Office Starter Edition and Norton Internet Security. The notebook comes with a 1-year warranty for parts and labor, plus a 1-year waranty for the battery. See how Toshiba fared on our annual Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brands report.
Toshiba offers a staggering 36 preconfigured versions of the L755. At the low end, the $474 L755D-S5227 comes with an AMD dual-core A4-3300M APU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive, and AMD Radeon HD 6480G graphics. At the upper end, the $745 L755-S5255 has an Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce GT525M graphics.
Notebook shoppers on a budget--and especially casual gamers--will find plenty to like in the $548 Toshiba Satellite L755D-S5204. Its appealing design, comfortable keyboard, and roomy 640GB hard drive are pluses. And while the AMD quad-core processor isn't as fast as comparably priced Intel-powered machines, the AMD Radeon HD 6520G graphics provides above average performance. For $30 more we prefer the Gateway NV55S05u, which offers better performance and slightly longer battery life, and the HP Pavilion g6x provides better sound and CPU punch. But those looking for a system that can handle all their needs for less than $600 should definitely give the Satellite L755D a look.