3.5 star rating

Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 Review

$399.00
Pros: Extremely affordable; Lightweight for a 15-inch notebook; Large keyboard; Face recognition
Cons: Undersized space bar; Below average performance and graphics
The Verdict: At just $399, the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 is a pretty good deal for those who want a notebook for performing basic tasks.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

Laptops have hit a new low--in a good way. For $399, consumers can grab the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542, a 15.6-notebook with that's made for light computing needs. Some trade-offs have to be made to keep the cost down, but can you really go wrong at this price?

Article Continued Below

DesignToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

The exterior and interior of the utilitarian Toshiba Satellite C655 is a matte black plastic imprinted with Toshiba's Trax Texture, which resembles a tiny basket weave. We liked the feel of the raised pattern, but it picked up oils from our fingers. The entire notebook is black, save for a gray Toshiba logo in the center of the lid. Above the expansive keyboard are a pair of plastic oval-shaped speakers.

Despite its bulky 15 x 9.8 x 1.1/1.6-inch frame, the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 keeps things relatively light at 5 pounds. It weighs less than the 14.9 x 9.6 x 1.6-inch Dell Inspiron 15 (M5030) and the 14.7 x 9.7 x 1.4-inch HP Pavilion g6x, which check in at 5.6 and 5.2 pounds, respectively.

Keyboard and TouchpadToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

The C655's classic-style keyboard stretches across the length of the deck and features a full number pad. The large flat keys provided springy feedback with little to no flex. During the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we were able to achieve our usual 50 wpm with a 1 percent error rate. The severely undersized space bar is visually disconcerting, but we never had any space bar-related errors.

The 3.2 x 1.6-inch Synaptics touchpad is a little on the narrow side, but it got the job done. We found multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll and rotation to be somewhat jerky. However, we liked the large discrete mouse buttons and their firm feedback.

Display and AudioToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

Watching video on the Satellite C655's 15.6-inch glossy 1366 x 768p display delivered rich, bold color but lacked sharpness. Text was fuzzy on CNN.com. The 170 lux display fell short of the 294 lux mainstream average in terms of brightness.

While Eva Green's red sequined dres popped off the screen in the 1080p YouTube trailer of "Dark Shadows," we noticed pixelation and blotchiness in darker scenes. Viewing angles were wide enough so that a few people clustered around the notebook could comfortably see the action.Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542

The C655's speakers left much to be desired, barely filling a small room. Despite hearing clear audio on Beyonce's "Love On Top," the audio was underwhelming. Beyonce's vocals sounded greatly diminished and we could barely make out the finger snaps in the beginning of the track.

Heat

After running a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the touchpad, space between the G and H keys and underside registered 81, 82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We consider anything above 95 uncomfortable. Our lap remained nice and cool despite using the C655 for over an hour.

PortsToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

The right side of the C655 is pretty sparse, with only a tray-loading DVD player and a power jack. Two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA, ports for headphones and a microphone and a secure lock slot reside on the left. A 4-in-1 card reader along the left front lip of the notebook rounds out the ports.

Webcam

The 0.3 megapixel camera captures stills and video in 640 x 480. Our test images looked extremely grainy with washed out color under florescent and natural lighting.

Toshiba's Face Recognition software remains easy to set up and use. Scanning and registering our faces took all of 3 minutes. From there, we could launch Windows in 10 seconds with an evenly paced shake of the head.

Performance

The Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 features a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron B815 Processor with 3GB of RAM, a 320GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Mobile Intel Graphics with shared graphics memory. Although we couldn't run the more recent PCMark07 benchmark, on PCMark Vantage the C655 scored 3,480. That's 2,814 points below the 6,294 mainstream category average, but enough to best the Dell Inspiron 15 (M5030) and its 2.3-GHz AMD Athlon II P360 CPU (3,318). The HP Pavilion g6x and its first-generation 2.5GHz Intel Core i3-380M CPU was the clear winner with 5,384. HP has since upgraded this unit to a second-generation Intel Core processor, so the performance delta should be even greater.

The Satellite C655 booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in 59 seconds, a hair longer than the 57 mainstream average. However, it was more than enough to best the Pavilion g6x's 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, which loaded Windows 7 in 74 seconds.

On the File Transfer Test, the C655 duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 4 minutes and 48 seconds, a transfer rate of 17.7 MBps, far below the 33.1 category average. The g6x and the Inspiron 15 scored 24.8 MBps and 24.1 MBps, respectively.

The C655 delivered lackluster performance during our Spreadsheet Test. The notebook took 9 minutes and 29 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. That's 3:14 slower than the mainstream average.

While it didn't fare well on our benchmark tests, the C655 held its own in the multitasking department, running "Bastion" in Google Chrome smoothly despite 7 additional open tabs and 8 open Internet Explorer tabs.

Graphics Performance

A gaming rig the Satellite C655-S5542 is not. During 3DMark06, the notebook's Mobile Intel HD Graphics scored 2,848. That's 2,287 points below the mainstream category average. However, that showing was more than enough to beat the Inspiron 15's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 GPU as well as the Pavilion g6x and its Intel HD Graphics, which scored 1,725 and 1,826, respectively.

On the "World of Warcraft" test, the C655 delivered an unplayable frame rate of 14 fps on High at 1366 x 768. The laptop notched a still-unplayable 22 fps on Good.

Battery TestToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

During the Laptop Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi, the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 lasted 4 hours and 26 minutes. That's 43 minutes below the 5:09 category average. Still, the HP Pavilion g6 was only a minute better at 4:27 while the Dell Inspiron 15 (M5030) lasted an anemic 3:07.

Software

Toshiba Satellite C655 BulletinToshiba packages the Satellite C655 with the usual suite of Toshiba-branded software and utilities. There's Toshiba Laptop Checker and PC Diagnostic Tool for troubleshooting and maintaining the notebook's health. Toshiba Assist allowed us to quickly access settings for Bluetooth, creating system passwords and optimizing our notebook. Web portals for Toshiba App Place and Toshiba Book Place are also included.

Our favorite Toshiba software continues to be Toshiba Bulletin Board and ReelTime. Bulletin Board allows us to jot down a quick note, post an image or create a bookmark to a large bulletin board for safekeeping. ReelTime displays all of our recent activity, including recent documents, Web pages, images, and video in a timeline across the bottom of the screen. Both programs are easy to use and visually appealing.

Third-party apps include Microsoft Office Starter, Skype, Windows Live, Google Chrome and a free 30-day trial Norton Internet Security 2012.

Configurations

Our $399 review unit of the Satellite Satellite C655-S5542 features a 1.6-GHz Intel Celeron Processor B815 with 3GB of RAM, a 320GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Mobile Intel Graphics with shared graphics memory. The $380 base model, the Satellite C655D-S5533, features an AMD E-Series Processor E-300, 4 GB of RAM, a 320GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and AMD Integrated Graphics. There's also the $694 model (Satellite C650-ST5NX2) which features an Intel Core i3-2330M CPU with 3GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Intel graphics.

VerdictToshiba Satellite C655-S5542

Compared with many of the notebooks we review, the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542 offers mediocre performance and graphics. But for those who only need a system for simple tasks such as surfing the Web, checking Facebook and writing documents, this $399 system gets the job done at an almost irresistible price. If you can spend a few more bucks, we recommend the $479 HP Pavilion g6x, which has a second-gen Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, as well as four color options. However, the Satellite C655-S5542 is good choice for those on a tighter budget.

Tags: Toshiba Satellite C655-S554, Toshiba Satellite, Toshiba, notebooks, budget notebooks, reviews, laptops

Technical Specifications
Toshiba Satellite C655-S5542
www.toshiba.com


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
CPU
1.6GHz Intel Celeron Processor B815
Operating SystemMS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
RAM
3GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
320GB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
5,400rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
15.6
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
1366x768
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
DVD SuperMultiDrive
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
8X
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Mobile Intel HD Graphics
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
Shared
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Wi-Fi
802.11b/g/n
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
Bluetooth 3.0
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
Learn More
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size3.2 x 1.6 inches
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; Headphone; Microphone; VGA; security lock slot
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
2
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
Learn More
Card Slots
4-1 card reader
Warranty/SupportStandard Limited Warranty 1-Yr Parts and Labor, 1-Year Battery
Size15 x 9.8 x 1.1/1.6-inches
Weight5 pounds
AUTHOR BIO
Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.
Sherri L. Smith on
Twitter Google+
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE