Toshiba's Satellite Pro A200-EZ2204X is a basic business notebook that offers a decent amount of horsepower at an affordable price ($999). Users will appreciate the fact that Toshiba stripped out much (but not all) of the typical bloatware installed on many of today's systems, but we were disappointed by the lack of security features and would have liked more battery life.
Satellite Pro A200 Design
With its black base and dark, Onyx Blue lid, the Satellite Pro may not be the most glamorous notebook around, but because it has a matte finish you won't spend an inordinate amount of time wiping away those pesky fingerprint smudges. The beveled front edge holds five LED status indicators, as well as a 5-in-1 media card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, and a volume dial.
If you'll be using the A200 as your primary system, you'll appreciate that all ports and jacks are conveniently placed on the sides for easy access, rather than around back. Connectivity options include four USB ports, a FireWire port, Ethernet and modem jacks, and S-Video and RGB connections. An ExpressCard slot is embedded on the left side of the system and a dual-layer DVD burner drive is on the right.
Display and Keyboard
Under the lid you'll find a 15.4-inch widescreen display with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution. The screen uses Toshiba's TruBrite anti-reflective technology, which is supposed to provide wide viewing angles and sharp colors. As it turns out, the viewing angle was surprisingly narrow, resulting in color shifting and fading at around 140 degrees from either side. On the plus side, colors were bold and well defined, and movies looked great on the widescreen, as long as you can watch them head on.
Because the A200 is a business notebook, the metallic silver keyboard deck is devoid of the typical multimedia keys you'd expect to find on a consumer model. That said, a quick-launch button or two would be a welcome addition here. Still, there's plenty of wrist room, and the full-sized keyboard is comfortable and responsive, as is the two-button wide aspect touchpad controller. Missing is a fingerprint reader, a security feature that is becoming standard issue on most business notebooks. A 30-day trial version of McAfee's Internet Security Suite is pretty much it.
Peformance of the Satellite Pro A200
Powered by a 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 processor and 1GB of RAM, the A200 managed scores of 3,494 on our PCMark05 test and 151 on MobileMark 2007, both of which are average for this class of notebook. Although not a stellar performer, it had no problem multitasking; while McAfee performed a virus scan, we simultaneously surfed the net and played a DVD movie without a hiccup.
Of course, it helps that this notebook runs Windows XP as opposed to the more resource-hungry Vista. If you're looking to run graphics-intensive applications or 3D games, this system will disappoint, as evidenced by its score of 1,179 on our 3DMark03 tests.
Mediocre Wireless Performance and Endurance
Unfortunately, this model does not come with an 802.11n Wi-Fi option. Instead, you get an Intel PRO wireless ABG adapter, which turned in so-so scores of 16.3 Mbps and 13.2 Mbps (15 and 50 feet from the access point, respectively) on our wireless strength tests. The battery lasted only 2 hours and 12 minutes with Wi-Fi enabled, which is well below the average for a mainstream system. Turning Wi-Fi off gave us an additional 19 minutes of juice.
Software and Support
The A200's 120GB hard drive is preloaded with Toshiba's suite of utilities that help you set up network connections and diagnose hardware and software problems. Although Toshiba makes an effort to cut down on the amount of nonessential software that ships with its business notebooks, the company isn't quite there yet; trial versions of Microsoft Office Pro 2007 and McAfee's Internet Security Suite
were preinstalled on the drive. The Satellite Pro comes with a 1-year warranty covering parts and labor, and 24/7 toll-free technical support.
Satellite Pro A200 Verdict
The Toshiba Satellite Pro A200 won't break any speed records, and its battery life means you'll have to stay within reach of a power plug. However, if you're in need of a basic business notebook and want to stay under the $1,000 mark, this system is worth a look.
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