Toshiba's Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V is a no-frills $649 laptop for small business users who want to use their computer for work and play. Sandwiched between the company's consumer-friendly Satellite line and business-driven Tecra series, this notebook is not as fun or feature-rich as the former, nor is it as secure or durable as the latter. Nevertheless, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V 15.4-inch notebook is worth a look for buyers on a tight budget who don't want to take the time to clean away crapware.
Like theSatellite L355D, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V is as straightforward as they come. Underneath the matte silver lid is a matching deck with a black keyboard and bezel. The keys are ample, shallow, and easy to type on, if a tad noisy. Likewise, the touchpad is large and the touch buttons loud, but we like the frictionless surface. The Wi-Fi switch, headphone and mic ports, and 4-in-1 memory card reader are all located on the front side. Even better, at 5.8 pounds, this system feels light for a mainstream notebook.
With the exception of a lone power button, the area above the keyboard is blank: no launch buttons for Web surfing, configuration settings, or tech support and no multimedia keys, which would have been a nice addition for a notebook that's touted as equally friendly for work and play. The new Vostro 1310, for example, has a more modern design and multimedia controls.
Display and Sound
When we watched Bobby on the 15.4-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel display, we were pleased with the color, brightness, and, in particular, the viewing angles (we were able to push the screen forward and backward, and watch from the sides). Toshiba's TruBrite technology does a decent job of making movies look glossy without being overly reflective. Although not terribly powerful, the sound coming through the speakers was loud enough for watching movies in a quiet room.
Basic Ports, No Webcam
The Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V's port list is pretty basic: three USB ports; a VGA port; Ethernet and modem jacks; headphone and mic ports; an ExpressCard slot; and a memory card reader, which works with SD, MMC, MS, and MS Pro formats. Too bad this notebook lacks a webcam, a feature we've seen on increasingly more notebooks, including budget models.
Business Features (Or Lack Thereof)
As a hybrid work-and-play machine, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V doesn't have many business features, either. TPM circuitry, spill-resistant keyboards, shock-mounted hard drives, and 3D accelerometers are all standard in the Portege and Tecra series, but only 3D accelerometers, in addition to Computrace support and fingerprint readers, are yet offered in select Satellite Pro models. Our configuration came with Windows Vista Home Basic; Vista Business would have been a better choice for the target market, however.
Refreshingly, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V comes with less crapware than Toshiba's consumer machines usually do--just Norton 360, Microsoft Office 2007, Google Picasa, Google Desktop, and Google Toolbar. That's good news for those who want a clean image out of the box.
The Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V's 1.9-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor scored a subpar 2,211 on PCMark Vantage. That's 1,000 points below the mainstream category average. In real life, this low score translates to mixed results. Out of the box, it took 2 minutes to start up; that's twice as long as a Vista notebook should take, particularly one that's not bogged down with copious amounts of crapware. Then again, we had no problem watching a movie while running Norton 360 in the background.
The integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics card scored 1,312 on 3DMark03. Although that's more than 3,000 points below the category average, the target buyer of this notebook likely won't mind that you can't play the latest 3D games or use multimedia-intensive programs, such as video editors.
Despite having an 802.11g--not n--wireless radio, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V showed strong throughput of 17.1 Mbps and 14.7 Mbps at 15 and 50 feet, respectively.
Battery Life and Warranty
The L300D's battery life is also subpar: It lasted 1:40 on our DVD rundown test, whereas the average mainstream notebook lasts 2:18. Because this test drains the battery more than everyday usage, we estimate that if you were surfing the Web and using productivity software instead, the battery would last a little over 3 hours. The one-year warranty is standard and includes toll-free, 24/7 phone support.
Despite what Toshiba says, we suggest you think of the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V as a consumer machine: With the exception of a crapware-free desktop, it has no features tailored for mobile professionals. Before you buy, consider the Fujitsu LifeBook A6120: for $150 more, it offers a larger hard drive, sleeker design, Windows Vista Home Premium, five USB ports, a webcam, and plenty of durability features, including a spill-resistant keyboard, shock-mounted hard drive, and a 3D accelerometer. If money is tight, however, the Satellite Pro L300D-EZ1001V offers a better keyboard, a less reflective display, and comparable performance.