Toshiba Satellite L505 short review.

Sucks.

  1. Hates Linux,
  2. Nice keyboard layout and feel,
  3. Worst. Mouse. Ever.
  4. Screen doesn’t tilt back far enough,
  5. Hard to know which bloatware to disable,
  6. Underpowered in odd places,
  7. Grease magnet.

Hates Linux

Just doesn’t seem to want to run any Linuxes. Which is something I should have found out before purchasing, since I wanted to have it dual boot. You can get it to boot, as long as you add the “acpi=off” command line, but then you can forget battery life :(

Nice keyboard

Gotta say I love the keyboard’s feel, good balance between lightness and tactile feedback, and the layout – while a little unusual – includes a full numeric keypad without making the keyboard unusably small and is definitely worth getting used to.

Worst. Mouse. Ever.

I’ve used laptops before. But the Toshiba goes for the visual aesthetic of the “invisible touchpad”, designed to blend in with the palm area in general. Because that’s exactly what it is – the palm area – most touchpads are slightly recessed, but the Toshiba’s is like a little bandaid sitting on top of the plastic finish.

The mouse buttons themselves, however, are recessed. Coupled with the modern touchpad features, this makes it really difficult not to accidentally mouse all the time.

At first boot, it is configured with “tap” enabled – so expect to be continually accidentally clicking things. The edges are configured as scroll bars, so I find I’m continually scrolling stuff as I ease into using the keyboard and my palms finally reach enough pressure on the plastic to count as a touch on the pad.

Lastly, it tries to do a touch-screen like multi-touch zoom (press two fingers and move them apart to zoom out, or move them together to zoom in). But it’s not very good. It frequently recognizes attempts to make small mouse movements as a move; it invariably recognizes attempts to click & drag icons as a zoom instead.

Screen doesn’t tilt back far enough

It only tilts back far enough for comfortable horizontal viewing. If you plan on putting the laptop on a docking station or stand, it won’t tilt back far enough for easy viewing.

Bloatware

As shipped, the Toshiba starts up with one of the longest running process lists I’ve seen. These apps aren’t tiny little helpers. I mean, they are, but they have large binaries that are slow to load. Guess what that does to boot time? Unfortunately, the laptops neatest features – the ones that would counter its shortcomings, require them.

When you first start it up, there’s some kind of left-side-of-screen control panel. It looks useful, but not something I’d want running all the time. And on a 15.6in screen, not something you would want set to “autohide” using a big-ass chunk of the left side of the screen. WTF. I’m not sure what it was called, it only stopped annoying the crap out of me after I disabled just about everything useful on the laptop :(

Underpowered in odd places

When Windows 7 wants to ask you for user-authentication, the screen blanks for 3-6 seconds, before coming back with the slightly greyed-out screen. Another 2-3 seconds for the dialog to appear. Another 2-3 seconds for it to go through.

UAC has been part of Windows since Vista, and this is supposed to be a Windows 7 PC. Now I’m guessing this is just down to the low-end onboard Intel graphics. But it’s typical of how the machine tends to be low powered in more noticeable places.

Grease Magnet

This is hard to explain. I’m not talking about the display – which is remarkably good at resisting finger prints etc. But the laptops casing is an extremely polished, dark finish. Really polished, like glass.

So not only does every little skin contact leave a mark, they always spread out into smudges because the surface is so smooth you always make soft contact.

My touch-devices always have smudges on them, and it doesn’t much bother me. But no matter how fresh & dry your hands are, the finish on the palm area/casing/keyboard look like they’ve been used in a sweat-factory by someone with bad personal hygiene after only minutes of use. If there’s any kind of light-source around even I get OCD about wiping the laptop down every 10-15 minutes.

Overall:

Don’t go near it with a barge poll, let alone $400. If you offered to trade me mine for a dead goat that you might not bother to ship, I’d take that trade-up.

3 Comments

sold, where do you want the carcass ;) would you accept some 3v bright LED’s Green Plastic, not green Light.

“Hates Linux”

That’s the best feature a computer can have.

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