Story Highlights• Reasonably priced laptop goes for $1,149
• Software bundle quite respectable for a budget machine
• Touch pad and mouse buttons feel cramped
• Features bright display, good speakers and long battery life
By Michelle Thatcher
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(CNET.com) -- Toshiba has recently dominated the field of desktop-replacement media machines with its Qosmio line, and the company's first Satellite P105 configuration, the Satellite P105-S921, performed in line with some of the better gaming laptops on the market.
But not every user can afford to shell out $2,300 on a Qosmio, nor does everyone want to play high-end games on their machine.
For more budget-crunched buyers, the company offers a $1,149 configuration of the Satellite P105 that includes Harman Kardon speakers, a bright 17-inch display, and Windows XP Media Center Edition.
While the Satellite P105-S6024 lacks some of the high-end components found in its more-expensive siblings, it does offer a decent media experience at a price that undercuts most of the competition -- you'll spend $100 more for a similarly configured HP Pavilion dv8000 (Read review) and $300 more for a similar Gateway NX860X.
For basic home users who want an affordable desktop-replacement laptop to watch movies, rip discs, and manage photos, the Satellite P105-S6024 is a great choice.
Though it's based on Toshiba's midsize Satellite M65, the Satellite P105's 7.8-pound weight places it firmly in the desktop replacement category. Still, it's lighter than most desktop replacements, including the 8.8-pound Dell XPS M1710 and the 8.4-pound Gateway M685 (whose case is identical to that of the NX850XL).
It's also sleeker, measuring 15.5 inches wide and 10.6 inches deep and ranging in thickness from slightly more than an inch at the front to 1.7 inches at the back. With its sizeable AC adapter, the laptop weighs 9.2 pounds -- unfit for regular travel but manageable for moving from room to room.
While its gaming-oriented sibling has cool blue LEDs that glow from beneath the speakers and inside the vents, the Satellite P105-S6024 sticks with a subdued gray-and-silver case that could easily fit in at the workplace. But the laptop's rounded edges belie its intended appeal to home users, as does the reflective coating on its bright, 17-inch wide-aspect display.
The screen's 1,440x900 (WXGA) native resolution gives it much less screen real estate than the much finer resolution found on the Dell XPS M1710; we wish Toshiba would up the resolution on this display and that of the Qosmio G35-AV600 (Read review).
Toshiba takes advantage of the wide form factor by outfitting the Satellite P105-S6024 with a full-size keyboard and a 10-key numeric keypad (somewhat unusual for a laptop, though also found on desktop replacements from Gateway, HP, and Fujitsu).
Given the amount of real estate the case affords, we were somewhat disappointed in the size of the touch pad and the mouse buttons, which felt cramped, and we wish the laptop had a button to turn off the touch pad when using an external mouse.
Above the keyboard sit basic media controls (play, stop, fast-forward, back) and two programmable application-launch buttons. On the front edge, a small volume wheel controls two Harman Kardon speakers that produce well-balanced, if not very loud, sound.
Because the Satellite P105-S6024 runs on Windows XP Media Center Edition, Toshiba also includes a slim remote control that slides into the PC Card slot when not in use. The final design feature of note: a handy on/off switch for the laptop's 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi radio sits along the system's front edge.
While the higher-end Satellite P105-S921(Read review) offers a complete set of media connections, the less-expensive Satellite P105-S6024 leaves out a few. It has headphone and microphone jacks (but no S/PDIF); VGA and S-Video (but no DVI) output; plus four-pin FireWire and four USB 2.0 ports. Networking options include the aforementioned Wi-Fi radio, Gigabit Ethernet, and a modem; Bluetooth is not available on this configuration.
The Satellite P105-S6024 has both a Type II PC Card slot and a slot for the latest ExpressCards, plus a 5-in-1 media card reader that recognizes Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, and xD formats. Rounding out the selection is a double-layer DVD burner.
In addition to Windows XP Media Center Edition, the Satellite P105-S6024's software bundle is quite respectable for a budget machine. The package includes Microsoft Office OneNote, the Microsoft Works 8.5 mini-suite, apps for viewing and burning discs, and Toshiba's Express Media Player, which lets you access CDs and DVDs without booting the system.
The low-price Satellite P105-S6024 uses components on the low end of Satellite P105 configuration options. Our unit included a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1GB of midrange 533MHz memory, a decent-size 100GB SATA hard drive spinning at a moderate 5,400rpm, and an integrated Intel graphics card that borrows up to 128MB of RAM from system memory.
Still, the Satellite P105-S6024 delivered a strong performance on CNET Labs' new performance benchmarks, running neck and neck with a 2GHz Core Duo-based Gateway M685 (the dual-core business version of the Gateway NX850XL) and easily besting the Dell Latitude D520, which is smaller than the Satellite P105-S6024 but is built with the same-speed processor.
If you're looking to use your laptop for ripping music, light photo editing, and other typical home use (checking e-mail, surfing the Web), the Satellite P105-S6024 has plenty of performance to meet your needs. Even better, the Satellite lasted slightly more than three hours in our battery-drain tests, which is the average for smaller systems and impressive for a desktop replacement.
Toshiba backs the Satellite P105 with a typical one-year warranty with return-to-depot service.
The company's toll-free tech support line is available to you around the clock during that period. Extending coverage to three years costs $149, and upgrades to onsite service are available.
Online support is always free, though we wish Toshiba's support Web site offered the ability to chat in real time with a support representative.
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