The Toshiba Satellite T235 is a very thin and light laptop with impressive battery life for a very economical price. The plastic design keeps it lightweight, along with the (word to describe leave it out) optical drive keeps it thin. There really aren’t many things this machine is missing, and if you don’t need impressive processing performance, the Toshiba T235 will provide you with everything you need, while not having to pay a fortune.
This model is available with either an AMD or Intel chipset, so when it comes to purchasing one you have to decide between an Intel Pentium U5400, with the Intel one costing $30 more. Toshiba provided me with a T235D-S1345RD(AMD chipset), which is the one I will be reviewing. The Intel should provide fairly similar results.
AMD Turion II Neo Duel-Core Processor K625
Windows 7 Home Premium
ATI M Radeon HD 4225
4 GB DDR3 RAM
320 GB HDD (260 free)
First thing I take note of in a laptop is it’s weight, and wow I am impressed by the Toshiba Satellite T235. This thing is as light as a feather, and not much thicker than one. There is a reason I don’t take my Macbook Pro everywhere, and that is because of it’s sheer weight. Anyway, I’m telling you, Toshiba’s engineers did a fantastic job of making the T235 this light and thin. Two materials can make a laptop this light, and that is poly-carbonate(plastic) or aluminum. Aluminum clearly being the more expensive of the two. I don’t see any problem in using plastic in a laptop as long as it is this light. The only weaknesses I see is slight give on the front case behind the screen.
Well starting from the actual outside, I am a much bigger fan of the Toshiba logo on this model compared to the obnoxious one on the M645. Not to bash the M645-it is a great machine-but the front case looks like poorly designed billboard compared to the modest “TOSHIBA” on the front of this one. Mine came in red, not really my color, I’d go for the white or possibly the dark green.
The port layout is simple and yet effective. A few companies such as Sony and Lenovo put their SD card slots on the front and sometimes even the audio ports. I don’t know about you, but audio cords sticking out the front can get in the way when you have large palms such as myself. Not only that, but if you have desktop kind of setup, having computer speakers plug in the front can be quite annoying and can look awkward. Because Toshiba opted out of having any ports or slots on the front, they were able to curve the bottom of computer(where you rest your hands) making it more comfortable than if it were just flat like most machines.
The actual ports are fairly typical: USB, HDMI, ethernet, SD card slot, audio in and out. What is surprising is the eSata Port. These are much faster than USB drives and are really only used with external hard drives. Spend the extra $100 on an eSata compatible drive and you have another fast storage drive or a very capable backup drive. This could be a very capable multimedia computer by using the HDMI output to maybe a 32 inch LCD, having a 1 TB backup drive plugged into one of the USB ports, and a 500-1TB storage drive plugged into the eSata port for a drive that would be just as quick as the internal drive to store all those videos,pictures, and music.
LED lights that you can easily see when the cover is open or closed let you know when the this Toshiba is plugged in, power is on, if the hard drive is working, SD card slot being used, wifi is being used, and if it is connected to a 3G network. These aren’t that useful, just a light to let you know it is on is all that is necessary.
Opening up the cover, I see that Toshiba made this plastic keyboard as metal looking as possible. It actually resembles chrome with the crisscross design, actually feeling it is obviously plastic, but it actually looks really cool. What ruins the symmetry and cool design of this laptop is the obnoxious stickers. This would be like Levi covering my jeans in advertisements about how well made and durable they are. If I purchase a T235, the first thing I would do would figure out how to cleanly get these stickers off of my computer, probably a warm damp spoung. I go more into depth about this in my article ranting about these stupid stickers::::.
I really like this keyboard. For a 13.3 inch laptop, it actually has a very nice sized keyboard. All the keys feel like they are in the right spot, the chiclet keyboard helps accomplish this by leaving spaces inbetween the keys. The keyboard is very simiple without any multimedia keys, the only addition is a vertical layout of a few extra keys on the right side: del, home, pgup, pgdown, end. These are in a nice spot and easy to use. The F keys all of a second function when used in tandem with the function key. What is nice about the function key is when pressed, it displays on the top of the screen what each F key does in actual words, not just symbols. The only keys that Toshiba kind of screwed up were the volume keys. When turning the volume up or down, there is no notification of how high or low you turned it. The only thing I see is the little sign on the bottom right of the screen that shows if the volume is muted or not.
I like this trackpad a lot. Read my article on trackpads to read why no computer has anything on Mac Trackpads yet, but this trackpad is very well designed and works very well. It is not the typical square or squarish shape, but very rectangular. You may notice, it resembles almost a widescreen display, about the same proportions as the screen in front of it. Kudos to Toshiba for realizing that it makes sense to make a trackpad in the same shape of its screen. The actual trackpad is very responsive and much more consistent than most PC trackpads. Two finger scrolling works fairly well but is not the best.
Processing performance is really nothing special, but that is not what this laptop class is about. At about $200 more expensive and a little bigger than netbooks, it is more fair to compare model to a netbook than an i5 packing desktop replacement. The ultra low voltage processor allows this computer to work better than the past Intel Core Duo processor it replaces, while giving it what really matters for this class, amazing battery life. The fact that you can purchase a full featured laptop that gets over 6 hours of battery life is astonishing to me. The integrated graphics won’t be able to compete with discrete cards, but light gaming on lower detailed settings should not be a problem. 720p video through the HDMI port to a TV looks great. I would rent TV shows on a daily basis on play them on my TV through this on a daily basis on this thing; Macs still don’t come with HDMI ports. The screen is too glossy for me to want to bring it out, and colors look a little washed out for my taste; I also use $800+ monitors so I’m kind of biased when it comes to screens.
This is nothing short of a great laptop. Yeah it doesn’t have the best processor, or a built in optical drive, but show needs them. This computer is so thin and light that you’ll want to bring it with you everywhere, so you will get every penny of use out of it. This could be a perfect college laptop for someone who is not a gamer and just wants to do the usual college stuff-microsoft office, music, video, photos-while paying very little for it. I would buy this over pretty much any netbook for it is only a little bigger, little pricer, but works much better and is about as light.