Toshiba 17" (200 GB, Turion 64 X2 RM-70, 2 GHz, 3 GB) Notebook Reviews
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Toshiba 17" (200 GB, Turion 64 X2 RM-70, 2 GHz, 3 GB) Notebook

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The most difficult/strangest notebook to use

Aug 30, 2008 (Updated Dec 3, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Quality of Tech Support:

Pros:Looking good

Cons:Need to be more practical

The Bottom Line: Same wine, just different bottle and package.


I have to say this Toshiba notebook Satellite M305D-S4829 is the most difficult/strangest notebook I have used in my life. I am 44, ~18 years using computers.

I sold my house for a good price. Wife said I should reward myself. I have longed for a notebook for my own, so 1. I don't have to share computer with my 6-year old, who is a gamer on the net 2. I can separate my own activities from my company PC (who knows what they are looking up in my company computers). So I went to Circuity in Wilmington, Delaware, and bought this shining unit for $699, mid August 2008

Setup was no problem. I quickly realized I actually bought a game machine: 4GB, 256MB dedicated to games...not bad. My son said: dady, you don't need a mirror. You can shave in front of your new computer. It simply reflects so well. And the Harman/Kardon beats my Sony sub woofer handsdown. It does not get hot easily.

Good? Let the nightmare begin.

1. After starting up/shutting down(I mean the usual to-use-it- turn-on, finish-then-turn-off. I am not doing any repeated testing), I realized it runs forward very slowly after log-in. Well, there are so many Toshiba favored programs, from Photoworks, Toshiba Assist, Video & Video calls, Toshiba Direct, QuickBooks Financial center, Toshiba DVD Player, User's Guide, Ulead DvD MovieFactory f, Toshiba Application Di, MS Office 60 Day Trial, Norton360, Cyberlink PowerCinema, Free Web Site, Lojack for Laptops....So, OK, if it takes time to ready them, be it. Well, I started up another Dell desktop (>5 years on my hand) along side it. Dell is ready about 2 minutes faster.

The single most annoying is Norton 360: it behaves as if you are trying to pass through airport security check, say, in 2002, 2003 or 2004 (Today airport has improved a lot). Norton 360 acts like a part of OS: you can not uninstall it? At least I have not found out how to. I still have a valid norton virus sub. No, you can not install yours to override Norton 360. Worse, it fires off anytime, whatever you are doing, demanding you fix something otherwise the PC will act "differently". I have been using Zonelab on Xp for a long time. I have believed Zone lab is supposed to be 'inferior' to Norton. But at least Zonelab is not as rude and interruptive as Norton 360. And it expires soon. So you think you spent only $699?

2. Ethernet connection is exceptionally strange: I pulled the ethernet cable off the aforementioned Dell and plugged it on my new buy. The light on the ethernet socket brinks yellow 2-3 times before turning solid, steady green, which usually indicates LAN (which is Comcast Fiber optic network) is ready. Well, in the same time, the Dell desktop, roommate's two Lenovo running XP/vista, all are working/internetting just fine on Comcast network. This Toshi, when lighting solid on green, can NOT get on internet immediately and at ALL, whether the wireless Netgear router is disableed or not. It keeps on saying "can not connect to default, local connection only...". I figured maybe Norton 360 has some block, although it is hard for me to believe a firewall's default bootup is set to block access to internet. How confident you are in your ability to defend me, the customer? You have to shut the door and look around first?

I engaged my desktop specialist friends, on the assumption my buddies are more willing and capable to provide highly customerized services for me. They support Vista, Xp... everything for living for a collective >25 years. As of today, none of the 5 person crew has figured out why the ethernet does not work (man, you have solid green light!!!) They also tried different cables.

Guess what, wireless turns on without any glitch, no need for any human intervention, per booting, although to my frustration, if I ever disconnect it once, I have to restart the pc to be able to connect to the wireless router again. Can I live on wireless alone? sometime you just need hard wire to gain the extra download speed.

3. The touchpad: it reacts well, but a little too sensitive, especially when scrolling web pages using Internet Explorer (Shall I say sliding too fast?) Wait: am I suggesting it is browser specific? While I am yet to generalize anything, touchpad behaves awfully slow when using M Firefox to browse pages. What pages? Regular pages, with normal mix of pictures and texts, say, the Olympics.

4. This is the first Windows based PC I have ever used that runs on AMD. I have not had chance to run data intensive applications such as clustering under my analytics applications. Over 2 weeks since acquiring, my nose told me: AMD is more like Honda Accord, Intel is closer to ..Toyota Camry. Intel runs more 'silky and elegantly' while AMD runs more in a fashion of 'brute' forces. Playing DVD on both Windows Media Players and Toshiba's own player is slightly more like running on square corners than on rim of round balls (Camry), which may be more a matter of fitting one preference better than another. Perhaps it is just the hard disk, since it runs on 5400 only.

5. The design is catching on some fashion mode.
6. Ram behavior: if you are able, find out what exactly is the memery chip type/set. My hunch so far is the modules may not be running caching as fast. Again, it may be confounded by the 5400 ppm HD. Just don't get carried away by the sheer size of 4GB. For a $699 game machine (ususally should be >a gram), some corners ought to be cut somewhere. The memory type is a little 'standard'.

Around 2000 if I bought a notebook like this, I would have been happy with it. But today, Windows-based PC has had > 5 years of chance and time to really get into user-friendliness and give me something much better than this. This Toshiba model has shown essentially the same generation of user-friendliness design and interface, like the toddler never grows. Around 2000, I bought barebones and loaded most applications myself. Today, I am willing to shell out several hundred dollars more. I think I deserve something better, something simpler (maybe just simpler is OK).

I am trying different things and gathering all problems I can find before I finally pick up the phone and call Toshiba.

Update:

1. After uninstalling Norton360, internet access is perfect.
2. Start-up speed: after using the computer for while, just like a new house needs time to settle in, the startup time is much shorter than I previously stated.
3. The sound system continues to amaze. But playing DVD, using both Toshiba's player and Windows Media P, sometimes produces buzzy sounds, as if it is picking up static off the air. In both Amtrak and Alcera, the noise is periodic and unbearable. At home, it is much better and not as predictably periodic. Maybe the machine is too advanced for the DVD.
4. I initially indicated the temperature does not get higher easily. Well, it could get hot, while the weather is getting cold. But eventually, it remains acceptable.

Update2 (December 3rd):

Now the single most serious problem is temperature of the computer. After viewing a DVD (regular) + two HD CSI episodes via Adobe Media Player that came loaded with the computer, the computer became very, very hot. So there have been two instances when it became hot enough that the computer shut down itself (I guess that was a safety set by the manufacturer to trigger that). With in 2 minutes, the computer refused to boot back up. 5 minutes later, when the computer is still pretty, the computer will boot up normally. I have decided not to let my son get close to it.

The audio remains exceptionally good, only that it does not play VCD movies. It has to be DVD. All the slot (memory, SD..) are very convenient. Copying large files by USB is very smooth and fast, presumably due to the 4GB RAM installed.

The 64 bit OS so far has been lagging behind drivers. I have loaded VM and added a Xp professional. So when desperate enough, I just ran stuff by that console.


Recommend this product? No


Amount Paid (US$): 699
Operating System: Windows
Processor: AMD K-2
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 14 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50


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