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Where Are They Going With This?
Dec 28, 2010 (Updated Dec 28, 2010)
Review by Guy Techie
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: OK
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:Inexpensive, quick performer, exellent sound, 8 hrs of battery life
Cons:Heavy, low resolution, touchpad in the way, build quality, no Gigabit Ethernet
The Bottom Line: If all you want is performance for the money, then this is it. The rest... welll...
After using so many laptops that are 13" or smaller, I just couldn't go back to anything larger. I still have a 15" gaming laptop that is collecting dust (and the hardware isn't cutting edge anymore for today's games), and it reminds me why I like smaller laptops.
Recommend this product?
It is, then, out of character for me to even fathom the Toshiba Satellite A665-6086 16" laptop. Strange though. In the laptop world, larger screen laptops actually cost less than smaller ones. It may be the only reason for me to think about these heavy cement blocks.
Case in point: Along with the 16" of bulk, you get an Intel Core i3 dual core processor running at 2.4 GHz, 12-cell battery (that's a lot of cells!), 4GB of RAM, a speedy 500GB HDD spinning at 7200 RPMs (faster than your usual 5400 RPM drives), a 6x DVD recorder, media card slots, built-in webcam, and an amazing claim of 8.5 hours on battery. All of this for only just under $600 at Best Buy.
My Acer Timeline, which has a 11.6" screen and a less powerful CPU (1.2 GHz Core 2 Duo) cost almost as much. Of course, my Timeline only weighs about 4lbs, while this behemoth comes barreling down your lap at a chunky 6 lbs (not including the large power brick).
Connectivity includes 4 USB 2.0 ports, and a single ExpressCard slot, but no Firewire. One of the USB ports double as a eSATA port which allows you to charge small devices even while the laptop is asleep or off. It does have an HDMI output to connect to your HDTV, as well as a standard VGA port. While it comes with Wireless A/G/N and WiMax built-in, the Ethernet port is only 10/100 Mbs. Sad that it's not Gigabit. With WiMax, at least here in Chicago, your only service provider would have to be Clearwire or Sprint.
You do get a large 16" glossy widescreen display, but the resolution is a lowly 1366x768. Because of this, everything looks too big for my eyes. However, for older folks, it may be ideal. Let's put it this way: the 11.6" screen on my Acer has the exact same resolution. Imagine stretching the same image to 16 inches!
Other than the relatively low resolution, the screen itself is bright and clear. The glossy surface does reflect light like a mirror, so you'll probably not want to use it near a window or places with bright lights. I actually like glossy screens, and this one is pretty good. Viewing angles is wide enough to not be annoying.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The chicklet style keyboard has a nice layout. The larger form factor allows for full sized keys, along with being well-placed, too. Though I do find that the delete key rather large and prominent. They are comfortable to type on. However, the touchpad seem to get in the way of my left palm rest. I keep moving the mouse cursor or worse (light taps invokes mouse clicks!). They should move the touchpad a little more to the right. Thankfully, you can turn the touchpad off with a touch of a button, but it is just another hassle.
The touchpad is large and responsive, but is not a multi-touch pad like on the Macs. The button that turns it on and off has a white glowing light that indicates the status of the touchpad.
There are soft touch buttons for browser, WIFI, App shortcut, play/pause, mute, and volume up and down as well.
The speakers are unobstructed, sound nice and fuller than most other laptops. It may not replace a boom box, but it's definately suitable to listen to on their own in a medium size room, such as those found in hotels. No earth shattering bass, but enough to have a very filling sound.
They can get pretty loud, as well. The Harmon Kardon speakers can also be used when the laptop is asleep or off when you connect an MP3 player to it. It's what Toshiba calls "Sleep-and-Music".
Witht the low price come some sacrafice. Build quality seems to suffer a bit. The entire laptop is made up of hollow feeling plastic. The texture is cheesy, with it's raised patterns. The texture makes the plastic feel even more hollow, as you scrap across it and the sound reverberates througout the panels. Even the screen's lid is squishy when in the closed position. I'm afraid if I place a dictionary on top of it, the plastic lid would deform so badly, it'd actually place pressure on the glass display from the back!
Similary, if you open the lid, you can flex it so much that I was afraid I would break the glass screen. The lid would be fine. It'd just rubber-band itself back in place.
Still, it has a lot of ooomph for the price, so if all you really want is performance for the money, this is it. You may sacrafice build quality, deal with a low resolution display, and dispense with Gigabit connectivty, but the Core i3 at 2.4 GHz is actually a lot of power for the relatively little money you'd spend. Pair that up with 4GB of DDR3 memory and a hard drive that rotates at 7200 RPMs, most every day applications you may use will fly.
The integrated IntelHD graphics is perfectly suitable for HD movie and videos, but still not there yet for gaming. While it's faster than previous Intel integrated video solutions, it's still no match for dedicated hardware like nVidia and ATI. It can still hold it's own for older games, as well as newer games that are highly scalable (such as Starcraft 2). And yes, it plays World of Warcraft just fine - even at it's highest setting. Then again WoW is a pretty old game, relatively speaking.
Oh boy does this thing have a big battery. 12 freaking cells! Most notebooks come with 6 cells. Extended batteries would usually have 9, and they would stick out a bit. But 12 cells? The battery pack is so big, it actually lifts the rear of the laptop up about an inch! It produces a whopping 93Wh of power, and last almost 8 hours when being heavily used for surfing the internet and some YouTube (which is actually pretty demanding).
I've actually gone back to install a 32-bit version Windows 7, and ran into some troubles. It already came with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, but I needed to run the 32bit version a few work applications. The problem was finding drivers for the built-in Intel WiMax hardware and an unknown "PCI Simple Communications Controller", both listed in Device Manager. I still haven't found any drivers for either of them, but that did not affect the way the laptop operated.
If I needed to use the laptop on Clearwire or Sprint's 4G network, I would be in trouble. Actually not really. I can probably deal with an external USB 4G modem. I still have no idea what that unidentified hardware is though.
But then again, with a laptop this big, I wouldn't want to carry it around anyways. It'll be sitting still on a desk and only moved once in a while. In other words, it'll be mostly indoors where I will have WiFi or be tethered to the network with an Ethernet cable.
This is truly a desktop replacement notebook. I can't see anyone enjoy carrying this thing around. Seriously, would you carry a 16-17" laptop on a flight?
And there is the contradiction. The battery life is amazing, but it doesn't really need to be, because it won't be going anywhere. I guess the capability is nice to have.
The build quality is crap, but that won't keep the laptop from functioning. It's a very good performer for the money, considering it's "only" a Core i3. It's also paired up with a good performing hard drive, too.
Sound quality is excellent, and watching movies would be great on this thing. Music would be suitable as well. The low resolution won't detract much when watching movies, and the glossy screen actually help with the black level.
The keyboard is very good, but the touchpad is in the wrong place, even though it's nice and responsive.
Just like the person who designed the Toshiba A665-S6086, I have no idea where I'm going with this.
Amount Paid (US$): 600
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: Greater than 15 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: Zip Drive
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50
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