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Toshiba U405D

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

Toshiba refers to the current Satellite design as a "Horizon" pattern in a "Fusion" finish, which basically means silver gray and black pinstripes that combine for a distinct metallic sheen. It's a smart look that will work in both casual and professional settings, but the lid is far too fingerprint prone, as are the glossy keyboard keys. We did, however, like that the touch pad is totally flush with the wrist rest using a different, matte surface material for the touch pad, so you can still easily discern the active area.

The most interesting feature is something called Sleep and Charge, which means you can plug in and charge USB devices (iPods, mobile phones, and so on) even if the laptop is in sleep or hibernate mode (and even if it is unplugged, though it will drain the battery). And you can power USB devices when the laptop is totally powered off, too, as long as it's plugged into an outlet. Most laptops provide power to USB ports only while they're turned on.

Note that this feature is turned off by default for some reason, and you'll have to hunt around to figure out how to turn it on, as it's buried in a series of submenus.

The 13 inch wide screen LCD offers a 1,280x800 pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size and larger 14 and 15 inch models.

We generally prefer matte finishes on laptops screens, but didn't mind the glossy display on the U405, (or Toshiba's other Satellites) as it seemed more resistant to excessive glare than other glossy screens.

Specification
  • Toshiba U405D-S2852 Average for category mainstream
  • Video VGA-out VGA-out, S-Video
  • Audio Stereo speakers, headphone or microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks
  • Data 2 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
  • Expansion ExpressCard/54, eSATA ExpressCard/54
  • Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
  • Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner
As on the previous U405 we looked at, there's a labeled spot for an HDMI output, but it's plugged shut, leaving only the VGA output for video. There's no Bluetooth, but at least there's an eSATA port for connecting an external hard drive and an ExpressCard slot. In all the systems we've looked at in our Holiday Retail Laptop Roundup, those with AMD CPUs have consistently underperformed Intel powered laptops in the same price range.

This was also true of the U405, which had a 2.1GHz GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core RM-72. It was noticeably slower than the Dell Studio S1535-143B and the Asus X83VB-X1, both of which have Intel's midrange 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 for roughly the same price.

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