To be honest, when we first heard that Toshiba's new line of notebooks had been designed for the fashion conscious, we were rather doubtful. Toshiba's range of laptops were previously more known for their functionality and performance and it was quite a shock to discover that the new designs from Toshiba were actually pretty gorgeous.
Case in point is the Toshiba Satellite A300, all dressed up in glossy metallic finish. As one of the models in their new "Do More In Style" series, this 15.4-inch notebook comes packed with plenty of goodness for both casual and hardcore entertainment buffs.
From its glossy keyboard to its flushed trackpad and touch based media buttons, the A300 exudes a style that we're quite unfamiliar with; this definitely isn't the Toshiba designs of yore, and it shows. The flushed matte surface of the trackpad was something that we especially liked, and the sensitivity and responsiveness was just right for our needs.
While fingerprints tend to be an issue with such glossy surfaces, we found that it wasn't that obvious with the Mercury Silver coloring of the A300, though that's not to say you can't see them on that keyboard. Face it folks, while a glossy keyboard looks really nice, a touch heavy area like the keyboard isn't the best choice for such a finish, especially since our keyboard ended up all smudged after some light typing on our part.
Looks aside, the A300 does sport some pretty decent features that should satisfy the entertainment buff in you. You may have seen their REGZA-Link for Toshiba's other consumer products (such as HDTVs), but this is the first time that Toshiba's using the HDMI-CEC technology on their laptops. This means you'll be able to use one remote to control the laptop and your TV and stream HD videos straight from the A300 easily.
Other features also include a built-in FM tuner and a pair of harmon/kardon speakers with Dolby Sound Room technology. While the volume for the speakers was good, we didn't quite like how it handled the bass output as we noted some distortions during our audio playback test.
With an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor running at 2.5GHz, you'll be correct in assuming that the A300 will deliver the goods. Our PCMark05 test showed that the A300 scored a decent 6465 marks for its system test compared to HP's dv3000, which only scored 4867. While both notebooks actually scored similar results (the dv3000 is just that slightly higher thanks to its T9500 processor) in the PCMark05 CPU test, the better system score of the A300 can be possibly attributed to a better tuned system or its superior graphics card.
The A300 uses a ATI Radeon HD 3650 and based on the results of our 3DMark06 test, gaming and HD playback will not be a problem for the A300. Scoring an impressive 4311 marks, the A300 does better than the MSI GX600 gaming laptop which scored 4093. It also ran Quake 4 pretty well, returning a frame rate of 56.2 at 1024 x 768. Furthermore, we also did another test using a full HD movie trailer and found that the A300 could handle HD playback smoothly without any skips.
Long time detractors of previous Toshiba's business-like approach to laptop design will be pleasantly surprised by the flashy style of the new series. That's not to say Toshiba's sacrificing looks for performance, as we found to our delight that the Satellite A300 was able to hold its own against its contemporaries. Battery performance was also decent; our DVD test showed that the A300 lasted for 99 minutes. Chances are though you'll probably be keeping this substantial 2.78kg laptop at home or at the office, so battery life isn't really an issue. If you're looking for a decent entertainment unit with a little something more, do keep Toshiba's Satellite A300 in mind the next time you go laptop shopping.