Toshiba Satellite P35-s611 review
Toshiba bills the Satellite P35-S611 as "the ultimate gaming machine" but stocks it with a pile of last year's components. Faced with the demanding system requirements of high-octane games such as Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, today's top gaming laptops need to deliver sizzling performance--and many are doing so in cases that are slimmer and lighter than those of last year's top models. Unfortunately, the Satellite P35-S611 does not convert its massive size into massive power.
Weighing 9.3 pounds (10.8 pounds with its considerable AC adapter) and running approximately 16 inches wide, 11.25 inches deep, and just less than 2.25 inches thick including its rubber feet, the Satellite P35-S611 is one of the larger desktop-replacement notebooks we've recently seen, particularly since a number of vendors have begun to phase out their supersize Pentium 4 models. The Satellite P35-S611's lid is dark blue, and the interior is silver and black. The keyboard is quite wide; the keys are big and reasonably firm. The touch pad is a bit small for our liking, and the mouse buttons are nice and wide, but they're too slim, and they lack any texture to catch your fingers.
The Satellite P35-S611 has a wide-aspect 17-inch display that features a 1,440x900 native resolution; the screen's glossy covering is reflective, which can be distracting. To the right of the keyboard is a vertical row of multimedia controls for operating the Satellite P35-S611's optical drive; the laptop can play CDs (but not DVDs) without booting Windows first. We appreciate the Satellite P35-S611's external volume control wheel, but we wish that there was a mute button, too, and that they both were located near the rest of the multimedia controls. The machine is equipped with a pair of crisp, though not terribly loud, Harman Kardon stereo speakers, which sit below the keyboard in the lower right and left corners so that your hands don't block the speakers when you're typing. Still, we wish the speakers were situated along the front edge so that you could close the lid while playing a CD.
There aren't any major ports or connections missing. The Satellite P35-S611 has three USB 2.0 ports (one on the right, two in back); a four-pin, unpowered FireWire (a.k.a. IEEE 1394) port; a VGA connection for hooking up to an external monitor and an S-Video output for connecting to a TV; and one PCI Express card slot. Aside from a headphone and microphone jack, there's also a handy 4-in-1 memory-card reader that supports SD, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and XD formats. The slot has a removable rubber cover, good for keeping stray debris out of the slot; unfortunately, the cover is not permanently tethered to the notebook and it could easily be lost. For getting online, you get a V.92/56Kbps modem and 10/100 Ethernet connections, as well as built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi with Atheros SuperG technology. Our test unit was configured with a multiformat DVD burner. Toshiba bundles a decent software package with the Satellite P35-S611: our system arrived loaded with a trinity of Microsoft apps, including XP Home, Works, and OneNote, as well as ArcSoft ShowBiz DVD 1.3 and Sonic RecordNow for burning CDs and DVDs.
Priced at $1,699 (as of April 2005), the Satellite P35-S611 is on the less-expensive side for a gaming PC, though it features a decidedly limp combination of components. Built on a blazing 3.33GHz Intel Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading technology (which accounts for the laptop's large size), the Satellite P35-S611's gaming potential is undercut by a weak ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics chip with 64MB of video memory. Its 512MB of prior-generation 333MHz RAM and its gigantic, but sluggardly, 4,200rpm 100GB hard drive don't help matters, either. Though it delivered an adequate performance in CNET Labs office-productivity and Internet-content-creation tests, the Satellite P35-S611 simply couldn't compete with new (and substantially more expensive) Pentium M-powered gaming boxes, such as the Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2. In fact, the Satellite P35-S611 also got dusted by a slew of better-outfitted Pentium 4 machines, including the Voodoo Envy m760, the HP Pavilion zd8000, and the Fujitsu LifeBook N6010. Surprisingly, the Satellite P35-S611 fared slightly better in our battery-drain test(PA3383-1brs), holding out for nearly three hours.
Toshiba backs the Satellite P35-S611 with an industry-standard one-year limited parts-and-labor warranty, along with one year of 24/7 toll-free phone support. You can opt for several reasonably priced warranty upgrades, extending all the way up to four years of at-home service. Toshiba's support Web site is industrial strength and very well organized. It features sections for driver downloads, tech support, warranty and service, and interactive support. The Satellite P35-S611 comes with some nice support extras, including a system-recovery DVD and both a printed manual and a 230-page PDF user guide.
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