Toshiba Satellite A300 and U400 notebooks

It’s that time of year again, and by that I mean it’s time for Toshiba’s bi-annual update of its notebooks in both the consumer and business ranges. We have tested two models, the 13.3-inch U400 and the more traditional 15.4-inch A300. Despite almost identical looks, these two notebooks sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, one meant for business and travel, the other for home and multimedia use.

It’s that time of year again, and by that I mean it’s time for Toshiba’s bi-annual update of its notebooks in both the consumer and business ranges. We have tested two models, the 13.3-inch U400 and the more traditional 15.4-inch A300. Despite almost identical looks, these two notebooks sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, one meant for business and travel, the other for home and multimedia use.

U400

The U400 is the newcomer to Toshiba’s stable, sporting a sleek metallic look. It’s relatively lightweight, our model weighed in at just over 2kgs, but it won’t compete with the super-slim Portege R500. That said, it’s small enough to comfortably travel with, and it has all the amenities needed, such as a DVD multi-burner, three USB ports, SD card reader and HDMI. The keyboard is comfortable, and you’ll find the now-common media keys above it. The trackpad is lit up, making it easy to find if you’re working in the dark. There’s also a fingerprint reader nudged in between the mouse keys.

This notebook did relatively well in our tests, scoring a decent 74 in our Worldbench tests. It’s helped there by a T8300 Core 2 Duo CPU from Intel, and 2GB of RAM. It performed well in our battery test too; running a DVD at high settings, we managed to get over 3 hours running time.

The U400 is a comfortable travel companion, and its multimedia capabilities should take care of most of your needs once you get back home as well. The notebook comes with Vista Business preloaded, but carries a downgrade licence for XP Pro.

A300

The A300 is the workhorse in Toshiba’s new range, a model that should be familiar to many users. It has the same metallic look as the U400, but everything is larger in size. The most noticeable difference is the pair of Harman Kardon speakers, a sure sign that this notebook takes its multimedia seriously.

Sporting a Core 2 Duo T8100, the A300 managed to score an 81 in our Worldbench testing, which is a great score for the price of this machine. Our model came equipped with 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard disk and the ATI HD 3470 graphics card. Both models on test here also have Intel’s 4965AGN wireless adapter.

Oddly enough, the keyboards on both these notebooks are the same size horizontally, but the keys extend vertically higher on the A300. It makes for a very comfortable typing experience, and makes the A300 a contender for a semi-stationary home PC. Battery life on the A300 wasn’t the best we’ve tested, managing just less than two hours on the battery pack.

Bang for your buck, the A300 will be a hard notebook to beat. It scored surprisingly well in our tests, and it’s well equipped, with four USB ports, a DVD burner and an HDMI port. It also surprised us by adding an FM radio tuner, which is a first for me.

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Jan Birkeland

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