The Toshiba Satellite U500 sets itself apart from the crowd not only by its design but also by its smart features such as hard drive protection and an Eco utility. It does not follow the current trend of ultra thin and light notebooks but it seems to favour solid build quality and style. It is a little heavier than other similar notebooks but not heavy enough to hamper carrying it anywhere.
Under the hood the U500 has an Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 (2.53Ghz) processor and 4GB of RAM. It runs beautifully and we had no problems at all running simple programs like office productivity packages as well has more intensive programs like Adobe Photoshop. The keyboard is a good size and wasn’t cramped when typing; however, the touchpad is a little too small.
The base of the unit is quite thick by today’s standards and the notebook weighs a little more than we are used to for something of this size. However, it comes with a six cell battery as standard so you have to expect it will weigh a little more. We tested the battery life with a series of draining tests and found that it was able to last around 2hours 20minutes during full video playback.
While it won’t be able to run the latest games, the unit should be able to run some older titles due to its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics chip. It allows it to run HD video flawlessly and helps greatly with graphic intensive programs.
The 13.3 inch display has a native resolution of 1280×800 at 16:10 aspect ratio and is bright and clear. The image quality is quite impressive and the desktop space is more than sufficient. The notebook also has a 320GB hard drive, a PCI express slot, 3 USB slots, HDMI and a fingerprint reader to security.
The features suggest this notebook is targeted at business users (the inclusion of Windows Vista Business edition is a big tip off too) but it is also suitable for non-business consumers as well. It certainly has a good deal of grunt and appears to be more rugged than many similar models we have seen from other manufacturers.
One of the neat features it has is hard drive protection which automatically moves the drive heads out of position when a jolt or sudden movement is detected. There are plenty of other notebooks on the market that have this feature but rarely do we see it work as well as it does here. Even the slightest bump it picked up giving the hard drive ample protection against failure.
We also quite liked the ECO utility that allows you to see, in real time, the condition of your computer. It will tell you where system resources are being spent and vital information about the battery and CPU. The most impressive thing about it is that you can even see details such as battery health giving you an excellent idea on how well your battery is charging and when you can expect to fully replace it.
Naturally, the U500 comes with a host of networking options including the regular Ethernet, v.92 dial-up modem and wireless 802.11(a/g/n) WiFi. It also comes with Bluetooth v2.1. The entire unit is covered in an almost crocodile skin finish in mocha black colour. The keyboard is black gloss and backlit with an LED light. Toshiba offers a 1 year warranty with the U500.
The U500 combines style and power well. It doesn’t cost the earth and has an excellent range of features that appeal to the business crowd as well as regular users as well.