Toshiba Satellite 1130-S155

Tags:notebook computers,notebook computersToshiba Satellite 1130-S155 notebook computers,Toshiba Satellite 1130-S155 notebook computersnotebook computers notebook computers
The good: Fast; inexpensive; well equipped.

The bad: Limited configuration options; mushy keyboard and mouse buttons.

The bottom line: The Toshiba Satellite 1135 provides fast computing and a big screen for not much dough, but there are a few trade-offs.

Toshiba doesn't offer many configurations on the low-cost, mainstream Satellite 1135, nor does it provide much in the way of options, but if you can make this notebook fit your needs, you'll really get your money's worth. For one thing, the less-than-$1,100 notebook beats the pants off other laptops running the same processor at the same clock speed, including the Dell Inspiron 1100. For another, it comes with a big (though not high-resolution) screen, a built-in combo DVD/CD-RW drive, plenty of memory, and all the accoutrements for Wi-Fi except a radio in the standard model (an 802.11b-flavor radio adds $100 to the price tag.)
If you don't have a corporate IT department to requisition your computers and you have to pay your own way, the Satellite 1135 makes a lot of sense.The Toshiba Satellite 1135 uses basically the same shell as that of the Satellite 2435, which we reviewed recently. It's a roomy case, spreading out 13 inches wide by 11 inches deep, and it stands 1.75 inches high, making plenty of room for the Satellite 1135's 15-inch (diagonal) display. The 6.6-pound slab (7.5 pounds with the AC adapter) has beveled edges all the way around, making it comfortable to carry and giving the dark blue, glossy lid and black base a certain angular panache. The size and weight are about average for a mainstream notebook.

The Satellite 1135's front-loading optical drive doesn't slide into a swappable bay, unfortunately. Instead, like most mainstream desktops, the Satellite 1135 offers only a fixed drive, which means it doesn't pop out to make room for an auxiliary battery or a different drive. Hence, you might want to carry an extra main battery when you travel, which adds another pound to your travel weight, costs $149, and should replicate the three hours working time of the battery that CNET Labs tested.

While there are many admirable aspects of the Satellite 1135, some design decisions--namely, the crummy keyboard and touchpad--detract from the user experience. The left- and right-click mouse buttons feel mushy instead of responsive, the keyboard sags, the keys wobble, and the Insert key sits right next to the spacebar--an common location on Toshiba notebooks--which makes it more likely for you to accidentally hit it and delete text as you type. Speaking of the spacebar, it's only four keys wide, even though there's plenty of room to make it bigger. In addition to the Insert key's precarious location, the Start menu key hides away in the keyboard's upper-right corner. Also, we noticed that the touchpad, while accurate if treated very gently, stops dead when you press with more than a feather touch. (There's no pointing stick on the Satellite 1135).

The screen is big, but some of the colors seem washed out.

The Satellite 1135 features a Celeron processor running at 2GHz, 512MB of memory as standard equipment, and a 40GB hard drive. Toshiba equips the notebook with standard ports and connections along the edges, including dual Type II PC Card slots, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, a modem, S-Video, and a button to turn the Wi-Fi wireless networking on and off if you decide to include Wi-Fi when buying from Stereo speakers, which unfortunately deliver weak audio, sit on the sides near the front edge.

The 15-inch screen defaults to 1,024x768 resolution, which is really more appropriate for 12-inch and 14-inch screens. It seems stingy not to paint more pixels on such a big screen. Plus, the screen didn't impress us greatly. It's bright enough, but even so, blues look gray, and other colors appear slightly washed out. Also, the viewing angle is so narrow that you'll notice that the edges start to fade when you're facing the middle of the screen head-on.

You can choose between Windows XP Pro or XP Home. Considering the Satellite 1135's modest price, however, Toshiba's software bundle is fairly generous, including Microsoft Works and Intuit's Quicken Basic.In a small test group of mainstream notebooks, the Toshiba Satellite 1135-S155 came out on top in performance by a significant amount, beating two systems that have similar specs. Where the specs differ, however, is in the amount of system RAM: the Satellite 1135-S155 has 512MB of SDRAM compared to 256MB of SDRAM in the Dell Inspiron 1100 and the HP Pavilion ze4200. Thanks to this abundance of system memory, the Satellite 1135-S155 is able to push its performance to a fairly good level.