Well it has been a funny old morning. As I sit here writing this article, I am currently seated in my car behind the steering wheel, with one end of my lovely stationary blue vehicle sticking out of the garage and the other half stuck inside. Alas my drive-way has quite an incline and unfortunately with the car low on petrol, it has been unable to sup up the required juice to muster just enough fluid to start up. I guess it is a bit like me being unable to wake up without my coffee and one sugar and the car is having a similar kind of fussy morning moment.
So as I wait here for a very very nice man to tow me off the drive onto the flatness of the road, I take a moment to enjoy the portable Toshiba Satellite Pro L650-165 Laptop, which thankfully has wireless Internet so I am not totally stranded. I may be stuck here waiting for a few hours, but at least I can put this time to good use.
Toshiba have been involved with laptops for over 25 years now and although there is a bristling marketplace of brands and models to choose from, this Toshiba variant has impressed me greatly.
The Operating System
I have been using Windows right back to version 3.1 (think of the command prompt DOS days!) and of all the versions released over the many years, Microsoft’s Windows 7 is by far the best and to be exact in this case, this laptop comes pre-installed with the Windows 7 Home Premium edition. This Windows love is not simply because it is the latest incarnation, actually it is due to many of the right decisions being made by the powers that be and any issues you may have had with Windows Vista have now been rectified. You also receive the 64-bit version, which essentially means you have access to more memory (RAM) if you so desire and it all feels that bit more responsive and stable.
The casing of the laptop actually looks quite simple, with its black charcoal-like appearance revealing very little to the casual eye. This hides under the skin though a powerful collection of hardware that will work wonders for any business applications you may wish to use, or for the gamers among us, the capability to enjoy recent power hungry titles wherever you may be.
The processor is certainly no slouch, crunching all those numbers at a very respectable rate of 2.13GHz on this Intel Core i3 330M dual core CPU and in conjunction with the lightning fast ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics hardware, you can experience many of what the industry once termed ‘multimedia’. YouTube has a wide selection of 1080p resolution videos, which will certainly put any specification under strain, so I spent a good thirty minutes streaming these high resolution samples and amazingly I enjoyed a flawless playback no matter how intense the action.
In fact the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is so blindingly fast, I was even able to enjoy a few games as well. No I am not talking about Solitaire, although of course no Windows PC would be truly complete without it. Actually I am referring to fairly recent titles such as Call of Duty World at War, which is a very demanding first person shooter with vast landscapes, countless soldiers and violent explosions. Even with options set to high levels and 4x anti-alaising enabled to reduce the amount of jaggies on the edges of polygons, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L650-165 Laptop just lapped it all up without choking once, providing a solid gaming platform.
So if it can handle games at such a terrific speed, imagine what it can do for your humble office applications and presentations. Exactly!
The Beauty of HDMI
The Toshiba Satellite Pro L650-165 Laptop comes with an HDMI port capable of sending 1080p information. Most televisions have this type of input nowadays and the benefits of it also being featured on this laptop will soon become obvious. In the past, if I had the urge to put the laptop’s display through my 40″ HDTV, I would first need to purchase a VGA cable, but this is quite large and chunky and only sends video information. I would then have to purchase the appropriate audio cable too and with a bit of fiddling behind the television, I would see and hear everything I would usually view only on my laptop screen.
There is a much simpler route though thanks to HDMI. HDMI is capable of sending both video and audio through one single cable, so that cuts down on the fuss straight away. There is a website I love called twit.tv, that streams live video and pre-recorded episodes of technology related goodness. Previously I would have been limited to either watching it sat at my desk, on my laptop screen or messing about with a bunch of cables. The whole thing looks very messy, however with HDMI I can view these shows, YouTube videos, DVD movies, photos and websites through a far larger high definition television screen. You can of course also use HDMI compatible projectors as well, perfect for presentations.
External SATA Port
You may have heard of SATA, but how about eSATA? Well first of all, SATA is a type of connection for modern internal hard drives and eSATA implies an ‘external’ port, which can also be used for compatible mass storage devices. There are already many USB and Firewire external hard drives available, however eSATA provides a more efficient transfer. It is certainly nice to have this option, however if eSATA isn’t a requirement for your needs, this port also doubles as an extra USB socket.
This Toshiba laptop features a 15.6″ Widescreen TFT display with a native resolution of 1366 x 768. Colours and more importantly text are certainly clear, however there is a little bit of reflection on the screen which can be a little distracting. It is not a major issue, but it is something to be aware of.
If you require plenty of storage space, you will also be pleased with the 320GB internal hard drive. This provides plenty of room for manoeuvre for even the most demanding file sizes and of course if this still isn’t enough, you can fall back on the eSATA port as mentioned previously. The laptop also comes with 2GB of internal memory (RAM) and with a 64-bit version of Windows pre-installed already, you can take advantage and upgrade even further right up to 8GB if you really want to push this hardware gem right to its uppermost limits.
On the right hand side of the laptop, there is a Multi-Card Reader (supports SD™ Cards up to 64 GB, Memory Stick® up to 256 MB, Memory Stick Pro™ up to 16 GB and MultiMedia Card™ up to 2 GB), two USB 2.0 ports, DVD re-writable drive and power port. On the left a VGA connection, HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet LAN port, eSATA/USB 2.0 port, microphone and headphone sockets. Above the screen you will also notice a built in webcam and microphone for those who use applications similar to Skype, which works superbly well for video and audio conversations.
The speakers are positioned cleverly, offering a good sense of stereo sound and the actual keyboard works well for your typing sensibilities. Finally of course you will also benefit from the wireless networking right up to the recent ‘n’ standard for accessing the Internet. Bluetooth offers the option of wireless mice, headsets and much more.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro L650-165 Laptop surprised me greatly. Maybe I was expecting a lot less for the relative size of this small package, however it actually packs a powerful selection of hardware that will meet much of your home, business and gaming desires. The supplied HDMI and eSATA ports offer superb flexibility and you are left with a wonderful laptop from Toshiba that offers diversity, a good selection of features and all without breaking the bank.
- CPU: Intel® Core™ i3-330M Processor (clock speed : 2.13 GHz)
- Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650
- Memory: 2,048 MB (maximum expandability : 8,192 MB – technology : DDR3 RAM (1,066 MHz))
- Hard Drive: 320GB
- Display: 15.6″ (1366 x 768)
- Physical Dimensions: W x D x H : 380.0 x 250.0 x 28.0 (front) / 37.9 (rear) mm
- Weight : starting at 2.50 kg