Toshiba's New Satellite

Fast, chunky consumer laptop serves as a CD burner and stand-alone CD player, and provides a SmartMedia card slot for quick digital-file sharing

WHAT'S HOT: Toshiba's latest consumer laptop features just about all the processing power, music and video perks, and file-sharing capabilities any self-respecting multimedia fan could want. With its Pentium III-1000/700 processor, it turned in an impressive PC WorldBench 2000 score of 157. That's plenty of power for you to watch DVD movies or burn CDs on the Satellite's combination DVD-ROM and CD-RW drive. And to get raw material into your notebook for digital video editing, the Satellite includes a high-speed IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port.

The Satellite 2805-S603 is also one of the few laptops we've seen with a slot for SmartMedia cards, which are thinner and lighter than PC Cards but bigger than Sony's Memory Stick. If you own a digital camera, a PDA, or another device that uses SmartMedia cards, you can transfer photographs, music, and other data to the Toshiba by simply inserting a card into the slot tucked beneath the combination drive.

Like many home and small-office portables, the Satellite 2805-S603 includes external audio-control buttons that turn it into a stand-alone CD player: Just pop your favorite disc into the combination drive and start, stop, or move through the tracks, all without turning on the notebook itself. The Satellite goes even further by providing extras such as a switch that lets you simultaneously power up the laptop and launch a DVD movie, and a separate subwoofer button that really kicks up the bass tones missing from most notebooks' stereo speakers. The audio buttons, which include a volume thumbwheel, sit in the screen hinge--a location that is slightly more convenient than the front, where most laptops have such controls. The only thing missing is an LCD panel for viewing track numbers and the time left in a song.

WHAT'S NOT: With a case that measures nearly 2 inches thick and weighs over 7.5 pounds (not including the AC adapter), the Satellite 2805-S603 is on the hefty side. This notebook would fit right in a home network thanks to its built-in network adapter; however, its lack of a docking connection makes it a less-than-ideal desktop replacement. Battery life is disappointing as well, at just 2 hours, 6 minutes.

WHAT ELSE: Attractive and nicely appointed for the well-connected multimedia maven, the gray-and-silver Satellite 2805-S603 boasts fixed optical and floppy drives, a spacious keyboard with an Internet launch button, side-by-side modem and network jacks, and twin USB connections. The laptop's eraserhead pointer works smoothly in conjunction with the crescent-shaped mouse buttons, which are flanked by small scrolling buttons. Do-it-yourselfers will have no trouble performing memory and storage upgrades. Toshiba provides both a thick print manual and several help resources on the desktop, including an electronic user guide and links to online technical support.

UPSHOT: With its Lotus SmartSuite productivity software, combination DVD-ROM and CD-RW drive, IEEE 1394 port, SmartMedia slot, big screen, and great music-CD controls, the Satellite 2805-S603 works well as a gaming machine and music center rolled into one.


Toshiba Satellite 2805-S603

PC WorldBench 2000 score of 157, Pentium III-1000/700 CPU, 256MB of RAM, 256KB L2 cache, Windows Millennium Edition, 15-inch active-matrix screen, NVidia GeForce2 Go graphics chip with 16MB of DDR RAM, 30GB hard drive, 6X DVD-ROM and 4X/4X/24X CD-RW combination drive, built-in V.90 modem and network interface, eraserhead pointing device, 8.8 pounds (including AC adapter and phone cord); Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition. One-year parts and labor warranty; free unlimited 24-hour toll-call tech support.

Street price: $2399


By Carla Thornton

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