Baby Steps into the Present

Credit where credit is due to Toshiba: while a lot of the design points I took issue with on their older laptops are still present in the Satellite L775D-S7206, they're still definitely progressing with each refresh. In the case of the L775D-S7206, much of the shell has been upgraded to an attractive navy blue aluminum finish. It still picks up smudges and fingerprints, but it looks nowhere near as cheap as the explosion-at-the-gloss-factory finishes of old.

I'm more liable to forgive Toshiba's design trespasses on a notebook like this one because of its low pricetag, but they're still worth pointing out: glossy plastic does not belong on the screen bezel. In fact, that's really part of the problem with this notebook: while the aluminum finish is fantastic, Toshiba has managed to put glossy plastic just about everywhere you don't want it. The screen bezel should be devoid of glossy plastic yet there it is, and worse, the keyboard is still comprised of the same flat, glossy keys that I derided last generation. There's something seriously wrong when the cheaper notebooks in your line have better keyboards by virtue of just using matte plastic instead of gloss.

What makes that more frustrating is that Toshiba's keyboard layout is honestly one of the best I've seen. While Clevo continues to be utterly perplexed by the prospect of integrating a 10-key with the rest of the keyboard, Toshiba's layout is incredibly smart and as close to ideal as you could ask for. No keys are missing, the 10-key is the bog standard layout, and document navigation keys have their own row above the 10-key. Toshiba's layout is as good as I could ask for, I just wish they'd at least upgrade the rest of their notebooks to the keyboard they're using on their Tecra and Portege lines, or at least get rid of the gloss.

You'll also notice a stunning lack of media keys or touch-sensitive shortcuts above the keyboard. I've never liked the touch-sensitive strips and I'm happy to see it gone, though a few media shortcut keys would've been appreciated even as Fn combinations.

The touchpad is much easier to use, and thankfully it isn't a part of the chassis the way most inexpensive notebooks make it. You can see clearly in the photo that it's a different piece, and it's smooth and easy to track. The action on the mouse buttons is a little stiff, but not a huge deal: if you don't have an external mouse handy, you could do a lot worse than Toshiba's touchpad. The pad itself could be a bit larger, and the buttons are perhaps too large, but it works well regardless.

Honestly my biggest gripe is that Toshiba is still futzing with flat glossy keys and bulbous shell designs on their consumer notebooks. My experiences with Toshiba notebooks, barring design decisions, have typically been very positive, and anecdotally I have yet to see one actually die, no matter the age. Toshiba offers great options for budget users, and the navy blue aluminum panels are a major upgrade, but the overall curvy design still feels unattractive to me.

Budget DTR: The Toshiba Satellite L775D-S7206 Oh My Stars: Application Performance
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  • Crazymech - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Gotta agree with Dustin here.

    Tho I would like to add that I'm begining to think the problem is that the UI elements of windows aren't really being designed with this resolution in mind. I think Microsoft should start setting a 1920x1xx0 baseline resolution for designing the next UI, so that things wont be too small at our current standard.

    This would allow us to enjoy the higher PPI without straining our eyes to see the tiny details. Like iPhones 4's screen for example. Icon size just the same, just more PPI - lovely to look at.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I have crappy eyes, and a 17" laptop with 1920 x 1200 resolution. I normally run the screen at 1440 x 900, which looks great. I like the fact that I can go to 1920 x 1200 when I really need the extra real-estate, but i can't handle that resolution very long. it nice to have the option, though. Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I have really crappy eyes too, but I went to this thing they call an eye doctor (i.e. Walmart) and now while wearing these special lens type things I can actually see far away things just like I could when I was younger. I didn't realize this was an uncommon thing? Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The sarcasm is amusing but not entirely appropriate. Some of us with eye problems have a harder time getting them corrected as exactly. Despite my horrifically strong scrip and regular visits to the eye doctor, I still have trouble focusing sometimes. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Good comment Dustin. I still have decent vision, but I have had some problems that are not correctable that have decreased my vision somewhat. Believe me, it is really frightening to think that you might be losing vision in one or both eyes. Fortunately, the problem was not as serious as I first thought.

    However, I do know others that have very serious vision problems that are not totally fixable after many thousands of dollars of expensive surgery, much less a trip to Walmart. So I agree that seapeople's comment, intentionally or not, was not appropriate and is offensive to those who have serious vision problems.
    Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    IMHO, the NV75 is much better deal than the Toshiba. It comes with A8-3500m + dGPU. In Canada, it's $700 fully loaded with Blu-Ray.

    I think the A6 is better for low-end 13" to 15" laptops, where Intel + dGPU has a tendency to overheat (e.g. Acer TimelineX) or sounds like a jet engine in games.

    Also, the productivity benchmarks are very misleading. On the NV75 (and I assume the Toshiba as well), the system is very responsive for day-to-day use. The CPU is definitely NOT a bottleneck.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The Gateway NV75, at least the models I've seen, does not include a dGPU. Any Radeon HD with the letter "G" at the end of the model number refers to the graphics built into the Llano APU. That said, you're right, the NV75 does look like a better deal. Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The Canadian model has a 6650m with 1 GB of VRAM.
    http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/gateway-gat...

    The smallest AMD A6 laptop I can find so far is the 14" HP G4. Wanna review that one too? :>
    Reply
  • charliek45 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Hi Dustin,

    Would you be able to expand on the heat and noise section of this review? I own an old Asus laptop and it gets very hot and noisy while playing games, sometimes to the point of shutting down, so this is one of the most important criteria for me when selecting a laptop. Can you please compare the heat and noise under load to other laptops? In particular, I am interested to know whether Llano is able to run cooler than Intel + dedicated graphics cards when playing games and if so, how much cooler.
    Reply
  • MrCromulent - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    10/100 Ethernet... are you serious, Toshiba?

    Even for low-end machines that's unacceptable in this day and age.
    Reply

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