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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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  • Slaimus - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Can you add a gaming battery life test? I think there is an area where this laptop should have a trump card compared to one with a dedicated graphics card. Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I think it's clear that Llano is a good laptop APU and that AMD has created a specific market segment as a result. Llano is OK for an inexpensive desktop systems but low end Bulldozer CPUs and discrete graphics would be far better. Trinity will follow Llano so AMD has many good products in the pipeline, which is great for consumers. Reply
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    People (anandtech staff) are putting too much value in CPU performance. Yes, the SB i7s kick the bejesus out of any Llano in CPU tasks. Truth is, the vast majority of users don't make use of that kind of performance the vast majority of the time (or ever). Good enough performance for less money is a much better choice than more performance than you need for considerably more money. I'll take a Honda Civic for 20k over a McClaren for 1M, because I'm never going to drive at 240mph either way. Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    LOL... Intel: faster spell check, can't play games. You winner! Reply
  • BSMonitor - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    You are absolutely wrong. MOST people don't play FPS on their $600 laptop, nor would they EVER want to. That kind of gaming is so niche that it really doesn't register in the grand scheme.

    People want all their applications to run quickly and smoothly. They want their iTunes to convert songs as fast as possible. And they want to do these things simultaneously.

    CPU performance is EVERYTHING. If you want GPU performance, you don't want an IGP or APU, you get a dedicated chip.
    Reply
  • bji - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    While both yours and the O.P.s points are gross generalizations, I tend to agree with the O.P. more. Everybody knows that CPU speed reached a point of diminishing returns years ago, with the newest, fastest processors hardly distinguishable from budget processors in most tasks. And although I don't know this for sure, I espect that most people who buy laptops, let alone people buying budget laptops, don't do very CPU-intensive tasks with them very often. These two points alone make CPU speed highly insignificant for most users.

    GPU performance is definitely noticeable though; if you do any gaming at all, you are going to easily be able to tell the difference between GPU performance at every level.

    I think that for most people, having a laptop that is "good enough" in every category is a vast improvement over a laptop that is overkill in one department (CPU) and lacking in another (GPU).
    Reply
  • jabber - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    As I've said before I could put a Athlon II 3Ghz dual core in a PC and i7 in another and my customers wouldnt be able to tell the difference for what they do. They just dont care. Ultimate CPU performance for many is a non issue. As long as they dont keep seeing the old eggtimer like they did with their old single core 3Ghz P4s they are happy.

    What does bug them is slow HDD access. If I put a 64GB SSD in the Athlon box and a 1TB 7200rpm in the i7 box they will take away the Athlon one everytime even if I sold them for the same price.
    Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    For most regular users, accessing e-mail, Youtube and Facebook is all they really need or want. If that wasn't the case, no one would buy MBAs or tablets.

    The A6 and A8 with quad-core is more than smooth enough. AMD demoed it earlier in the year to show how good multitasking is compared to Core IX.

    Raw CPU power is for bragging rights and server applications.
    Reply
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Oh but I'm not absolutely wrong. Not wrong at all in fact, although I did overgeneralize as bji pointed out. People DO play games on their laptops. They're called college kids (between classes, during classes, always with the world of warcraft/sims/whatever they're hooked on). And like I said, i7 vs. APU is no contest CPU-wise, but both processors run applications quickly and smoothly; it's the HDD that slows you down the most. I'd also wager a bet that more and more websites and programs will start to utilize hardware acceleration (i.e. gpu) more frequently and effectively.

    If you want your iTunes songs converted faster and never want to run anything GPU intensive, go ahead and spend the extra money on an intel cpu.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Where you're completely missing the point is that there's no need to give up CPU performance just to get a better iGPU. So this Toshiba laptop can be had for around $600 ($700 MSRP). Who would pay $700 for an A6 laptop when you can grab an i5-2410M with Optimus GT 540M starting at under $700:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtool...

    But it's not quite so simple, is it? Toshiba gives you a Blu-ray combo drive for $600, and that's currently about a $90 upgrade if you do it on your own. Which is of course part of the reason we feel the Toshiba L775D is priced appropriately, at least when you can get the S7226 model for $600. Would you really want to pay $700 for an A6 (or even A8) when you could get Sandy Bridge with Optimus graphics (e.g. faster in applications and applications, with better battery life provided you're not trying to play a game untethered) for the same price? If so, I'd question your judgement, just like I would question the judgement of an average joe going out and buying a $100,000 car he can't afford.

    But that's why we have the Gateway NV55S05u selling for $580 after a $120 instant rebate, and HP Pavilion dv6-6140us for $600 after $100 instant rebate and $50 mail-in rebate. Both of those come with A8-3500M, and the HP gets you Blu-ray combo thrown into the mix. To those that think I/we are biased in favor of Intel, we're not. Llano is a good product for the target market, provided it's priced appropriately. Manufacturers know this as well, so they're dropping prices on Llano laptops and cutting margins, because otherwise the laptops won't sell.

    Your analogy about vehicles, incidentally, is absurd. Sure, a Honda Civic for $20K is definitely more practical than a McLaren F1 for $1M, but that's stupid -- nobody is talking about a McLaren F1 here. If Llano is a Civic, the McLaren F1 would be a desktop GTX 580 SLI with hex-core i7-980X all stuffed into a 13" chassis with an amazing display, but a keyboard that's a bit difficult to use (which obviously doesn't exist because nobody has even tried to make a $30000 laptop). An Alienware M18x SLI notebook is "only" six times the cost of a Llano laptop, so that would be something like a tricked out Landrover or Hummer. And if we're looking at stuff like mainstream $1000 laptops--Dell XPS 15 for instance--we'd be talking about sedans and minivans. Those certainly have a place in the world.

    What if you could find a vehicle that gets better gas mileage than the Civic, has a top speed and acceleration that are twice that of the Civic, and better handling as well, and it's available with essentially the exact same features, size, etc. as the Civic at a very small price premium. Like the McLaren F1 equivalent laptop, such a car doesn't actually exist (that I know of), but if you could have that for $22K, wouldn't you pay the extra $2k (10%) to get improved gas mileage and performance? Okay, you might want a better keyboard than the Acer linked above, so what about if it costs $24K, or $26K?

    And that is the real question you have to answer. It's also why making blanket statements about how Llano is awesome, or Llano sucks, or Intel laptops are too expensive, or Intel IGP sucks, etc. are pointless. Depending on the specific needs of an individual, one or more of those statements might be true, but we are all individuals. Last time I checked, we aren't all clones with identical needs/wants/desires.
    Reply

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