Lose the Gloss, Toshiba

Though most of the industry has been moving away from glossy plastic, it seems like Toshiba must be sitting on an absolute stockpile of it. That's the only explanation I can think of for how pervasive it is on their notebooks compared to the competition. While the Taiwanese manufacturers (Acer, Asus, Clevo, MSI, Compal) oftentimes have notions of style that seem unusual for American consumers, the thinking behind Toshiba's notebook aesthetic is downright inscrutable. Toshiba has been catering to Americans long enough to know better and for a time they did; older Toshiba notebooks were more austere and of generally excellent quality.

Our review unit comes with a cherry red lid and interior finish, but Toshiba offers black, silver, and brown finishes as well. Glossy plastic on the lid can be irritating but at least makes a modicum of sense, and under all of the colored finishes is a tasteful pattern.

The color scheme inside the notebook is also reasonably tasteful, but again the major complaint is the relentless use of glossy plastic: the only place Toshiba doesn't employ it is the bottom of the unit. For a second it looked like they might have gone with matte plastic for the speaker grilles above the keyboard, but then I looked at them from another angle and they reflected a healthy enough amount of light to prove me wrong. Of course there's glossy plastic used for the screen bezel, too, but at least it doesn't seem as asinine here (where glossy plastic is used everywhere) as it does on other notebooks (where glossy plastic is only used on the bezel and maybe the lid.)

The more astute reader has probably noticed fingerprints on the image of the keyboard: that's because the L645D's keyboard is glossy and flex-riddled. Typing on it isn't a tremendous chore, but it's not a pleasant experience either. The keys feel somewhat mushy, and the odd bevelling of the surfaces combined with the glossy finish feels downright bizarre to the touch. The WASD cluster on my desktop keyboard looks like Pigpen had a field day with it; I can't imagine what these keys are going to look like when they're put under aggressive use.

The delineation of the touchpad beneath the keyboard is next to impossible to spot in the photo, but it sports a different texture in use and is surprisingly comfortable. This is actually one of the strong suits of the L645D; while using it I've never felt a great need to plug in an external mouse the way I have with other review units, and there's even a dedicated touchpad toggle. There's strong action on the buttons, too.

Toshiba advertises "Dolby Advanced Audio" for their speakers, but in practice I found sound quality to be par for the course as far as laptop speakers are concerned: tinny, devoid of bass, and needing to be nearly maxed out to reach an enjoyable audio level. In a pinch these are going to be fine, but anyone planning on using this notebook for multimedia is going to want to either connect other speakers or use headphones.

Finally, the bottom of the notebook has the usual and much appreciated hatches for the user-upgradeable memory, hard disk, and wireless connectivity.

While I haven't been the most charitable to Toshiba in regard to the design of the L645D, there's a crucial component missing here that bears repeating: pardon my French, but the damn thing can be found for $619. At that price, Toshiba is aiming this thing square at Joe Sixpack, someone who wants as much computer as he can get without spending up.

Introducing the Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4106 AMD's Fastest Mobile Dual-Core


View All Comments

  • Taft12 - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    Starcraft II has higher requirements than the rest of this list, but it is the most popular PC game on the market by a mile. Please include it (low settings of course) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    This is the list of *old* games I'm testing. Anything on the current list will also be tested. You can already see those results in the HP dm1z review:
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    We already have low settings SC2 numbers for every low-powered notebook we test, SC2 is in our suite. Reply
  • LeftSide - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    COD4 or COD5. My Dell studio 14 with nvidia 9400m can play cod4 at 1366x768 with low settings. World at War is too much too handle. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    Hmmm... I've got so many FPS titles in there already. I suppose I can try COD4, which is a slightly newer take on Quake 4 engine IIRC. Reply
  • UNHchabo - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    I have two suggestions:

    1) Killing Floor or Red Orchestra. As far as I know, you don't have any UT2.5 games on your list, and some lower-end graphics chips can still struggle on it.
    2) At least one racing game: maybe Need For Speed: Undercover, or Trackmania Nations.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    I figure if Unreal Tournament 3 can run okay, anything on the UT2.5 engine should be okay as well.

    The racing genre is pretty unrepresented, true. I suppose one of the NFS games will do; I'm trying to remember what the last one I purchase is. NFS: Carbon I think. I remember playing Underground 1 or 2 and then Carbon, and felt like the series had lost me. What about NFS: World? Is that too demanding, or have they made it work well with slower systems?

    Also, I forgot that League of Legends is supposed to be in the above list as well. I suck at it, but I can at least play against the computer. :-)
  • cdeeter - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    How about one of the older Need for Speed games like Most Wanted or Underground? That way you would have a racing game in the mix. Reply
  • HHCosmin - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    this is so stupid what this companies do. i think they deserve a little suing. they give you crap autonomy because they are too lazy to care about integration. for some time i thought that amd cpus were not that great as power usage goes. well... not anymore. sony proved that you can get good runtime with even a small battery with an amd platform. toshiba, asus, dell etc care crap about optimizing the platform (and think this is the case for intel to some degree). these machines are for mobile use so runtime is more important than raw power! do you hear me dear integrators?! they also make life harder for users by feeding crapware and opting out of programs that would assure good quality for drivers and would not cost them anything.... the platform is as good as the software is so use you brainz so good, uptodate drivers we need. do not really see much use for optical drives especially in small laptops and mostly in general. why is gbit lan missing? why all this obsession for gloss? i have some hard time what kind of person makes such decisions? do they know anything about IT in general? if they do it really does not show. i believe these companies really deserve some protests. my protest is simple... right now i believe has some dumb people around that make dumb selections of hardware. Reply
  • HHCosmin - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    fully agree with Dustin. why have a expensive blueray drive in a budget machine? why not bigger battery? why not gbit lan? why not bluetooth? there are some decisions that make this look like some people at toshiba are very confused. this laptop could have been a lot better and cheaper but some toshiba dorks screw around. this really pisses me off. Reply

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