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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  • drumhellar - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Is it feasible to get measurements of display latency on laptop panels? Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    I do like Llano for laptops, but I am frustrated by the people who keep excusing the lousy CPU performance by saying that it is "good enough" for office tasks, web surfing, and e-mail. They then criticize Intel for having lousy graphics.

    However, in the same way that AMD cpu performance is "good enough" for these tasks, I would also argue that the HD3000 is also "good enough" for 90 percent of the casual users.

    Only if you intend to do some light gaming (very limited at that) would the better graphics performance of Llano be of much benefit, in my opinion.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    The problem with your argument is the CPU power in Llano IS more than adequate for most tasks, having a faster CPU yields little benefit to the day to day experience. Intel graphics on the other hand are simply too slow, and the drivers quite honestly are garbage. Llano is a more balanced processor, it's that simple.

    I would also say that Anandtech.com picked probably one of the worst examples to review, the Toshiba unit is quite poor. Either way, the satisfaction rates of the Llano units so far has been extremely positive, people are very happy with them. Goes to show that synthetic benches are quite useless in predicting the overall experience.
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    I agree with you that CPU power in Llano is probably adequate for most tasks.
    And Llano is indeed a more "balanced" processer. In fact as Anand said, it may be too directed to the GPU. My point was that for most users, HD3000 is also adequate qraphically, while delivering superior CPU performance.

    You say the HD3000 is "simply too slow". Too slow for what, except gaming, in which I already gave the edge to Llano? If one wanted the superior CPU performance of Sandy Bridge, what tasks would they not be able to do, other than gaming, because of the weaker graphics? I am not trying to be sarcastic or agrumentative, because I seriously dont know of anything the average user would not be able to do because of the HD3000.
    Reply
  • DudleyUC - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    frozentundra, you're right. HD3000 is good enough for everything except games. I wonder, what with hardware acceleration available, how many flash and HTML5 games there are/will be that will be too demanding for HD3000. Regardless, if a user doesn't do any gaming, it's a better idea to pick the best CPU at a given price point (taking into consideration build, display quality, etc.). Reply
  • joe_dude - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Couldn't wait for a review, so I got the HP G4 (same AMD A6-3400m).

    Using K10Stat, it was (relatively) easy to OC *and* undervolt. Speed went from 1.4 GHz -> 1.8 GHz, turbo from 2.3 GHz -> 2.8 GHz, and uses 10% to 15% _less_ power now than at stock (!!!).

    So yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. :)

    Note: It could easily OC above 2 GHz (non-turbo), but the power consumption and heat were too high (Prime95 + Furmark).
    Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    blu Ray, seriously? Take 100 bucks off the price and DON'T include blu ray. It ads literally NO value to the laptop. I'd go so far as to say it makes it LESS valuable because now I have to go through the trouble of taking it out, putting in a dvd drive and selling it on ebay. Once you factor in time and effort I'm losing money. IF, that is a big IF, I want 1080p video running on my laptop, I will plug in my external hard drive. Give me USB 3.0, at least 2 ports and drop the price 600 bucks and you've got something. Wanna hit that 700 dollar price mark? 1080p screen please. Reply
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I am amazed at the endless stream of laptop reviews of units sporting the new LLano chips that bemoan the low speeds the apu's are set at, without even mentioning that buyers are, at the moment anyway, not bound by these speeds...huh? Yes its true. These present llano apu's are COMPLETELY UNLOCKED!!

    And this despite EVERY desktop llano review noting the huge performance gains to be had with the slightest bit of overclocking. Now before you all give me the knee jerk response..i.e. "OMG you CAN'T overclock a LAPTOP!!!!" let me put your lock step minds at ease...for while that may very well be true with this herd of reviewers, it is NOT the case with everyone else...WHY? Because not only do the LLano chips overclock like banshee's, they also and at the same time massively UNDERVOLT!!! giving the least technical buyer out there, the opportunity to hugely increase performance while at the same time, reducing voltage, and thus energy use, and thus HEAT. Its all free, and its all built in. Anyone wanting to know what they can really expect out of a LLano laptop should waste no time heading over to the notebookreview HP Pavilion forum where page after page of information on this subject lays it all out.

    Now for the 'hook'....how about an A-8 3530mx equipped lappie with a discrete amd 6570m running in what amd refers to as 'dual graphics' mode...laying down a 3dmark11 of p2100 plus.....with a Graphics score of just under 2200!!!...That's i series quad and 560m territory folks....but try and find any reference from the 'reviewers' to such possibilities. Now that $699.00 buy in price is looking a little better, eh?...Let me give you a sense of scale here.

    In HP's new Pavilion dv6 line we have nearly identical intel and amd based units to compare. The 'i' based unit with the huge advantage of the intel SandyBridge quad, AND a 'to within an inch of its life' overclocked 6770m (as opposed to the 'z' version's lesser 6750m) along with the requisite 'garage' sized utility fan to keep it from melting, can 'almost' get within 100 points of the 3dmark11 overall score, and almost 300 points of the Graphics score- both put up by the amd based 'z' unit referred to above, a unit (btw) that can game at hours at those clocks sitting on a std two fan laptop cooler, and not get past 78C.

    "But WAIT" u may say. "We're talking the A-6 series here, NOT the A-8's "...well glad you brought that up.
    Turns out its ALSO possible to run an A-6 to the same clocks or better than the A-8's to the point that a 3dmark11 in the 2000's can be had...

    Bottom line, Amd has built a rather amazing little package here, and set it up to run in an extremely conservative manner. I have no idea why. If you have any interest in multi-threaded apps, and/or not entirely casual dx10 or 11 gaming, these LLano based laptops represent the most serious 'bang for buck' to come down the pike in a very long while.
    Something you will apparently never hear from a laptop 'reviewer'.
    o
    Reply
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I neglected to mention that battery life can indeed run over 5 'real hours' with a std. 6 cell. AND,
    that tho this reviewer's unit is priced at 699, you can find 'other' mfg's fully equipped boxes in the 500's. If you look at the hp's you can (with the obligatory coupon) set yourself up with a full boat 1080p screened model with Blu-ray, a discrete 6750, and a hi-performance 9cell (u do NOT want to hear how long you get on battery:) and the whole nine yards for something around $800.00 Pretty amazing really.
    o
    Reply
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Comparable to the subject of the article, but better, i.e. this model DOES have dual graphics..
    Best Buy has the Asus Llano with the A-6 in it for 449.00. At that price you're talking at least a hundred less than a tablet, 50 more than a good netbook...
    Seems like a no-brainer to me :)

    o
    Reply

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