Top ultraportable laptops
Ideal for the users who value portability while demanding more performance than you'd get from a netbook, these notebooks stand out for their low weight and small footprint
Toshiba Satellite T235-S1345
Toshiba Satellite T235-S1345 Review, by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal August 16, 2010
Great HD video playback
Superlight and sturdy
Audio is tinny and flat
Keys are small and slippery
Bottom Line: This is a good notebook for multimedia watchers on the go, but not for heavy typers.
The Toshiba Satellite T235-S1345 is a lightweight ultraportable notebook with a good screen and an attractive, shiny red cover. Our review model, priced at $600, features an AMD Turion II Dual-Core K625 Processor, a 320GB hard drive, an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 integrated graphics engine, 4GB of RAM, and a 13.3-inch widescreen. It also features Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, a built-in Webcam (with included face recognition software) and microphone, and it runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
The T235-S1345 has a shiny, patterned cover with a tapered edge, and comes in red or black. The keyboard and wristpad is silver; the keyboard has a matte finish; and the wristpad is mirrored and features a textured version of the pattern on the cover. The entire unit feels sturdy, with thick hinges and a solid plastic casing. However, the mirrored/textured wristpad looks a little cheap.
The right side of the notebook has an HDMI output port, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combination port (with sleep and charge, always a nice touch), and a multicard reader. The left side features headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA output port, and an ethernet port. The T235-S1345 also has a built-in Webcam and microphone.
The T235-S1345 weighs a fairly light 3.8 pounds (4.4 pounds with accessories). It measures 12.6 inches wide by 8.8 inches high by 1.5 inches thick. While it's not quite down to netbook size, it's definitely ultraportable and sturdy.
The keyboard, smooth and silver, features chiclet-style keys. While the keys are widely spaced, they are a bit small. This, coupled with their smoothness, makes typing a little difficult. It's probably no issue if you plan on using the computer for nothing more than quick e-mails, but students and freelance writers alike will lament the inability to type quickly with accuracy.
The trackpad is smooth and flush with the textured wristpad. There are two smooth, mirrored buttons that slope downward with the edge of the computer. This makes the buttons a little hard to identify, but they're big and easy to press. The trackpad is wide and features smooth scrolling and multitouch gestures.
The glossy, 13.3-inch LCD screen is a native 1366 by 768 pixels, and pretty bright. Unlike a lot of other glossy screens we've seen, side-to-side viewing angles are decent: Three people sitting together could easily watch a video with minimal loss of color and brightness. Colors seem to be a little faded and washed out in general, but text and images are crisp; though the screen is bright, it may not be quite enough for outside use on a sunny day.
The T235-S1345 supports 720p high-definition playback, and video looks great on the 13.3-inch screen. A 720p version of the Nip/Tuck TV show played nicely from a flash drive, with no artifacting or stuttering. The lack of an optical drive is unfortunate, however--how much streaming 720p video is there on the Internet, really?
Audio is not quite as nice as video. The speakers are on the underside of the chassis, which means that sitting the laptop on your, well, lap, will dampen the sound quite a bit. The audio itself is tinny and flat, and only gets more so as you turn it up. The speakers are fairly loud, but they really sound awful when at their highest level. You'll definitely want to stick to headphones for this computer, lest your 720p high-def video experience be ruined by toneless, tinny audio.
Software includes the requisite Norton Internet Security and Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student trialware (30 days and 60 days, respectively), as well as a full version of Microsoft Works and a number of Toshiba utilities. The latter are mostly small potatoes: a few extra games, face recognition software for the Webcam, PC diagnostics tools, and so on. Toshiba also includes a shortcut to its online backup and the Toshiba "bulletin board," from which you can access things like the security center and the "eco Utility" option (which puts the computer in an energy-saving mode).
If you're looking for an ultraportable for keeping in touch and perhaps watching a movie or two, the Toshiba T235-S1345 may be the light-but-sturdy high-definition-playing notebook for you. While the keyboard is not terribly comfortable for typing lengthy, well thought-out, and thoroughly researched laptop reviews, it certainly won't bother you if you're just firing off a few e-mails here and there. The Toshiba T235-S1345 is multimedia-ready, ultralight and portable, and great for anyone on the go.