Affordable Desktop Replacement – Toshiba Satellite M65-S809
At a retail starting price of $1299.99, the new Toshiba Satellite M65-S809 may be the last piece of evidence that this old adage needs: Bigger is better. The screen on this laptop is a wide 17 inches and bright as TruBrite, and all fit into a body that weighs only a hair over 7 pounds and looks as slick as anything Apple can put out.
The rest of the hardware will probably have you double-checking the price tag as well. There’s the double-layer DVD burner, 100 GB of hard drive, Harmon Kardon speakers, a FireWire port, three USBs, an S-Video, ExpressCard, a PC Card slot, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. And to power all that, the Satellite has a 1.73-GHz Intel Pentium M740 microprocessor and 520 GB of RAM (expandable to 2 GB). Granted the specs of the Satellite M65 S809 aren’t cutting edge, but you’re looking here at a solid desktop replacement laptop at an affordable price, not the notebook equivalent of Seabiscuit.
The software that comes with the M65-S809 isn’t shabby. You’ll get WinDVD Creator 2 Platinum Software from InterVideo for video-editing, plus Express Media Player software from Toshiba, which allows you to listen to CDs and play DVDs without opening up Windows. For burning on discs, there’s RecordNow! by Sonix. And for wireless simplicity, Toshiba has its ConfigFree tool that allows you to tap into a Wi-Fi without tapping out in frustration.
Put all of this together, and you have a notebook that runs far faster and longer than it should for its price. Rigorous (Laptopmag) testing on the Satellite M65 S809 came up with performance scores that outlapped its peers (203 on a MobileMark test), and battery life that was surprising (more than 4 hours, and not much less with Wi-Fi on).
For those pessimists and nitpickers out there, the old adage may come to mind: it’s too good to be true. And, yes, the Toshiba M65 S809 has its weak spots. Its keyboard could be considered cramped, its mouse button design awkward. You might even say that it’s wireless capabilities are middle of the pack.
But for what you’re getting at less than $1,500, a simple test drive before you buy will tell you whether those are deal-breakers. Otherwise, nitpickers and pessimists need not apply.
By Matthew Brodsky
Friday, February 10, 2006