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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  • Rookierookie - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Pricing this at $699 brings this into competition with the Dell XPS 15, which starts at $799 with i5-2410M and a Nvidia GT 525M. You trade off on some utilities, but it's basically a much faster laptop for about $100 more.

    At $599 this becomes a much more attractive option.
  • nitrousoxide - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    No, for that $100 you can get an SSD. And it feels "much faster" than the XPS 15 with HDD.
  • prdola0 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    SSD with usable size for $100? No. Not really. XPS 15 is a much better choice.
  • JGabriel - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Dustin Sklavos @ Top: "I do honestly think two faster AMD cores would've been a better call than four slow cores"

    For low-end home users, the most common problem I've seen is thread clutter. We're talking about people who aren't very tech literate, and load up their machines with tons of little tech gewgaws to tell them the weather, list headlines, perform animations when they get mail, make their mouse cursor "cute", and so on.

    I suspect this is one of AMD's target markets for Llano. If so, one can see the argument in favor of more slow cores over few fewer fast ones. These are people who don't need to get anything done quickly, they just need a lot of low-demand things done simultaneously.
  • jfelano - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It will be $599
  • ckryan - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The contrast ratio chart shows that laptop screens are usually not very good. Not that its newsworthy, but how do manufacturers expect to keep selling even midrange laptops when you can get a tablet with a bitchin screen and better battery life. Not that the two devices roles are interchangeable for many tasks, but I for one won't be buying another laptop until screens get better.
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    It is a shame that the Radiance (HP Envy line) screen maker went out of business! madness
  • LordConrad - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    As someone who wears glasses, I personally like my screens with a slightly lower resolution because everything is natively larger. I know you can adjust font and icon sizes in Windows, or simply change the resolution, but I consider these changes to be a last resort option. I loved my last HP dv7 laptop, it was a bit bulky but it had a beautiful 1440x900 screen that was just right for my eyesight. My current laptop is a slightly smaller and less bulky dv6 with a 1366x768 screen, which is also perfect for my eyesight. With both laptops I had the option to get a higher resolution screen, which they probably don't include on the review systems you get.

    Just keep in mind that not everyone has 20/20 (or better) vision.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Actually my eyesight is pretty dire, too.

    The thing is, high resolution screens seem to tend to produce better color, better contrast, and better viewing angles. I'd take one of those at a lower-than-native resolution at this point, just because they LOOK better.
  • ckryan - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    My eyesight is pretty good, and I no longer prefer maximum DPI. A 1920X1200 display is great at 24", but in a 15" laptop it's definitely not for everyone. I told a family member not to get one as an upgrade in a Dell Vostro a couple years ago; She runs it at half the native resolution. It is a pretty good TN screen, much better than the other options, but just way to fine pitched. I'm to the point where I will happily take a better panel display at a lower res than a much higher TN panel. It would be different if WIndows was better about scaling, but you can only do so much by adjusting DPI display settings.

    Still, I'm pretty serious about not buying another laptop until I can get a display in the style to which I'm accustomed these days. Whenever I pick up my laptop I die a little on the inside. The viewing angles are terrible, black level is absurdly high, contrast is low, and this is the upgraded panel in the Dell D630 14" I'm using. At least I have the docking bay for it.

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