Toshiba Satellite P205 Review

The fingerprint magnet known as the P205

The past few Toshiba notebooks I’ve reviewed have not been as stellar as others on the market. With the Satellite P205, Toshiba has included features like a built-in webcam, an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, and DVD burner. Has Toshiba fixed its problems that have plagued them with mediocre reviews in the past? Read on to find out.

A first look at the P205 reveals plenty of ports, a bright, clear display, and full-size keyboard which many will enjoy using. After all, there are a decent amount of goodies inside this laptop. An Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 CPU running at 1.73Ghz, 200GB SATA hard drive, 5-in-1 media card reader, 17-inch WXGA TruBrite display, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a DVD Burner with Labelflash. Not too shabby. There’s also a slew of USB ports, a Firewire port, Ethernet port, ExpressCard slot, and 802.11b/g wireless.

As great as these feature appear however, using this laptop is not fun. It’s slow as hell and waking it up from sleep takes way longer than it normally should. I’d say these problems are attributed to Windows Vista Home Premium Edition and a slow hard drive. 200GB is great and all, but not when it’s spinning at 4200 RPMs.

After getting off to a bad start with the P205, I figured it could only be uphill from here. Toshiba has had a huge problem with wireless connections in the past and I’m happy to report that either Windows Vista or Toshiba has fixed the problem. I have no issues connecting to my home network or public WiFi networks. I’m very pleased Toshiba noticed this and worked to get the problem fixed, as it was starting to become ridiculous. This is 2007, well into the heart of the age of WiFi. There was no reason it should have been that hard.

Just as I was starting to feel better about using this notebook, I ran into more trouble. The included built-in webcam I thought would be fantastic. After all, this is a huge 17-inch laptop. If Apple’s 13-inch MacBook has a great camera built-in, why can’t Toshiba’s P205? Unfortunately for me, using the included software renders terrible looking images. A frame rate of no higher than 5 FPS was achieved and after ten minutes of use, I gave up and threw the laptop on the couch and went to bed.

Toshiba is still putting loads of crap software on their notebooks, by the way. I realize this is commonplace in most Windows-based laptops, but it’d be fantastic for Toshiba to at least cut out a third of the junk included on the P205. I shouldn’t have to spend hours deleting these applications that do me no good. Why not include an CD with software you can install as an option? Problem solved.

Those of you who are into multimedia will definitely be able to appreciate the P205 a lot more than I will. It has a fantastic display and decent integrated graphics to run Vista’s Aero features or most basic games you’d install and play for a bit. Watching movies, video, or anything with fluid motion is beautiful thanks to the display on this beast. With decent battery life to boot, it almost makes it worth the effort it takes to cart around an 8-pound laptop.

So has Toshiba improved? Are the problems of the past gone? Well, yes and no. The wireless issues have been fixed, but junk software and a slow OS make the thing feel like a laptop from 1998. At one point, the P205 became totally unusable because the hard drive and CPU were going nuts over a single running webcam application. Right now, you can get the P205 for around $1000, but I’d say save your money and buy a Macbook or Macbook Pro if you want to run Vista. You get the webcam, the graphics card, and the beautiful screen without the crap software and design flaws.

Sorry Toshiba, but maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board for a long, long time.