What's hot: Solid build, lots of ports, and good audio.
What's not: Thick notebook, battery life isn’t stellar.
Reviewed April 14, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The Satellite models are the popular line in Toshiba’s large selection of laptops, and students and road warriors alike favor the 14” and 15” Satellite notebooks for their reasonable prices and well-rounded features. Toshiba has updated the Satellite series with the new Intel Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs and new chipsets. The Toshiba Satellite M500 line also adds a touch screen edition that works well with Windows 7’s touch support.
We take a look at the Toshiba Satellite M505-S4020 Touch edition in this review. The Satellite M505 runs on the Intel Core i3-330M processor at 2.13GHz with 3MB L3 cache. The notebook has 4GB (3.8GB available to user) 1066MHz DDR3 memory, integrated Intel GMA HD graphics, and a 500GB SATA hard drive. The notebook has a SuperMulti DVD burner with Labelflash, built-in Wi-Fi, an HDMI port and a media card reader. The Satellite M505 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS and Toshiba’s own software.
Design and Ergonomics
Though neither thin nor light, the Toshiba Satellite M505 has a pleasing design. The notebook has Toshiba’s newly styled Fusion finish in Sonic Black pattern and features chrome edging and accents on black background. The 14” LED backlit display has 1366 x 768 native resolution and supports 720p content natively. The screen is acceptably bright with saturated and balanced colors that make movies and pictures look good on the screen. It does have some glare though. The touch screen supports two-point finger touch, and thanks to the hefty body and the strong hinge, the display doesn’t wobble much when you use the touch screen.
The Toshiba Satellite M505 has a standard US keyboard and a multi-touch TouchPad with two mouse buttons. The keyboard keys are large, but they are flat and a bit slippery. We prefer keyboards that have non-slippery keys. A row of touch sensitive media controls lives above the keyboard (very handy for DVD and music playback) and two Harman/kardon stereo speakers flank the media controls. The stereo speakers are loud with strong bass thanks to the subwoofer and Dolby Sound Room technology. There are two screwed on doors under the notebook; one provides access to the two DIMM slots and one to wireless modules; all very accessible.
Horsepower and Performance
Toshiba still offers the Satellite M500/505 series with both AMD and Intel CPU options. The Intel version starts with the Core i3-330M CPU at 2.13GHz, but it can go up to Core i5-430M at 2.26GHz for $120 extra and Core i5-520M at 2.4GHz for $200 extra. The Toshiba Satellite M505 has 2 memory slots and can take up to 8GB DDR3 1066MHz SDRAM. The notebook has integrated Intel GMA HD graphics and it performs respectably when playing videos and games (not super graphics-intensive games). If you are a more serious gamer or video jockey, Toshiba offers a discrete graphics option with the NVIDIA GeForce 310M with 512MB GDDR3 memory for $95.
The notebook comes with a 250GB HDD SATA drive (5400rpm) standard, and you can upgrade that to 320GB, 400GB and 500GB HDD SATA (5400rpm) for extra money. The Toshiba Satellite M505 comes with a DVD SuperMulti double layer (+/-R) with Labelflash optical drive, and also an option to get a slot-loading version with Labelflash for $40 extra. Ethernet, Wi-Fi and a webcam are standard but Bluetooth and a modem are extra. The touch screen option will add another $200.
We put the Toshiba M505 with the Core i3-330M CPU at 2.13GHz through PCMark Vantage X64 benchmark tests and provide score comparisons with the Lenovo ThinkPad T410 which runs on the Intel Core i5-M520 at 2.53GHz with 4GB memory and the same Intel GMA HD graphics and the HP TM2 with a 1.3GHz Intel SU7300 CPU and integrated graphics.
PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results:
Toshiba Satellite M505:
PCMark Suite: 4651
Memory Suite: 2724
TV and Movie Suite: 3376
Gaming Suite: 2838
Communication Suite: 4887
Productivity Suite: 4185
HDD Test Suite: 2959
The Intel Core i5 powered ThinkPad scored higher than the Core i3 powered Satellite not only in processor speed but the faster CPU also helped graphics performance. The HP TM2 is a tablet with touch screen and pen input that sells for around $1,000. It uses the Intel CULV SU series of very low power dual core CPUs that aren't as fast as the i3. Our gaming tests showed that the ThinkPad could handle games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 with decent speed while the game played at about 10 fps to 15 fps on the Toshiba Satellite M505 at 1024 x 768 resolution. Productivity software ran smoothly on the Satellite M505 and IE loaded web pages with good speeds in our tests. DVD and music playback was also very smooth. The Toshiba Satellite M505 dealt with Hulu playback better than the ThinkPad T410, streaming movies over Wi-Fi at 30 fps with occasional frame-drops to 25 fps. Streaming Netflix over Wi-Fi however only achieved 25 fps on average and the movies did look a bit jerky on the M505.
Ports and Slots
The Toshiba Satellite M505 has plenty of ports including 3 USB ports, an eSATA/USB combo port, an RJ-45 Ethernet jack and a modem port. For AV functions, the Toshiba has a VGA port, an HDMI out port, a mic in jack and a headphone jack. For expansion, the Satellite M505 has an ExpressCard slot (compatible with ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54) and a memory card reader that supports Secure Digital, Secure Digital High Capacity, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Multi Media Card and xD Picture Cards.
The Toshiba Satellite M505 comes with a 6-cell 4800 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. The MobileMark Productivity 2007 battery life rating shows the notebook has a 3:30 hours run time. In our real life tests, the notebook lasted for a little over 3 hours running productivity tools like MS Office, email and IE with Wi-Fi turned on and the notebook set to the Balanced power setting. The Satellite M505 could play DVDs on the balanced power setting with screen brightness turned to max for just a little over 2 hours. Run times were about the same when playing Netflix movies over Wi-Fi. Hulu playback lasted longer, reaching nearly 3 hours over Wi-Fi on the Balanced power setting and the screen turned to max brightness. The Toshiba Satellite M505 comes with an auto-sensing AC adapter that’s 100-240V/50-60Hz.
The Toshiba Satellite M505 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. And since the Satellite M505-S4020 is a touch edition, the software bundle also includes Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 which works smoothly on the Satellite. Microsoft Silverlight is pre-installed which should please Netflix users, and MS Works 9 is also included. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 Edition 60-day trial is onboard as well as 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2010.
Toshiba software includes Recovery Media Creator, DVD Player and Disc Creator, facial recognition, power management and Toshiba’s new docking UI called ReelTime.
The new Intel Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs and Windows 7 certainly breathes new life into the long-running Satellite line. Although the M500 weighs over 5 pounds and is quite thick, the new Fusion cover and chrome-on-black design give the notebook a new look. The performance is competitive compared to other 14” notebooks with similar specs and the price is attractive starting at $799. The notebook offers full essentials for road warriors including plenty of ports, an optical drive and an HDMI port, and has great audio with Dolby Sound Room technology and Harman/kardon stereo speakers. It’s nice to be able to get a touch screen configuration for those who need one, though it increases the notebook’s price quite a bit. The battery life isn’t stellar and to keep the price down, there’s no SSD option.
Pro: Solid build, lots of ports, and good audio.
Con: Keyboard is a bit slippery, notebook is quite thick and the battery life isn’t stellar.
Price: $999.99 (M505-S4020), $799.99 without the touch screen.
Display: 14.0” widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display, 1366 x 768 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, native support for 720p content. VGA port. Intel HD Graphics with 32 megs-1.69 gigs of dynamically allocated shared graphics memory.
Battery: 6-cell 4800 mAh Lithium Ion battery. Power supply: 65W (19V x 3.42A) Auto-sensing, 100-240V, 50-60Hz AC adapter. Power supply dimensions: 4.25 x 1.8 x 1.2 inches. Power supply weight: 0.49 pounds.
Performance: Intel Core i3-330M at 2.13 GHz, 3MB L3 cache. 4GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, 8 gigs max. Two main memory slots, both may be occupied. 500GB hard drive (5400rpm). No SSD option.
Size: 13.5 x 9.14 x 1.42/1.55 inches. Weight: starts at 5.18 pounds.
Software: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition OS. Microsoft Works 9 included, also Windows Media Player, IE8 and Microsoft Silverlight preinstalled. Toshiba software includes Recovery Media, Toshiba DVD Player, ReelTime, Power-saving eco utility, facial recognition and PC Health Monitor. MS Office 2007 60-day trial software and Norton Internet Security 2010 30-day trial included. Third party software includes Corel DVD MovieFactory for Toshiba and Adobe Reader.