The Bottom Line
May 19 2014 - Toshiba's latest low cost Satellite laptop features a number of trade offs. It offers a quite experience with longer battery life but trades off a good deal of performance by using the new AMD A4 quad core processor. The design is also unchanged from previous models which means it is larger and heavier than most other systems at this price point. At least the design does provide it with a bit more running time and more storage space thanks to a larger hard drive.
- Larger Hard Drive
- Above Average Battery Life
- Runs Very Quiet and Cool
- Larger And Heavier Than Most 15-inch Budget Systems
- Performance Below Intel Dual Core Processors
- Keyboard Has A Lot of Flex
- AMD A4-5000 Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 720p Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 8330 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 15" x 9.5" x 1.31" @ 5.3 lbs.
- Windows 8.1
Review - Toshiba Satellite C55Dt-A5148
May 19 2014 - Rather than making a completely new laptop design, Toshiba elected to use the same chassis for the C55Dt-A5148 as past Satellite C55 models. This puts the system at a bit of a disadvantage as it is quite thick at 1.3-inches with a weight of over five pounds. Since this is using a new lower power AMD platform, it would have been nice if the size could have been reduced. The laptop features a black satin finish which does a good job in terms of the texture of the shell and for preventing fingerprints and smudging.
Toshiba has equipped the Satellite C55Dt-A5148 with the new AMD A4-5000 quad core mobile processor. This is the latest low wattage processor design from the company that is designed to compete with Intel's ultra low wattage processors typically used in ultrabooks. While it does have four cores, the overall performance from the processor is actually slightly less than an Intel Pentium 2117U dual core processor. This means it is perfectly fine for those using a laptop mostly for browsing the web, streaming video or doing productivity programs. At least it does not generate much heat and noise when under heavy loads. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory which provides a smooth enough experience with Windows 8 but it will get slowed down if multitasking frequently. The memory can be upgraded which is useful as it has two memory slots and only one filled so it only requires a single 4GB memory module to get to 8GB.
One of the best features of the Satellite C55Dt-A5148 though is the storage. Most laptops in this price range have standardized on a 500GB hard drive. Toshiba has provided it with fifty percent more storage space by using a 750GB hard drive. In addition to the extra space, it also provides a slight boost compared to the smaller drive systems but still nothing compared to those that use solid state memory. If this isn't enough space, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage. The only downside is that it is located on the right hand side and can get in the way when using an external mouse. There is a dual layer DVD burner for those that still need to playback or record CD or DVD media.
Unlike the Satellite C55 models from the past that I looked at, the Satellite C55Dt comes equipped with a touchscreen enabled 15.6-inch display panel that makes it more useful with the Windows 8 operating system. The panel itself is pretty much the same as past versions with a 1366x768 native resolution that while suitable is lower than most tablets these days. The color and brightness are both good but the viewing angles particularly on the vertical are fairly narrow. The graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon HD 8330 that are build into the A4 processor. In terms of performance, it actually is not the impressive. It may have a bit more 3D performance than an Intel HD 2500 but it still isn't really suited for 3D applications like gaming unless you are looking at very low resolutions and detail levels and even that is not going to look very impressive. At least it does provide some decent acceleration for non-3D applications which is a bit better than Intel's offerings.
They keyboard design is the same as past Toshiba models and uses a more traditional laptop keyboard design rather than the isolated and chiclet styles that have become so popular. It is a full size keyboard that includes a numeric keypad and offers large keys for control, shift, tag, backspace and enter. It is a decent keyboard but there is a bit too much flex that does hamper the comfort and accuracy compared to many newer laptop designs. The trackpad is somewhat small for a 15-inch laptop and features some large rounded upper corners that can make it tricky for diagonal movements. It does work already with multitouch gestures but that isn't soo much of an issue with the touchscreen display. It does feature dedicated left and right buttons.
Since this is a full size laptop, Toshiba does provide it with a traditional 48WHr capacity battery pack that is full removable. Toshiba states that the laptop will run for over five hours but that is with a fairly light mobile productivity load. In my digital video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for four and quarter hours which is better than it equipped with a traditional Intel mobile processor. This is a bit longer than many of the other 15-inch laptops in its price range though not by a large margin.
Pricing for the Toshiba Satellite C55Dt-A5158 is roughly $500. The primary two competitors for this laptop come from ASUS and Dell. The ASUS X552EA-DH41 is a more affordable laptop at just $400 but this is because it does not come with a touchscreen display and features just a 500GB hard drive. Other than this, the features between the Toshiba and the ASUS are close because it uses the same A4-5000 processor. The Dell Inspiron 15 (3537) Touch on the other hand uses an Intel Core i3-4010U dual core processor that provides it with better performance but roughly the same battery life on a smaller battery. In fact, the Dell model is actually thinner and lighter but still features a 15-inch touchscreen display and a DVD burner. Of course, it features just a 500GB hard drive which means it can store less data but makes up for it with two USB 3.0 ports.