The Bottom Line
Oct 26 2012 - For consumers looking at a very low cost laptop for basic computing needs, the Toshiba Satellite C855 is surprisingly affordable at a good deal less than $400. It may not have as high of performance or as much storage as some of the competition, but it makes up for this by having some good battery life along with a USB 3.0 port for better high speed external storage expansion.
- Very Affordable
- USB 3.0 Port
- Keyboard With Numeric Keypad
- Smaller Hard Drive
- Keyboard Has Bit Too Much Flex
- Intel Pentium B970 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 320GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With VGA Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 2000 Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 15" x 9.5" x 1.3" @ 5.4 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Toshiba Satellite C855-S5231
Oct 26 2012 - Toshiba's Satellite C series is their most affordable laptop version but has typically lacked some features found in its slightly more expensive laptops but they seemed to have changed this stance with the C855. It still uses an older Intel Pentium B970 dual core processor that is based on the Sandy Bridge cores but still quite effective for those looking at a basic computer for web browsing, email, media viewing or productivity software. The 4GB of memory is typical for a low cost system and allows the system to run Windows smoothly.
Probably one of the weaker aspects of the Satellite C855-S5231 is the storage. While many low cost laptops have moved to a 500GB hard drive, Toshiba instead relies on a smaller 320GB hard drive that provides less overall space for applications, data and media files. Of course, street pricing for the laptop is under $400 which makes it more affordable than many of those similar systems that feature the 500GB drive. If you do need additional space, Toshiba at least includes one of the new USB 3.0 peripheral ports for use with high speed external storage. Many laptops in this price range tend to lack this option. A standard dual layer DVD burner is included for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
In terms of the display, Toshiba uses a standard 15.6-inch TN technology panel with a 1366x768 native resolution that is common for just about every laptop in this price and class range. The color and brightness aren't great but nothing terrible either. Viewing angles are a bit limited particular in the vertical angles but once again a common issue for this price segment. The graphics system is driven by the Intel HD Graphics 2000 that is built into the Pentium processor. This is the lowest of the Intel HD Graphics options and it has extremely limited 3D performance such that it is not even suitable for casual 3D gaming even with many older games. On the other hand, it does support accelerated media encoding with Quick Sync compatible applications although not quite to the level of the HD Graphics 3000 or the HD Graphics 4000.
Toshiba uses a more traditional keyboard design for the Satellite C855 rather than the isolated or chiclet keys popular with many laptops. Overall, it works pretty well but the keyboard deck did have a fair amount of flex that made it a little less comfortable or accurate as some others on the market. The keyboard does feature a numeric keypad and a full sized right hand shift key which are both becoming less common on many 15-inch laptops. The trackpad is a bit smaller than some of the other 15-inch laptops on the market and is recessed slightly in the keyboard palmrest with a textured surface.
One area where many low cost systems tend to skimp is in the battery size. Toshiba elected to use the same six-cell battery pack with a 4800mAh capacity rating. This is a typical size for many 15-inch laptops all the way up to many priced around $1000. In my digital video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for just over three and a half hours. This falls in the average range for most systems with this size battery and similar processors. It still falls short of the Dell Inspiron 15R which lasts a bit longer thanks to its Ivy Bridge based processor or the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 with a larger battery pack.
In terms of competition, there are a few at or slightly below $400. The closest competition is from ASUS, Dell and HP. The ASUS X54C is just over $400 but comes with a faster Core i3 processor and 6GB of memory but features a much smaller battery pack. Dell's Inspiron 15 also features a Core i3 processor and a larger hard drive but lacks any USB 3.0 ports. Finally, HP's 2000t uses a similar processor but features a 500GB hard drive but lacks any USB 3.0 ports.