Information on the Toshiba Satellite P105-S6217 St. John's NL

Toshiba's powerful laptop carries a reasonable price tag.

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Information on the Toshiba Satellite P105-S6217

Toshiba laptops are wildly popular and for a reason: They offer good quality and they're eminently affordable. The $1649 (as of April 11, 2007) Toshiba Satellite P105-S6217 isn't a high concept notebook, but it makes an excellent second PC at home or a solid small-office desktop replacement.

At 7.4 pounds, the P105-S6217 is very light for a laptop with a 17-inch screen. Its LCD display is big and easy to read. The full-size keyboard includes a dedicated keypad and a dual-mode touchpad of the type seen on past Satellites.

Though the icon-heavy touchpad looks gimmicky, it turns out to be one of the notebook's best features. One tap in the upper right corner switches the touchpad from cursor mode to button mode and activates pressure-sensitive symbols that you can use to launch six different Web sites or applications.

The P105-S6217 comes with four USB ports, a next-generation ExpressCard slot, a shared five-in-one memory slot, an S/PDIF port for digital speakers, and a DVI port for LCD monitors. A large fingerprint reader situated in the wrist rest lets you breeze through log-ins.

Storage is extremely generous: The spacious 200GB hard drive invites you to record gigabyte-gobbling TV programs. The drive's slow, 4200-rpm spin rate--along with the laptop's 1.66-GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 processor--kept the Satellite's WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score to a modest 68, three points below the average of 71 for our desktop replacements group. Its battery life of slightly less than 2 hours, however, is disappointing.

The only thing this likable laptop truly tanks at, however, is 3D gaming. The Satellite's nVidia GeForce Go 7300 graphics controller features just 128MB of RAM, and the lack of memory showed up painfully in our tests. Far Cry and Doom 3 with antialiasing enabled crawled along at between 7 and 13 frames per second. Without antialiasing, only Far Cry was playable--and barely so, at 37 fps.

It's not the fanciest multimedia laptop on the shelf, but this Windows Vista Home Premium-equipped portable does all right. It bundles an external HDTV tuner, including a desktop antenna for picking up signals when a cable connection isn't possible. The excellent Harman/Kardon stereo speakers deliver terrific output. Four square buttons above the keyboard play, stop, and move backward and forward through CDs and DVDs; and if you leave a disc in the DVD burner, pressing the Media Button will play it. Toshiba completes a very nice effort by bundling Microsoft Works 8.5.

Carla Thornton