capsule review

Toshiba Satellite P15-S420

At a Glance
  • Toshiba Satellite P15-S420 Notebook

Toshiba Satellite P15-S420
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

We wouldn't want to be caught on a coast-to-coast flight with the Toshiba Satellite P15-S420 and a big presentation to finish before landing. This large, 3-GHz Pentium 4-equipped notebook had a battery life of just an hour and a half on one charge--not a ringing endorsement of its survival skills away from an outlet.

The P15-S420's desktop processor helped it post an average PC WorldBench 4 score of 118, which is 5 percent slower than the average score of 125 for notebooks we've tested with the mobile Pentium M chip.

A handsome 2-inch-tall notebook, the P15-S420 features a blue lid and a large, sensibly laid-out keyboard. The wide screen accommodates a lot of information at once, and low rubber feet raise it above the desk's surface so it can run cooler. Three application shortcut buttons, including a TV-out toggle, flank the right side of the keyboard; status lights occupy the left. All of the buttons, including those on the mouse, are composed of a soft plastic that feels like rubber, for extra typing comfort. The P15-S420's front-mounted, multiformat DVD+-RW burner supports state-of-the-art disc creation.

The notebook has numerous connections, including three USB 2.0 ports, an SD slot, a handy Wi-Fi switch on the left side, and audio controls on the front. You have to read up a bit in the manual to figure out how to switch between disc mode (to play CDs) and digital mode (for launching Windows Media Player), but overall we liked the music controls--especially the volume wheel. It's too bad that the speakers are in the palm rest, because closing the lid further dampens the already modest stereo sound.

As a desktop replacement, the P15-S420 suffers from a shortage of storage options. The hard drive is not upgradable by the user, and there are no modular bays for adding internal storage. Though our test unit's 80GB hard drive should keep most folks happy for a long time, people who consume gigabytes quickly or who want flexibility should look elsewhere.

Like most PCs these days, the P15-S420 comes with scant printed documentation--just a couple of startup guides. But they will suffice to get you going, and the PDF-format manual on the hard drive is complete.

The Toshiba Satellite P15-S420 is a strong candidate for a desktop replacement system if you don't require good stereo sound or scads of storage.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Toshiba Satellite P15-S420 Notebook

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