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Toshiba Satellite P25-S670

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Toshiba Satellite P25-S670 Notebook

Toshiba Satellite P25-S670
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

For a good time, check out the Toshiba Satellite P25-S670, a desktop replacement notebook that's also an entertainment center. For work, the Satellite offers a big keyboard, a large screen, and two front modular bays for expansion. For fun, this stunning beauty of a 10-pound notebook with a sturdy blue lid features the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, a TV-tuner module, and a handheld remote control. Take the Satellite on business or vacation trips as both a work notebook and a small TV. At home, it fits into your entertainment center as a PC-based DVD player and digital video recorder.

This $2699 Satellite has a good keyboard, including mouse buttons made of an inviting soft plastic and an extrawide touchpad. Typing is a pleasure except for the Tab key, which is disappointingly small for a notebook this large. You get all the expected notebook connections and then some, including four USB 2.0 ports, dual Wi-Fi, and both S-Video and composite types of TV-out ports for connecting any TV as a monitor. The right modular bay holds a dual-format DVD drive for making backups or burning home movies. The left bay holds either the notebook's battery or the bundled TV tuner. Is the 80GB primary hard drive not big enough? Either bay can swap in a second hard drive of up to 80GB for a total of 160GB. Overall, the Satellite's upgradeable parts are easy to reach, with just one unusual glitch: You may need to remove the hard drive before attempting a RAM upgrade, because the drive partially blocks the second memory slot. We could just squeeze our fingers past it.

The Satellite comes with everything you need to connect directly to a TV, including a short coaxial cable. For integrating the notebook into an existing cable and VCR setup, you'll need to buy a splitter. You can watch live TV on the 17-inch screen, pausing TiVo-like, or schedule programs to record and watch later. The blue-hued Media Center interface, resplendent on the 17-inch 1440-by-900-pixel screen, makes downloading and moving through TV listings a breeze. The screen, driven by the most powerful video components available for a notebook, including an NVidia GeForce FX Go5700 video chip with 128MB of RAM, produced a slightly grainy full-screen TV picture. But it was fine for casual viewing, and sharp in a small window. When you aren't watching your favorite TV programs, the interface is a comfortable place to view your high-resolution digital photographs, play music, or download movies from the Internet.

The Satellite boasts Harman/Kardon stereo speakers in the palm rests and a useful set of audio buttons on the front, with a separate volume wheel on the left. The speakers emit clear, rich sound compared with most other notebooks' audio, but they could be louder. There was just enough volume to watch a DVD movie in a quiet room. A subwoofer also would have been a welcome addition on an entertainment unit like this Satellite.

The Satellite is a big notebook, measuring 1.8 inches tall and weighing almost 10 pounds, not counting the power adapter--and, like most large notebooks, it suffers from terrible battery life. In our tests it lasted just 1.2 hours on one charge. The TV tuner takes up the battery bay; we endured several instances of accidentally shutting down the notebook before we finally remembered to swap out the tuner before unplugging from the wall.

In our speed tests, the 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 desktop chip-equipped Satellite earned a WorldBench 5 score of 78, 1 percent above the average for similar CPUs and 4 percent higher than the average figure for notebooks with the 1.6-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M processor. Toshiba has you covered in the documentation department with fine manuals provided in print and on the hard drive.

The Satellite and Microsoft's Media Center team up to make a near-perfect desktop replacement and entertainment portable. We would boost the stereo speakers, but the $2699 price is more than fair, considering everything you get.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Toshiba Satellite P25-S670 Notebook

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