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Toshiba Satellite X205-S9359

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This big multimedia notebook is for on-the-go gamers and TV fans. The Toshiba Satellite X205-S9359 handles 3D shooters with aplomb, plus it comes bundled with an add-on TV tuner and remote control for watching shows. For work, productivity applications are also included in the laptop's $2400 (as of 10/9/07) price. Regardless of your pursuit, the big screen and twin hard drives make for very comfortable desktop computing. Just don't count on long battery life.

The X205-S9359 is a preconfigured retail model distinguished by a swirly red and black "carmine flare" lid that for a gaming notebook is downright tasteful. A very similar-looking model, the X205-S9349, is $500 less but has only half the video memory and storage. That configuration might be fine for multimedia dabblers, but for full-throttle entertainment, opt for the X205-S9359.

In our tests, Word and Photoshop ran quickly and 3D games looked good. Equipped with a 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 512MB nVidia GeForce Go 8700M GT dedicated graphics card, the laptop logged a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 76, putting it in the middle of a tightly grouped pack of similarly equipped, high-performing desktop replacements. For instance, a Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 and an Acer Aspire 5920G scored a point better at 77, but the X205-S9359 bested a Toshiba Qosmio G45 AV-680 that earned a mark of 74. Among all currently tested desktop replacements, the X205-S9359 scored one point better than the average of 75. It also aced our gaming tests with a frame rate of 84 in Doom 3 and a scorching 122 frames per second in Far Cry. Battery life was only average for a desktop replacement, though, at 2.5 hours.

The design is good overall. The X205-S9359 is typically heavy at 8.7 pounds (the average among currently tested desktop replacements is 8.8 pounds), but it has two 160GB hard drives and four built-in Harman/Kardon speakers backed by a bottom subwoofer for rich, satisfying sound. The Toshiba USB HDTV Tuner and brick-like power adapter bring the weight to a chunky 11 pounds. Dropped hinges on the 17-inch screen, however, give the total package a remarkably low profile. The screen itself, a 17-inch 1680-by-1050-pixel display with Toshiba's patented TruBrite glossy finish, is reflective; I had to experiment with tilting the notebook and lowering the office shades that were behind the notebook. Otherwise, it's easy to read.

The laptop is plentifully supplied with the kinds of ports, connections, and other features that you might expect of a better-than-average entertainment portable. Chief among them are an HD DVD player, a built-in Webcam, and an HDMI port for connecting a plasma screen. The generous nonmultimedia features include a gaggle of USB ports--six in all--and a keyboard with several nice extras. One is a dedicated number pad; another is Toshiba's unique dual-mode touchpad, which you can switch to a set of virtual quick-launch buttons with the tap of a finger in the upper-right corner. Microsoft Works 8.5 rounds out the offering.

If you're looking for a mainstream or inexpensive notebook, the X205-S9359 will be too much bang for too many bucks. But if a strong gaming notebook that can also feed your TV addiction and comes with Microsoft Word and Excel sounds like the ideal portable to you, look no further.

--Carla Thornton

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