Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20: Does 3D Very Well, but Not Design
By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
PCWorldOct 10, 2011 5:00 pm PDT
At a Glance
3D performance is impressive
General performance is very good
Battery life is low for the category
Laptop looks cheap; lots of annoyingly bright LEDs
If Toshiba had paid more attention to design than to 3D performance, this would be an excellent laptop.
The Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20 laptop, as its model number suggests, is touted for its 3D capabilities. It isn’t the prettiest laptop I’ve ever seen, and some aspects of its design (namely its keyboard, its touchpad, and the bright LEDs all over the place) could use some work, but it’s a solid performer and it displays 3D very well.
Our review model, priced at $1200 (as of October 10, 2011), comes with a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card, and 6GB of RAM (upgradable to 16GB). It also has a 750GB hard drive that spins at 5400 rpm, as well as a Blu-ray Disc player and a built-in webcam and microphone. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium is preinstalled.
In performance, the Satellite P755-3DV20 is average for its category. On our WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, it achieved a score of 115, just one point higher than the past five all-purpose laptops we’ve looked at. Its battery life is less than impressive, however, at just under 3 hours; the most recent all-purpose notebooks we’ve evaluated have an average battery life of about 6 hours.
As you might expect, the P755-3DV20 did much better in graphics tests, thanks to its 3D-ready Nvidia graphics card. In our Far Cry 2 graphics tests, Toshiba’s laptop managed 37 frames per second (at high quality settings and a resolution of 1024 by 768). The Dell XPS 15z, one of the more graphics-inclined all-purpose laptops we’ve tested, had an Nvidia GeForce 525M graphics card and reached a rate of 34 fps in the same test.
The Satellite P755-3DV20 has a slate-gray plastic chassis with rounded edges. It’s rather thick, at 1.6 inches, but very close to the category norm, which is about 1.4 inches and getting slimmer all the time. The shiny, rounded plastic case does make the notebook seem chunkier than it is.
The notebook’s cover features a slightly raised, striated pattern, as well as a large, mirrored Toshiba logo in the center. The striated pattern carries over to the keyboard deck and touchpad, though the latter isn’t textured.
In other respects, however, the inside of the P755-3DV20 looks different–and I’m not sure I like it.
Aside from the texturing, which is an interesting twist (especially between the Chiclet-style keys on the keyboard), a number of bright white LEDs adorn the P755-3DV20. These LEDs light up a series of touch-sensitive buttons across the top of the keyboard (for Eco mode, Wi-Fi, 3D, Play/Pause, Mute, Volume Up, and Volume Down). In addition, a bright LED-lit Satellite logo sits in the bottom-left corner, and a bright LED strip decorates the top of the touchpad. As far as I can tell, the only way to turn off these LEDs is to go into Eco mode, which dims all but the green Eco light and the white power-button light. You can also turn off the touchpad strip–by turning off the touchpad altogether.
Ports-wise, the Satellite P755-3DV20 is average for the category. It has four USB ports, including one USB 3.0 port (which also has Sleep and Charge), plus a gigabit ethernet port and microphone and headphone jacks. For multimedia junkies, it provides two ports for connecting external displays–VGA and HDMI–as well as a memory card reader located in the front. The laptop also sports a Blu-ray disc player, which is always a welcome addition.
Unfortunately, the P755-3DV20’s keyboard is subpar. Offering matte-black, Chiclet-style keys, it is stiff and difficult to type on. The keys have little give, and they’re smaller than usual. Toshiba does cram a ten-key number pad next to the keyboard–a nice touch, especially for gamers–but a better keyboard would have been preferable.
The touchpad is better, but still could use some work. It’s large, with a slightly rough texture, and it has two discrete, mirrored mouse buttons. Basic cursor movement and scrolling are smooth, but multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom are a little shaky. On top of that, the mouse buttons are slippery and angled (the laptop tapers downward at the edges), so it’s difficult to hold a button down and drag–when I tried to do it, my thumb hit the touchpad, causing the pointer to jump. A small physical button above the touchpad lets you turn it on or off, in case you want to use an external mouse (you probably will).
The Satellite P755-3DV20 has a bright, glossy, 15.6-inch LED-backlit screen with a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. That’s a bit low for this screen size. Colors–especially skin tones–look good, but can sometimes end up washed out if you have the screen set to the highest brightness. The glossy surface also throws back a lot of reflections. Viewing angles are good, and sometimes even better than head-on viewing if the brightness is dialed up.
Basic multimedia playback on the Satellite P755-3DV20 is excellent. HD streaming looks especially attractive, with no artifacting or noise that I can see. Audio is also good, and much louder than on most laptops. The speakers are easily robust enough to fill a large room. As the loudness grows, however, sound quality decreases; at full volume, the audio is a little thin.
Our review model came with a pair of Nvidia 3D Vision active shutter glasses for playing 3D video and games. Setting up 3D on the Satellite P755-3DV20 is quick: Just open up Nvidia’s 3D menu, and after a few quick steps you’re ready to start watching 3D movies and playing 3D games. The 3D effect actually looks quite good; the particularly bright screen is definitely a plus when you put on the active shutter glasses, which tend to make everything look a lot dimmer. And the 3D viewing angles are better than I usually see–you can move a whole foot or so to one side of the laptop, and the picture still pops out. Both 3D Blu-ray discs and 3D video games run smoothly, too, so your reaction to the effect really just depends on whether you can stand the stressful flickering of the shutter glasses.
The Toshiba Satellite P755-3DV20 is an impressive all-purpose laptop, if you can get past the less-than-impressive design. The plastic exterior is nice for a cheaper, less specced-out machine, but it doesn’t really convey “3D multimedia powerhouse.” Still, if you’re looking for a nice multimedia and casual-gaming laptop, the P755-3DV20 performs solidly.