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Toshiba Satellite A350-11N - Toshiba Satellite A350-11N

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Typing on the Satellite A350 is a pleasure. While fingerprints do show up on the glossy keyboard keys from certain angles, it's much less visible than with the rest of the notebook. Its layout is good, avoiding many of the typical pitfalls and sporting some intelligent decisions, such as the slightly withdrawn cursor keys and the Page Up and Page Down running vertically down the right-hand side. Keys are slightly slippery thanks to the shiny finish, but after extended use it's not a bother and in any case is more than made up for by the excellent, crisp key response..

Below all this, the touchpad is a good one with a wide aspect to match the screen and an ideal matte textured surface. It's a pity that after all this praise, the touchpad's buttons have to go and spoil things somewhat. While they're large and well-positioned, they're still too stiff. Their chromed surface together with their rounded shape also makes them unpleasantly slippery, as well as showing off the slightest fingerprint.

Of course the internals of Toshiba's latest budget notebook have also seen a bit of an overhaul, most significantly from the A300-177's Centrino 1.83GHz T5550 to Intel's Centrino 2 chipset and a T5800 Intel Core 2 Duo running at 2.0GHz. Memory has also doubled to 4GB of 800MHz DDR2, though a 32-bit version of Vista Home Premium won't take full advantage. However, it's the perfect excuse to upgrade to the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 when it comes out. For storage you now get a 250GB hard drive (split into two roughly equal 115GB partitions), which is a modest increase but adequate for everyday use. Though there is no built-in Bluetooth, wireless is well up to scratch with Draft-N included for improved Wi-Fi range and faster data transfer.

Intel's new Centrino 2 chipset also brings with it a new graphics chip, the GMA 4500M HD, which is fine for everyday use but will struggle with most games and only managed 15.5fps at Medium Quality in TrackMania Nations Forever at the screen's native 1,366 x 768 resolution.

Speaking of the screen, this is probably the biggest change as Toshiba has switched from 16:10 to 16:9; a more film-friendly aspect ratio. Unfortunately, aside from putting the weight up from the A300's 2.7 to 2.94kg, the reflective display is not the best example we've come across. Text is sharp, there's barely a hint of banding or backlight bleed and it even did fairly well in our greyscale testing, but this mostly good performance is ruined by poor viewing angles, where watching at a slight angle introduces severe contrast shift.

One thing you can usually be confident about when you get a Satellite is its audio performance and this remains the case. For their size the integrated Harman/kardon speakers are brilliant, reaching high volumes, producing depth and bass that belies their stature and enviable clarity, too. Only when you really ratchet up the volume does a hint of distortion creep in, but aside from this you're unlikely to find a better set of speakers in a notebook costing this little.

The Stick

February 17, 2009, 7:08 pm

"T8500 Intel Core 2 Duo running at 2.0GHz"


should that be T5800? Haven't heard of a T8500.


Good review :)

Andy Vandervell

February 17, 2009, 7:18 pm

Good spot. Thanks. :)

TechVegan

February 17, 2009, 9:41 pm

Glad you liked the review. Sorry about the error, and for any false hopes I might have raised of the A350-11N being equipped with a new Intel super-chip from the future :)

smc8788

February 17, 2009, 10:25 pm

Is there any particular reason why more and more notebook manufacturers are now using a 16:9 aspect ratio rather than 16:10, or is just a cost cutting measure? I know it is slightly better suited for multimedia content, but I would rather have more vertical pixels for when I use it for working, or web browsing so you can see more of the page. You still get big black bars at the top and bottom when watching films on a 16:9 screen, and I don't find them that more noticeable on a 16:10 screen, but maybe I've just grown used to them. I don't see why they've decided computer screens/monitors should have to have the same aspect ratio as TVs - they are mostly used for different purposes, after all.

Himesh

February 17, 2009, 11:08 pm

Excellent review Ardjuna. Would the slightly higher specced A350-20Q be worth it? Im thinking of getting this model from comet, and am wondering, in your opinion, would it get a higher score? Or would it be much the same?





Thanks

TechVegan

February 18, 2009, 8:32 pm

@smc8788: A variety of reasons. Cost-cutting is one of them. The second you already mention, and don't forget that this is also tied in to marketing and consumer perception for the largest number (not necessarily those who know the most).





Personally, though I agree with you totally, I do think the move to 16:9 for computers is a positive thing overall, as it will reduce costumer confusion (there are enough aspect ratios to remember) AND it means I'll need to remember fewer resolutions ;)





@Himesh: Cheers. In answer to your question, that really depends on what you want it for. It's not a BAD deal per se, but to be honest, unless audio quality is a priority for you (given Toshiba's track record with excellent notebook speakers), for 𧾜 you can get notebooks that offer far more (especially if you go for 'older' models from the likes of HP and Acer). With a bit of searching, you can even find models with 17in or 18.4in Full HD screens AND Blu-ray for around that price. Again, it all depends on your priorities.

TechVegan

February 18, 2009, 8:41 pm

@Himesh:Add Sony to the above list of HP and Acer. Hope this helps.

Himesh

February 19, 2009, 12:31 am

Thanks Ardjuna. Audi quality is NOT a priority in the slightest. I'll be hooking it up to some AE Aego 2.1 speakers anyway. Id mainly want it for occasional gaming,watching movies and general bits and bobs. Thing is im restriced to buying from Comet as i have 𧵎 worth of vouchers burning a whole in my pocket. Is there any you'd recommend?





Thanks again

TechVegan

February 20, 2009, 7:31 pm

@Himesh: If you're stuck with Comet and audio's not a priority, for only 㾶 more the 16in Acer {http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcom...} seems to offer a LOT more, including a better graphics card and Blu-ray drive.





Apart from possibly 'poor' battery life and integrated graphics, another Acer {http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcom...} also seems to offer a lot for less money (nearly 𧷤 less!), with a sweet 500GB hard drive.





But overall the A350-20Q isn't a bad option, so it really comes down to personal preference. Good luck with your choice!

Himesh

February 21, 2009, 3:36 am

Thanks very much for your help. I was considering the ACER AS6935G before you said as it got a very good review on this very site. I was all for going to COmet this coming monday to buy, when i spotted this sony: {http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcom...}. Looks like its a straight shootout between the acer and sony. Both the same price, which would you go for?





Again i cant thank you enough for your help.

TechVegan

February 23, 2009, 4:13 pm

Really it's up to you to decide mate, but the Acer offers a Blu-ray drive where the Sony does not, and to top that off is currently cheaper.

Mombi

February 26, 2009, 12:25 am

Hi Ardjuna, nice review. Was thinking as well of getting the Satellite A350-20Q. But I am getting it for 𧻲 rather than the usual price of 𧾥. This is only because its a Toshiba laptop, and my brother works for them. My question is that, is there any laptop I could get out there that would be better than this Toshiba at 𧻲?





I am mainly interested in a laptop that can do basic gaming, watch some movie, use the net, and do bits & bobs. And I also want something that can last long, and will effectively replace my desktop.





Your help appreciated.

TechVegan

March 3, 2009, 5:06 pm

@Mombi: Cheers. No, I'd say that Satellite A350-20Q is pretty much as good a deal as you're going to get. The only thing it's lacking is a Blu-ray drive, and it doesn't sound like you want one anyway.

lloyd344

March 7, 2009, 6:53 pm

Hi i know this is a bit rude but the Toshiba Satellite A350-20Q is the exact laptop i am looking for, any chance tell me where u got it for 𧻲? Would be much appreciated:) x

Robert1248

July 28, 2014, 2:11 pm

Have had mine 5 years now and replaced the battery today since it was worn out. This laptop still performs good, and the sound still beats most of the laptops I have seen.
Installed Windows 8.1, and that combined with a SSD avoids the need for buying a newer laptop.

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