Toshiba has always had a happy knack for creating good multimedia laptops, its Qosmio range in particular generating plenty of praise over the years. Qosmios, however, have always been expensive, so Toshiba has applied a little of the Qosmio special sauce to the Satellite A660 and given it a tantalising £699 price tag.
This is an impressive price considering this 16-inch machine sports a 500GB hard drive and a Blu-ray drive. These two add plenty of value to this already competitively priced machine, and the rest of spec doesn't disappoint either. There's an Intel Core i3 running at 2.13GHz at its heart, and it is supported by 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a competent Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics card with 512MB of its own memory. Wireless N Wi-Fi is offered as well, though the lack of Bluetooth and the use of slower 10/100 Mb Fast Ethernet are the first dents in its credentials.
Still, continuing the pluses, Toshiba appears to have finally fallen out of love with glossy black plastic. It hasn't wandered far from its preferred materials mind, opting for a textured black finish instead with mere hints of glossiness around the edges. All-in-all it's a definite improvement, though a little more contrast would be nice as the A660 looks a little gothic in spite of the touches of chrome and white lighting here and there.
Another promising aspect as regards multimedia is the varied connectivity on the A660. HDMI and VGA are to be expected (nay demanded), but an eSATA and USB combo port is to be applauded even if they're increasingly common these days - especially as this one supports USB standby charging. Another useful feature is the 34mm ExpressCard slot, which should allow the addition of a USB 3.0 expansion card or TV tuner should you want one.
Beyond this there are a couple more standard USB ports, two audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x microphone), and a memory card reader on the front edge that supports SD cards up to 64GB in capacity. This should avoid any potential compatibility worries, particularly for anyone using any of the large number of HD camcorders now relying exclusively on SD card storage.
Other signs of the A660's multimedia heritage are the backlight controls above the keyboard, though disappointingly the only 'media' based ones concern play/pause and volume controls. Others activate Toshiba's 'Eco Mode', toggle wireless adapters, and launch Toshiba's largely pointless Bulletin Board software. Not the best use of such space we could think of, but nothing worth getting in a knot over.