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Toshiba Satellite A660-14C - Keyboard, Touchpad and Audio-Visual
Toshiba's laptop keyboards have been hit and miss of late, but the A660 counts as one of its better efforts. This might be due to the use of an isolation-style keyboard, the keys of which have nice light, snappy actions that aid fast and accurate typing. Some may find the lightness a little off-putting, but most will quickly come to enjoy the lack of effort required. Likewise, the layout is pretty much spot on, with handily withdrawn cursor keys and a full numeric key pad both present.
Those who abhor small, poky touchpads will enjoy the A660 as its example is particularly large. It doesn't interfere with typing at all though, and it supports a decent range of multi-touch gestures. Compared to the recently reviewed Toshiba Satellite L650-10G, the buttons feel a tad flimsy, but they do the job just fine.
Where such multimedia laptops really need to excel, however, is in the audio-visual department. One need only look to the Acer Aspire 8943G as an example, which despite its £2,000 asking price fell short of expectations. Given the Toshiba costs a fraction of the price those expectations aren't so high, but it still needs to perform.
Unsurprisingly, given the price, the A660's screen is only of the 'HD Ready' (1,366 x 768) variety, but it still manages to perform above the average for similarly priced laptops. Most notable in this regard are the viewing angles, which don't fall away as disastrously as many laptops we've seen of late. Indeed they're slightly better than those found on the Acer, though the A660 looks a little pallid in comparison. It still produced decent detail in HD films, though, making it a good choice for enjoying your Blu-ray collection somewhere other than your living room.
It's a fact further enhanced by the harman/kardon speakers, which punch way above their weight. Even without the addition of Dolby's Advanced Audio processing they sound rich and detailed, and Dolby's tech adds a nice sense of atmosphere to films. As they're only stereo speakers bass is slightly lacking, but even without any supplemental low-range driver the speakers on the A660 are more convincing than those on the 8943G. They certainly didn't distort as often or as obviously as they did. Their full-rage nature also makes them better suited to music listening, making them more than adequate for occasional duties.