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It’s a testament to the improvements in mobile computing technology that the very concept of the Desktop Replacement (DTR) even exists. Although desktops will always provide better performance related to price, the fact remains that for a good while now it has been possible to get hold of larger notebooks, which fulfil the needs of most users at a price that isn’t prohibitive.
This Toshiba Satellite P200-143 is a good example. Retailing for one pound sterling short of a £1,000 you get a large 17in display, a capacious 200GB hard drive and a roomy keyboard that includes a ten digit number pad. This ticks most of the boxes of the DTR feature set, and ought' to set it on course for bountiful praise. Unfortunately, this particular model is a halfway house between nowhere.
The problems begin with the processor, not only is it an older spec Core 2 Duo T5500 with only a 667MHz front side bus, but it's clocked at a distinctly sluggish 1.66MHz. When you consider the likes of the Acer Aspire 5920 is shipping with a 2GHz CPU, and the Evesham Zieo N550-HD with a 2.2GHz CPU, you begin to get an idea of the gulf that exists.
This is extended to other components as well. The graphics solution, a 128MB nVidia GeForce Go 7600, is distinctly old hat, lacking any of the dedicated video processing found on its DX10 equivalent the 8600M-GT. This combined with the slow CPU means the Toshiba struggles with HD video content, with dropped frames and tearing occurring during action scenes. With this kind of content becoming increasingly common, it would be unwise to invest in a notebook – especially a DTR – which can't handle this content to a satisfactory level.
Happily, other parts of the specification aren't as disappointing. The 200GB SATA HDD is very welcome, as is 2GB of 667MHz DDR2, which should help keep Vista Home Premium ticking over nicely. There's a Dual Layer DVD Burner, and the P200-143 is one of only two in the P200 range that features Draft N wireless. This would make the P200-143 ideal for streaming HD content wirelessly were it not for the inability to play it back smoothly, further adding to the rather unbalanced nature of the specification. Bluetooth 2.0 EDR provides further wireless connectivity, though wired networking is restricted to 10/100 LAN with no Gigabit Ethernet to be found.
All in all it's a real mixed bag, and on paper the P200-143 could be considered little more than mediocre in comparison to far better specified competitors. Casual users will probably find little fault, but those who are even remotely discerning will be severely disappointed.