Review Price £617.86
Toshiba Satellite U500-1EX - 13.3in Touchscreen Laptop - Performance & Verdict
In testing we've compared our review system to the previous model, the U500-178, and the excellent HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea - another 13.3in laptop that's based on an AMD ultra-low voltage processor. As we'd expect, the HP falls someway behind both iterations of the Toshiba, but it's impressive that our Core i3 U500 defeats the previous version despite its limited integrated graphics. It also shows the value of the Core i3 processor, which performs to a similar level as "high-performance" Core 2 Duos did, while being classed as an entry-level chip.
Nothing can hide the deficiency of Intel's integrated graphics, however, not even the relatively undemanding Trackmania Nations. In this test it does at least produce a vaguely playable 23.5 frames per second (fps), but that's half what the previous U500 and its nVidia GeForce 210M graphics achieved. In fairness to this review model, though, it's a good deal cheaper - the U500-178 was £899.99 at launch - so it's hardly surprising it doesn't match up in every respect. It does at least better the HP by quite a small margin considering their respective prices and spec.
Where the lack of significant graphics power hinders any gaming potential, it does mean a slight improvement in battery life. Where the previous U500 stopped short of three hours, the U500-1EX manages a slightly more acceptable 189 minutes (3hrs 9mins) in MobileMark's Productivity segment and almost reaches two hours of DVD playback.
These aren't amazing results and are eclipsed quite easily by the low-voltage HP, but they are an improvement and should be further enhanced by using Toshiba's Eco Mode power saving profile. We still feel, however, that 2.4kg is far too heavy for a 13.3in laptop, so whether you'd want to use it on the move that much is up for debate.
We were also disappointed to discover that the standard one year warranty on the U500-1EX is only a carry-in warranty, rather than the usual collect & return offered by 90 per cent of manufacturers. Naturally this can be upgraded, but as a starting point it seems needlessly stingy.
Good performance and a generous set of features stand the U500-1EX in good stead, but it's too bulky and cumbersome for genuine mobile use and the touchscreen is largely superfluous. It's still fundamentally a decent laptop, but you're better off with the cheaper, near identical non-touchscreen version.