Connectivity is where we see the first real sign of cost-cutting on the L300-29T, with the main downer being the lack of any digital video output. While this is quite a common omission on budget laptops, a good example being the Sony VAIO VGN-NS20E, this Toshiba is the first laptop we can remember getting through the labs in the past few years that’s lacking a memory card reader.
On the L300-29T’s left you’ll find a VGA output, Ethernet port and two USB ports, as well as a 54mm ExpressCard slot with a neat hinged flap similar to the aforementioned Sony. At the machine’s front, between the wireless switch and volume wheel are headphone and microphone jacks, while the right houses a third USB port, the DVD-Rewriter and power connector. At the back of the machine is a modem port, always a welcome inclusion for those unfortunate souls still on Dial-up.
Thankfully, Toshiba maintains its track-record of providing its Satellites with excellent speakers, since the L300-29T is one of the more sonically-accomplished mobile machines around. Located just above the keyboard, its speakers put out clear and crisp audio at high volume levels, even managing passable bass, thus creating a soundstage that a laptop three times the price wouldn’t be ashamed of.
Sorry to say the screens Toshiba has used in its machines don’t have a similarly consistent reputation, with the Satellite A350D-202 being an improvement over the rather poor example found on its predecessor. However, the L300-29T’s ‘old-fashioned’ 16:10 aspect ratio 15.4in screen with its 1,280 x 800 resolution is one of the better budget laptop displays we’ve come across.
Its semi-glossy coating makes colours bright and vivid, while the display brings out more dark detail in photos and films than many cheap laptops. Backlighting is even and text is razor sharp, too, though viewing angles are as shallow as one normally expects with budget laptops.
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