So far so impressive, but it’s when we get to the Satellite L300-29T’s internals that the effects of the budget price really become apparent. First of all there’s the choice of Intel processor, which rather than the usual Core 2 Duos or cheaper Pentiums is a Celeron Dual Core T3000 chip running at a measly 1.8GHz. While this does make it one of the lowest-performing CPUs we’ve seen in a full-size system, it is a dual-core processor, so it’s powerful enough for everyday tasks and even Full HD video is not a problem.
What’s far more crippling is that this machine is trying to run Vista Home Premium, an operating system that really needs about 3GB of RAM to be happy (2GB at the very least), on less than a single gigabyte – keeping in mind that part of the system’s memory is going towards the integrated Intel 4500 graphics. And it’s noticeable in even the smallest things, with something as simple as opening a menu sometimes taking several seconds when multitasking, while intensive usage slows things down to a crawl.
One consolation is that RAM is the cheapest and easiest component to upgrade on a laptop; getting it up to a far more reasonable 2GB should only cost you about £15 if you install it yourself. However, not everyone will have the technical know-how or confidence to do so, and we can’t help thinking it would better if Toshiba just put 2GB in to start with.
Hard drive capacity is also the same as that found on most netbooks, with the Satellite L300-29T sporting a 160GB 5,400rpm hard drive divided into data and system restore/backup partitions. As expected there’s no Bluetooth or Draft-N Wi-Fi – just regular old 802.11g – on board, though these aren’t features most users will particularly miss.
Given the limitations of its CPU and GPU, one would hope for good battery life from the L300-29T ‘s six-cell (44 Watt-hour) battery. Indeed performance was fairly decent, at just over three hours in our semi-intensive Productivity test. This might not be outstanding – the larger Acer Aspire 7735Z manages to almost equal it despite powering a far larger 17.3in screen – but for a cheap laptop it’s more than acceptable.
Overall then the Satellite L300-29T sports an excellent chassis and decent battery life for its £350 asking price, but is let down by its internals, especially the lack of RAM combined with its Vista OS. It’s real downfall, however, is that there are better value configurations of the L300 available. LaptopsDirect offer a Satellite Pro L300-26P with a dual-core 2.0GHz Pentium CPU and 2GB of RAM (albeit smaller 120GB hard drive) for £20 less (£330), or for £10 more (£360) you can get a L300-29X with a Celeron 1.8GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive from Comet.
Despite its decent chassis, excellent speakers and above-average screen, Toshiba’s Satellite L300-29T can barely handle Vista because of its 1GB of RAM, making it a poor choice unless you’re prepared to upgrade the RAM yourself.
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