- Review Date: 07/27/11
- Bottom line:
The Toshiba Satellite L755-S5271 budget laptop delivers competent processing, basic gaming, and a battery that takes you through most of your day.
New mature design. Light weight. Good battery life. Intel Core i3-2310M processor provides both processing power and graphics processing. 5 hour battery-life.
Slight flexing in the chassis. Keyboard layout may not please everyone.
The Toshiba Satellite L755-S5271 ($579.99 list, at Amazon) budget laptop delivers competent processing, basic gaming, and a battery that takes you through most of your day. Aimed at students and casual users, the L755-S5271 gives you everything you need for a little work and play.
The L755-S5271 veers away from the candy-coated look of other Toshiba laptops. Instead, it sports a checkered pattern called "Matrix Silver." This Satellite will appeal to buyers outside of middle school, and that's a definite plus. The glossy plastic covers the lid and palm rest with a patterned finish that hides fingerprints fairly well.
You will notice a bit of flexing in the plastic chassis when you lift the laptop. Measuring 1.48 by 14.96 by 9.84 inches (HWD), the laptop is fairly light, weighing only 5.3 pounds. That's lighter than both the HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl ($649.99 list, 4.5 stars) (5.6 pounds) and the Editors' Choice Asus U56E-BBL5 ($649.99 list, 4 stars) (5.5 pounds). The size and weight may not be as portable as a netbook or ultraportable, but it's definitely light enough to carry in a backpack or laptop bag.
The L755-S5271 has a full-sized chiclet-style keyboard with an adjacent number pad. The keyboard layout bothered me a bit, but that wasn't unexpected. Toshiba lays out keyboards so that the numeric pad and the traditional keyboard are slightly off-set. It's a matter of personal preference, but it's not mine. Regardless, the typing experience is quite smooth, though the spacebar is much shorter than I'm used to. Below the keyboard is a multitouch trackpad. The trackpad itself works quite well, allowing you to pinch and zoom and scroll with two fingers. As I used it I had no problems with the trackpad, though it was placed quite far to the left side of the palmrest, making right-handed use a bit awkward. The buttons click smoothly and comfortably, but they are a little loud. These sorts of details are very subjective, so I would recommend that you try before you buy.
The L755-S5271 has a 15.6-inch widescreen display, with a 1,366 by 768 resolution. That resolution is common in the 15-inch space, and it will let you enjoy video up to 720p. The widescreen display provides enough space to tile two windows side by side. The display is paired with two stereo speakers with Dolby Advanced Audio. I tested the sound quality by shuffling through songs on Pandora, and found them to provide decent sound at low volume, but the sound quality drops off a bit as the volume is increased. The quality of sound is good enough for one or two people to sit close and watch a DVD at medium volume without noticing any issues, but turning it up for many to hear will leave you wishing you had external speakers.
The feature set on the L755-S5271 is fairly standard for a budget laptop, with two standard USB 2.0 ports, and a third USB 2.0 port that also offers Toshiba's Sleep n' Charge, a feature that lets you charge cellphones, media players, and the like while the laptop is powered down. The L755-S5271 is also outfitted with a Kensington Lock slot, microphone and headphone jacks, and a VGA output for connecting an external monitor. One great feature is the inclusion of an HDMI output, which lets you connect your laptop to an HDTV and view uncompressed 1080p content on a larger screen. Unfortunately, Toshiba has only included a DVD burner, so your high-definition content will need to either be streamed from the Web or saved to some sort of flash media. Speaking of which, the L755-S5271 also has a built-in multi-format card reader (SD, SDHC, MS/Pro, MMC, xD).
For networking, the L775-S571 offers both Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi, but features like WiMAX mobile broadband and WiDi 2.0 aren't usually seen on systems in this price range, though they are both found on the Sony VAIO VPC-EH14FM/B ($659.99 list, 3.5 stars). The Satellite L775-S571 is also equipped with a 640GB 5,400rpm hard drive, which is larger than the 500GB drive found on the top-rated HP dv6-6013cl and matches the drive found in the Asus U56E-BBL5.
Toshiba also takes advantage of this hard drive space by pre-installing software and applications onto the laptop. While the desktop screen is noticably empty, Toshiba has included a selection of sample games from WildTangent, a starter version of Microsoft Office 2010, a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security, and both the Google Chrome web browser and a Google toolbar for Inetrnet Explorer. You'll also find a dedicated link to Amazon, a Toshiba-branded ebook reader, and Skype. Last, but certainly not least, is Toshiba App Place a proprietary app store offering an assortment of desktop apps in categories like Social Networking, Productivity, Utilities, and Games & Music. While there are a few free offerings, most of these come with a monthly fee ranging from $3-$10.
The L755-S5271 is equipped with a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M dual-core processor, part of Intel's Sandy Bridge line-up. Though the Core i3 is at the cheaper end of Intel's processor spectrum, it's still a strong CPU, providing performance similar to the first-generation top-tier i3 processors, but adding vast improvements to graphics processing. In our general performance test, PCMark 7, the L755-S5271 scored 1,995 points, outscoring both the Sony VPC-EH14FM/B (1,851) and the Core i5-equipped Asus U56E-BBL5 (1,920). In our CineBench R11.5 processor speed test, the L755-S5271 scored 2.04 points, beaten only by the Asus U56E-BBL5, which scored 2.60 points thanks to a Core i5 with TurboBoost technology.
In multimedia tests the L755-S5271's scores were nearly identical to that of the Sony VPC-EH14FM/B. In our Handbrake video encoding test the L755-S5271 scored 2 minutes 24 seconds, identical to the Sony VPC-EH14FM/B (2:24), but behind the Asus U56E-BBL5 (1:55). In our Photoshop CS5 image filtering test the L755-S5271 completed our test in 5 minutes 37 seconds, nearly the same as the Sony VPC-EH14FM/B (5:35), but behind the Asus U56E-BBL5 (4:13). The L755-S5271 is certainly capable of light photo editing and editing a YouTube clip or two, but anyone who has done multimedia work on a mainstream laptop will find themselves frustrated by how long it takes to do so on the L755-S5271.
The performance provided by Intel's integrated graphics processing may not provide the advanced gaming performance of a dedicated GPU, but there is still some gaming capability even in this price range. In our general graphics test, 3DMark 06, the L755-S5271 scored 4,549 points at medium resolution settings and 3,787 points at native resolution. This may not be enough to support high-end games, but it's enough for World of Warcraft or Torchlight. In actual gaming tests, the L755-S7521 scored 14.18 frames per second (fps), and 18.5 fps in Lost Planet 2, both at 1,024 by 768 resolution settings. Neither game would run at higher resolution settings, but these scores still rival those of the HP dv6-6013cl, which scored 14.3 fps (Crysis) and 13.9 fps (Lost Planet 2).
The L755-S5271 performed fairly well in our MobileMark 2007 battery test. Its 6-cell (48Wh) battery lasted 5 hours 16 minutes. That's virtually identical to the HP dv6-6013cl (5:17 with a 55Wh battery), but not quite as long lived as the Asus U56E-BBL5 (7:34), but the Asus managed this best-in-class time with a much larger 74Wh battery. The L755-S5271 may not take you through a full day of work or classes, but it will get you through a DVD double feature without needing to be plugged in.
For the student on a budget, or the parent buying them their first laptop, the Toshiba Satellite L755-S527 is just the right fit for an inexpensive laptop that offers both productivity and entertainment features. Buyers looking for a fuller feature set in the same price range might be more interested in the Editors' Choice Asus U56E-BBL5, which has WiMAX and WiDi 2.0, in addition to a longer battery life and more powerful processor.