First Looks: Toshiba Satellite A100

Satellite Delight

Satellite Delight

With the launch of the Qosmio G30, the world's first notebook with HD DVD-ROM drive, Toshiba is sending out a clear message to competitors from Taiwan and Korea that it is able to match the best they have had to offer, model for model and segment for segment. Admittedly, the focus of Toshiba notebooks has been primarily hinged on semi-portable audio-visual entertainment in recent times. The company's Qosmio range of multimedia notebooks is one of, if not the best implementation of its kind, but when it comes to portable notebooks that can be used daily as both a business machine and an entertainment deck, it's Korean names such as LG and Samsung that have been getting larger chunks of the pie. With the Satelite A100 however, Toshiba is bouncing right back and we reckon it's very worthy of your attention.

White-Pod

Owners of iPods will be happy to learn that the Satelite A100-P530 is available in white to match the color of their beloved digital audio player. Sunlight copper is also available but is reserved for the faster and more expensive Satelite A100-P545. Regardless of the three permutations of the Satelite A100, components such as the 15.4-inch WXGA TFT widescreen display, CD/DVD writer, 802.11a/b/g wireless LAN, four USB 2.0 ports, D-Sub video-out, S-Video TV-out, 5-in-1 card reader, FireWire 400, RJ11 modem jack, RJ-45 Ethernet jack, Mic-in and Earphone jack are all standard across the board. PC Card and ExpressCard slots are standard as well, which means the Satelite A100 series is at least forward looking in high-speed peripheral connectivity.

At 2.72kg and with ample surface area all around for even distribution, the bevy of connectors is all but expected from a notebook that is also meant to replace your clunky desktop PC.

Touch to Point and Start

A pleasant surprise on our A100-P540 is the Dual Mode touchpad.

At a single touch of Dual Mode icon, instantly changes and illuminates the touchpad from being a traditional, boring pointer to a quick-access touchpad for swift volume control and launching of six applications of which three are user customizable. For even greater convenience, a column of multimedia buttons (together with the power button) can be found on the left of the spacious keyboard, which like most notebooks these days is also programmed to serve alternate functions via simple combinations of keystrokes. All these conveniences really do give the impression that Toshiba is serious about you leaving behind external pointing devices altogether.

Multimedia Delight

If the dimension and weight of the A100 are beginning to put you off, simply pop in a DVD, with or without booting into Windows, and you'll soon find yourself chucking aside the material concerns. The brilliance of the 15.4-inch Clear SuperView display coupled with the pair of lively Harmon Kardon speakers will keep you popping movie after movie, CD after CD. It's just a shame that only the top of the range A100-P545 is configured with an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 VPU to put gaming enjoyment on the table.

Our Thoughts

Toshiba's expertise in multimedia notebooks that is its Qosmio range is clearly evident in the Satelite A100 series. Usability, integrated software and multimedia performance all reflected the meticulous product planning by the designers and engineers over at Toshiba. The only downer was battery consumption, but this is a component specific issue all manufacturers, including Toshiba, face due to the large, power hungry LCD screens used in desktop replacements like the Satelite A100.

For its core merits of convenience and digital entertainment, the Satelite A100 is a lot of notebook and not to forget quality for prices that start at USD$1,499.