Average user rating
At approximately 3.2 kilograms, including the AC adapter, the Satellite M30 series is a tad heavy for a thin-and-light--the average is more like 2.7 kilograms--and it has a big footprint, measuring 35.8 by 26.9 by 3.6 cm. We like the wide form factor, however, which balances in your arm better than most notebooks do. The charcoal-gray-and-silver colour scheme is exceptionally good-looking, too.
Although the keyboard action is slightly soft, we found it easy enough to type on--primarily because all keys are full size, and Toshiba doesn't skimp on editing keys. The touchpad sits nicely just below the keyboard; it's responsive, and it tracks smoothly. And unlike Acer's Aspire 2000, the Satellite M30 doesn't make you pound the mouse buttons to get them to respond. The notebook runs a bit warmer than most of the laptops we've tested recently, particularly on the bottom and on the main deck below the keyboard.
We liked the notebook's cool sound. The pair of Harman Kardon speakers mounted just below the screen produce very clear audio and even--believe it or not--some bass. It's no pavement thumper, but the sound is far better than the average notebook.
Overall, the selection of ports and slots on the Satellite M30 series is excellent. On first glance, you might think the notebook series is legacy-free, but there's a parallel port hidden under a cover on the left side, which is also home to a Secure Digital flash-card reader, a single PC Card slot, a mini-FireWire port, an S-Video output, and a Kensington lock port. The right side offers up three USB 2.0 ports in addition to the audio input and the headphone jacks. The back of the unit has ports for only the 10/100 Ethernet, the v.92 modem, and the VGA, while the front has five CD control buttons, the infrared port, a wireless On/Off switch, and a rotary volume control.
The Satellite M30 series consists of two basic models: the M35-S359 that we tested and the M30-S309--both with midrange specs for a thin-and-light. The Satellite M35-S359 features a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor and 512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, plus a 4,200rpm 60GB hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD combo drive. The Satellite M30-S309 carries nearly the same specs but with half the memory and only a 40GB hard drive. Both models sport a bright, crisp 15.4-inch, wide-aspect display and the Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200 graphics chip with 32MB of dedicated graphics memory. You also get 802.11b wireless, courtesy of Intel's Pro/Wireless 2100 mini-PCI card.
The Satellite M30 series comes with your choice of Microsoft Windows XP Professional or XP Home for the operating system. It also ships with some useful software, including InterVideo WinDVD for DVD movie playback, Acrobat Reader, Intuit Quicken 2003, Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2003, and DigiOn's Drag 'n' Drop and for CD-mastering and packet-writing chores. You also get a choice of Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business, and Microsoft Office OneNote 2003.
The Satellite M30 series came in last in mobile application performance in this small test group, running 21 points behind Sony's VAIO PCG-V505DX and a whopping 35 points behind Dell's Inspiron 500m. The culprit may have been Toshiba's Power Saver software, which, when in the Normal mode that we used for our tests, throttles the CPU down even further than other notebooks do under certain conditions. From its scores, it is apparent that mobile performance is not the Satellite's strong suit when running office and content-creation apps.
Mobile application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Satellite M30 series came in last place in battery life, although it did so by smaller margins than we saw in our mobile performance tests. Its 10.8V, 4,400mAh (48WHr) battery, carried the Satellite M30 series to more than three hours in battery life--12 minutes behind the Dell Inspiron 500m, with its 11.1V, 4,320mAh (48WHr) battery, and 36 minutes less than than the Sony VAIO PCG-V505DX, with its 11.1V, 4,400mAh (49WHr) battery. If you plan to do a lot of traveling with the Satellite M30 series, consider buying a second battery.
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).
Battery life (Longer bars indicate better performance)
- Dell Inspiron 500m
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Hitachi DK23EA-30 30GB 4,200rpm
- Sony VAIO PCG-V505DX
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm
- Toshiba Satellite M30 series
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200 32MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm
Toshiba bundles a moderately useful resource guide, plus a bunch of paper documentation that covers the company's legal bases. The PDF user guide is a simple rehash of the resource guide and is only moderately more useful; Toshiba could do a lot better. The company's Web site offers downloads, FAQs, e-mail tech-support, and so forth--enough to take care of most of your needs but not as comprehensive as we'd like to see.
Toshiba Satellite M30 series
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 13 30 70