Toshiba Satellite Pro 6000

toshiba-satpro-6000-thumb.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.0 Very good

Pros

  • Reasonably light
  • good ergonomics
  • good battery life.

Cons

  • Plastic lid
  • pressure stud pointing device
  • not particularly fast for its class.

You could take the view that the Satellite Pro 6000 is a notebook PC designed by a committee -- but fortunately it's a committee that knows what it's talking about. The hypothetical committee's job was to come up with a business-orientated system that incorporates all the necessary features, has a degree of flexibility, doesn't weigh too much and doesn't run out of battery life at the drop of a hat.

This it has done, and all for a reasonably affordable £1,099 (ex. VAT), neatly fulfilling the final stipulation on the wish-list.

The core specification will raise no eyebrows considering the price: you get a 1GHz processor, 128MB of SDRAM and a 20GB Toshiba MK2018GAP hard disk.

The CPU is a Mobile Pentium III Processor-M with the latest power saving technology and 512KB of on-die Level 2 cache compared to its predecessor's 256KB. However, you only get 128MB of memory, which is the bare minimum for a system running either Windows 2000 Professional or XP Professional (you chose the first time you boot).

In fact, the actual memory available to the OS and applications is even less, since 16MB is sequestered by the graphics subsystem, with a little help from the ALi CyberALADDiN-T motherboard chipset. This features a Trident CyberBlade XP graphics accelerator and the aforementioned shared memory architecture.

The general quality of construction is adequate but not the stuff of awards, with a plastic lid that won't shield the screen from travel damage like an alloy one. Still, the weight has been kept down to 2.75kg, which isn't bad for a full-sized notebook. This is due in part to the two-spindle design: there's an external floppy drive that weighs 250g and connects via a USB port.

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The 24-speed TEAC CD-224E CD-ROM drive is removable, so you can extend the Satellite Pro 6000's repertoire by replacing it with a DVD-ROM, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo unit or a second hard disk or battery pack. Drives can be hot-swapped with the aid of a simple utility that resides conveniently on the Windows taskbar.

Some notebook manufacturers have taken the plunge and ditched the conventional parallel, serial and PS/2 ports in favour of USB, but Toshiba has not yet followed them. The Satellite Pro 6000 has all the legacy ports, as well as two USB connectors and an expansion bus for use with a port replicator, so whatever your existing setup, you shouldn't have any problem hooking up to peripherals.

All models have a 10/100BaseTX LAN and V.90 modem built in as standard, and variants with 802.11b wireless networking and optionally Bluetooth are available now. It's still early days with wireless networking, but Toshiba is clearly trying to avoid getting knocked off any shortlists by failing to offer this capability with the Satellite Pro 6000.

Toshiba knows how to design a good keyboard, and the Satellite Pro 6000's is logical, spacious enough for fast typing, and generally quite comfortable to use. Even so, the overall effect may be diminished for some users by the trademark 'finger joystick' pointing device set into the keyboard -- many people find a touchpad easier to control accurately.

You can opt for a larger screen, but this model comes with the standard 14.1in. XGA-resolution TFT panel, which was bright enough not to pose any readability problems under normal lighting.

Performance is no more than so-so for a 1GHz Mobile PIII-M, as can be seen from the overall Winstone result of 27.2. The component-level tests didn't show up any serious weak spots, so the likelihood is that the combination of a moderate helping of SDRAM and the shared memory architecture slows things down somewhat.

Battery life, on the other hand, is above average, with BatteryMark 4.01 returning a figure of 3 hours and 19 minutes. Many notebooks still disappoint in this area, so this result is a distinct plus point for the Satellite Pro 6000.

Toshiba's Satellite Pro 6000 has been shrewdly judged to appeal to the general business buyer needing an affordable and sensibly specified notebook. The wireless networking option is useful, but this product's main appeal is as a no-frills, good-value portable workhorse.

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