Toshiba Satellite Pro T130

  • Editors' rating
    7.4 Very good

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Clear, bright screen
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No optical drive
  • Disappointing keyboard
  • Moderate graphics performance

Toshiba's Satellite Pro T130 is a 13.3in. ultraportable with an Intel CULV processor. With starting prices at under £400 (ex. VAT) and claimed battery life of up to 11 hours, notebooks like the Satellite Pro T130 could do for business users what netbooks have done for consumers. As long, that is, as the lack of an optical drive isn't a deal-breaker.

Design
Toshiba places the Satellite Pro T130 in its Ultra Mobile range, although the weight is on the high side at 1.76kg. Still, the dimensions — 32.3cm wide by 22.3cm deep by 2.22-3.42cm thick — are tidy enough.

The chassis is made from a tough plastic, some of which is silvered to look like metal trim. The 'Precious Black' casing has a shiny finish, with a sort of honeycomb latticework effect on the lid and keyboard surround. These design touches are inherited from the consumer Satellite range, and may not appeal to all of the Satellite Pro's target business market.

The screen also has another consumer-orientated feature: a TruBrite coating that boosts image and video clarity, but can be very reflective. You'll need to arrange the lighting carefully when you're working on documents. The 13.3in. LED-backlit TFT display is sharp and bright, though, and the native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels makes it feasible to have two document windows open side-by-side.

The keyboard is disappointing. There's a lot of flex, which heavy-handed typists in particular may find unsatisfactory. The keys also feel flimsy under the fingers, although they're a good size and have plenty of travel.

The touchpad is the merest recess in the wrist rest. It has a less glossy finish than its surroundings, and is easy to find by feel alone. The touchpad has embedded scroll zones and supports pinch-to-zoom (which could be more responsive in our view). The mouse buttons, which are embedded in a single long strip of silvered plastic, are awkward to use. They need a serious press rather than a tap with the thumb, and we found it too easy to press the centre of the strip and get no response.

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Apart from the keyboard and touchpad the only other button on the keyboard section is the on/off switch. This is large and backlit (in green) all the time the machine is on. Beneath the mouse buttons, embedded in silver plastic trim, are the status lights, which are visible when the notebook is closed.

Above the screen is a VGA-resolution webcam. This can be used for video calling and also for login based on face recognition.

Features
There are four Satellite Pro T130 models currently listed at Toshiba's UK web site. Our review unit, the T130-14Q costs £549 (ex. VAT). There's only one more expensive model, the £599 T130-15F, which has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Our review sample uses the 1.4GHz Core 2 Solo SU3500. The two less cheaper models — the £449 T130-14U and £399 T130-14M — both have 1.3GHz Intel Celeron 743 processors.

The T130-14Q (our review model) comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, expandable to a maximum of 8GB. Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) is installed by default, and you can downgrade to Windows XP Professional via the provided DVD if required. Unfortunately, as with netbooks, there's no integrated optical drive, so you'll have to find an external unit to implement the downgrade. The downgrade to Windows XP Professional is only offered in three of the four Satellite Pro T130 models: the entry-level T130-14M comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and has no downgrade option.

For storage, the T130-14Q has a 250GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. The top-end model has a 320GB drive. Graphics in all four models are handled by Intel's integrated GMA 4500MHD. Ethernet (10/100Mbps), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth are present across the board.

There are three USB 2.0 connectors. Two are on the right edge of the chassis and are positioned quite close together so that, depending on the size of your peripherals' connectors, you may not be able to access both simultaneously. The third is on the left edge and supports sleep and charge.

The left edge also contains VGA-out connector and HDMI connectors for external displays, while the right edge carries the Ethernet (RJ-45) port, microphone and headphone jacks and a multi-format card reader that accepts Memory Stick- and microSD-compatible media.

Among the extras Toshiba adds to Windows 7 is an application called Bulletin Board. This is a sort of virtual pinboard. You can have as many different boards as you need, and to them you can attach notes, to-do lists, application shortcuts, photos and more. The look is quite consumer-friendly, but we think business users may find Bulletin Boards handy for organising small projects or keeping ideas and thoughts together.

Performance & battery life
The T-130's Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 3.2 (out of 7.9) is a little disappointing. The WEI corresponds to the lowest component score, which in this case is Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance); Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero) came in little better at 3.3. The Processor (calculations per second) score was also on the low side at 3.4, although 5.0 for RAM (Memory operations per second) and 5.7 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) is more impressive.

As with many ultraportables and most netbooks, performance should be acceptable for mainstream productivity tasks, but too much multitasking, or graphically demanding applications, are likely to slow things down.

Toshiba claims a battery life of up to 11 hours for the Satellite Pro T130, making much of this statistic in its marketing. In fact, the 11-hour claim is only made for the two most expensive models: The two Celeron-powered models have a claimed battery life of up to 8.5 hours.

Had there been an optical drive we would have run our movie playback test. Instead we tested the battery life by asking the T130 to play music from the hard drive with Wi-Fi running, while making light use of the system. Under these conditions, it ran for 6 hours and 11 minutes on the Balanced Power Plan. Other power plans, which conserve the battery more, may get you a longer life. Depending on your usage pattern, you may be able to get through a full working day on battery power.

Conclusion
The ultraportable Satellite Pro T130 could deliver all-day computing with appropriate usage patterns and power management settings. But its keyboard could be better, it lacks an optical drive and the glossy chassis design may not be to all tastes.

 

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