Tag Archives: laptop

A tech review – Toshiba Satellite A300/0C3 (PSAGCA-0C301N)

Note: This is an old post from another blog I had at one time, that I found and copied this from. The laptop in the review is dated and useless but because this was a well received post at the time I’ve decided to repost it for posterity. First published on: Apr 24, 2009 @ 05:20

 

Being that this is usually a blog I post on a couple of times a year when something pisses me off enough to write on it, I don’t usually do things like a product review. But seeing as its 5am on a day I’m supposed to be up around this time on, I guess it can’t hurt to type for several hours about a product I’m not being paid to plug.

The laptop in question is the Toshiba Satellite A300/OC3, or according to all the fucking labels on it, the Toshiba Satellite A300 PSAGCA-OC301N which doesn’t seem to occur very frequently in google searches, making this laptop quite difficult (I use that word lightly) to find any non-commercial non-webstore sites containing any sort of technical information on. So here we go.

Off the shelf, this laptop comes with a 2ghz Intel Core 2 “Centrino” processor, with the model number T6400. It had 2ghz of RAM and a 320 5400RPM hard disk. The onboard videocard is an ATi Radeon HD 3470 with 256mb of onboard RAM. Straight out of the box, this laptop has the potential to replace an older Athlon X2, Pentium 4 or early model Core 2 Duo or Solo desktop computer, Bolstered with a larger hard disk, and some more RAM it can start to replace all but the medium-high to highest ended desktop computers. The machine comes pre-installed with Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit, but has the option to install Home Premium 64bit (Boot the machine while holding 0).

The wireless card in the machine is the Intel 5100, which works with Ubuntu linux straight out-of-the-box, and will even break a WEP connection using aircrack-ng (I broke my own home wireless as a test) without any need to change settings at all. Unfortunately it doesn’t like to work under OSX, however the onboard Realtek8168 LAN adapter appears to, although I haven’t really bothered. The range on the wireless card is pretty damned good too, I seem to be able to pick up my shitty netgear router from over 25 metres away, along with just about everyone in the houses adjacent’s wireless connections with pretty good signal. Unfortunately, the button that turns the wireless on and off is a switch, which sits on the very front of the machine. So if you’re a fat fuck, or lazy, and you have the laptop on your lap, resting against your gut, theres a good chance you’re going to accidently switch off the wireless, which is the most fucking irritating thing on the planet.

The laptop itself is very shiny and professional looking – until you start using it. The keyboard is black and shiny, the lid is shiny as as the mouse buttons and the finish on the wrist rests, and around the keyboard. This isn’t a problem when clean, but after use it all becomes very dirty very quickly. The finish smears very quickly with fingerprints, and the dried salt from sweat, making the machine feel unclean and look fucking gross.

The touchpad mouse on this model of laptop is highly accurate, with built-in scroll horizontal and vertical, at the right and bottom of the keypad. The scrolling takes getting used to, but it all ends up working seemlessly after a bit of practice. The touchpad is about the only thing that doesn’t seem to get dirty. One problem I have with the touchpad is the inability to change the side of the vertical scroll, as I use the touchpad with my left hand (but a mouse with my right). The big mouse buttons make a rather loud “click” which can be heard a room away if its quiet. This has annoyed me when someone else has been using the laptop and I can hear the click click click from the other room.

The keyboard on this model of laptop is glossy black, and so it smears with fingerprints very fast. It is also impossible to see in the dark, which is not a problem if you’re a touch typer so much, but to the person who requires the odd finger repositioning or to use a symbol button, it gets a little frustrating. there are 6 multimedia buttons which are LED lit, and part of the plastic, with a touch-sensitive pad that picks up your finger but not anything else apparently, which I’m not sure is annoying yet or not.

The speakers on the laptop are pretty decent quality Harman/Kardon (more like Karman/Hardon amirite?) that can be turned up quite far without distortion, and are capable of playing music at a reasonably quality.

Built into the laptop shell is a webcam and microphone, which comes with really annoying software, but has pretty decent resolution and the mic picks up voice loud and clear. Not sure if Ubuntu knows its there though (but if you’re using ubuntu you don’t have any friends to webcam with anyway AMIRITE?).

The laptop has 4 USB ports, one of which is also an eSATA port, a HDMI port which displays perfect HD, SVideo Out, speaker and microphone ports, and a card reader (SD, Sony Memory Stick/Duo, and Compact Flash), there is also an expansion port on the side (right where you can snap the end off anything hanging out, with an overzealous left hand). The laptop even brags the ability to charge your USB devices while turned off, as one of the USB ports has constant power. I assume it only works if the laptop is also plugged in, as I have not tested this “feature”. It also has a DVDRW. I wasn’t gonna mention that because I didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to wonder if it did or didn’t, but seeing as this is the internet, I assume there ARE people that stupid, and you MIGHT be one of them (hint: you probably are).

The battery appears to run for about 2 hours on “full power” mode under Windows Vista, and about an hour and 30 minutes on the default power setting under Ubuntu (which seems to like to run the fans pretty high the whole time). Powersaver Mode on Vista gets the machine to almost 3 hours, but don’t think about actually doing anything productive. The best thing you’ll get away with without frustration is reading Wikipedia or a similar mainly text site.

Seeing as this is not a gaming laptop, I’m not really inclined to talk about its gaming performance, but it runs Counter-Strike Source at about 100~ fps on medium-high graphics, Fallout 3 fares a little worse on medium graphics, and World of Warcraft is very much playable on medium-high.

To run this whole typed ‘review’ into the ground, and to sum it up, here’s the TL;DR version:

Toshiba Satellite A300/0C3 (PSAGCA-0C301N)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (Centrino) @ 2GHZ (T6400) – 800mhz FSB
RAM: 2GB (Single stick with 2nd slot available, total capacity 8gb under 64bit OS)
HDD: 320gb 5400RPM hard disk
Display: 15.4inch widescreen, built in webcam (1.3mp) + microphone, 1280×800 max resolution.
Videocard: ATi (Mobility) Radeon 3470 with 256mb onboard RAM, HDMI/SVideo out
LAN: gigabit wired ethernet, Intel 5100 wireless b/g/n
Unimportant shit: 5-in-1 Card Reader, DVDRW “super multi” drive, 6 cell battery, headphone and mic jacks, harman/kardon speakers
Dimensions: 2.7kg, 36.2cm x 26.7cm x 3.8cm (WxLxH)

Pros:
Decent desktop replacement, powerful and attractive
Decent mobile gamer
Cheap considering (mine cost about $1300 AU and they’re cheaper now)
Shiny (oooh shiny)

Cons:
Gets dirty FAST
Black keyboard you can’t see in the dark
BADLY PLACED wireless switch
Preinstalled software is very business-user oriented, and thus I had alot of stuff to delete when I first fired up the machine.

And this concludes my first (possibly last) product review. Hopefully that was…useful….
Until next time.