Lose the Gloss, Toshiba

Though most of the industry has been moving away from glossy plastic, it seems like Toshiba must be sitting on an absolute stockpile of it. That's the only explanation I can think of for how pervasive it is on their notebooks compared to the competition. While the Taiwanese manufacturers (Acer, Asus, Clevo, MSI, Compal) oftentimes have notions of style that seem unusual for American consumers, the thinking behind Toshiba's notebook aesthetic is downright inscrutable. Toshiba has been catering to Americans long enough to know better and for a time they did; older Toshiba notebooks were more austere and of generally excellent quality.

Our review unit comes with a cherry red lid and interior finish, but Toshiba offers black, silver, and brown finishes as well. Glossy plastic on the lid can be irritating but at least makes a modicum of sense, and under all of the colored finishes is a tasteful pattern.

The color scheme inside the notebook is also reasonably tasteful, but again the major complaint is the relentless use of glossy plastic: the only place Toshiba doesn't employ it is the bottom of the unit. For a second it looked like they might have gone with matte plastic for the speaker grilles above the keyboard, but then I looked at them from another angle and they reflected a healthy enough amount of light to prove me wrong. Of course there's glossy plastic used for the screen bezel, too, but at least it doesn't seem as asinine here (where glossy plastic is used everywhere) as it does on other notebooks (where glossy plastic is only used on the bezel and maybe the lid.)

The more astute reader has probably noticed fingerprints on the image of the keyboard: that's because the L645D's keyboard is glossy and flex-riddled. Typing on it isn't a tremendous chore, but it's not a pleasant experience either. The keys feel somewhat mushy, and the odd bevelling of the surfaces combined with the glossy finish feels downright bizarre to the touch. The WASD cluster on my desktop keyboard looks like Pigpen had a field day with it; I can't imagine what these keys are going to look like when they're put under aggressive use.

The delineation of the touchpad beneath the keyboard is next to impossible to spot in the photo, but it sports a different texture in use and is surprisingly comfortable. This is actually one of the strong suits of the L645D; while using it I've never felt a great need to plug in an external mouse the way I have with other review units, and there's even a dedicated touchpad toggle. There's strong action on the buttons, too.

Toshiba advertises "Dolby Advanced Audio" for their speakers, but in practice I found sound quality to be par for the course as far as laptop speakers are concerned: tinny, devoid of bass, and needing to be nearly maxed out to reach an enjoyable audio level. In a pinch these are going to be fine, but anyone planning on using this notebook for multimedia is going to want to either connect other speakers or use headphones.

Finally, the bottom of the notebook has the usual and much appreciated hatches for the user-upgradeable memory, hard disk, and wireless connectivity.

While I haven't been the most charitable to Toshiba in regard to the design of the L645D, there's a crucial component missing here that bears repeating: pardon my French, but the damn thing can be found for $619. At that price, Toshiba is aiming this thing square at Joe Sixpack, someone who wants as much computer as he can get without spending up.

Introducing the Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4106 AMD's Fastest Mobile Dual-Core
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  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    5400 RPM HDD, decent CPU hampered by terrible graphics, intentionally ruined graphics drivers, glossy screen, 10/100 ethernet?

  • XZerg - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    no usb3 also.

    it feels like these guys and many others purposely f**k up on AMD version to ensure they make more even though they could have sold it at a much cheaper price with all the bells than what a similar config from intel would have been.
  • alent1234 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    it's $619. some people don't care about good graphics or USB3. some people just want a laptop to surf the internet and hold some data

    i just want something in the $600 range with a 15" screen, SB and 500GB hard drive. i use android and iOS a lot more than Windows so most of the time the laptop is off.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Then why the decent CPU?

    Why the blu-ray drive?

    They're setting a standard the rest of the system utterly fails to match.
  • alent1234 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    because this stuff is dirt cheap now. it's not like they make this stuff up. they have projected selling prices and profits per unit. they get a bill of materials from suppliers before designing something and prices probably dropped so much they can put in more hardware and still sell for a low price.

    a lot of times it's cheaper to use a more expensive part but use less parts in your products overall. think apple. it makes logistics easier and cheaper. and since toshiba is part of the blu ray consortium they are pushing their other products with this
  • Sam125 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I think AMD was the first to realize that there comes a point where going dirt cheap is kind of stupid when you end up with gimped/lopsided systems like this L645D which is why they're cutting the manufacturer out of the picture when it comes to choosing a balanced system architecture. That's why going SOC always made sense for AMD but not Intel.
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Seriously. Go to Newegg and look at the cheapest Core i3 laptops. They are all ProBookks that are mostly under $500. I'd rather get a slightly bigger laptop for less than gimp out just for "portability" (The Probooks are 5.25 lbs. That's plently portable enough)
  • mino - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Sorry sir to spoil your party, but calling the second-best IGP (after Brazos) on the amrket a terribel graphics ?

    Well shall we talk about ALL those Intel notebooks (taking 50% of the market) selling with their IGP's ... who not only do not have the performance are not actually able to _run_most of the graphics stuff ?

    Just remember, those Intel notebooks had a similar or faster CPU on board ... and sold for much higher prices ...
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Do you think I'm anti-AMD or something?

    Because I'm not.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    HD 4250 is hardly the "second-best" IGP. In order, the best IGPs at present are:
    GeForce 320M (only in MacBook)
    HD 6310 (Brazos E-series)
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 (not as compatible with games, but generally more than twice as fast as the other stuff below)
    GeForce 9400M (yup, this was still faster than the 4250!)
    HD 6250 (Brazos C-series)
    HD 4250. Yay! So I'd put it as the seventh-best IGP, or sixth-best if you want to lump the two Brazos IGPs together. (I didn't because they have wildly different clocks.)

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