Due to a mishap; e.g. my son dropping my Core™ i3 version of the Asus A72F which broke the “I”, “O” and “9” keys. I went out to Best Buy to purchase a new notebook computer for myself, it’s very hard to develop in PHP when your “9” key doesn’t work, no “(“, it gets used a lot while coding!.
Obviously given the title of this article; I plumped for the Toshiba Satellite P875-S7200; which is a very highly specified notebook for the $700 price tag. It features a 3rd generation Core™ i5-3210M processor, 6GB of DDR3-1600 memory, and a 750GB 5400rpm SATA hard disk drive.
The P875-S7200 also features four USB3 ports; an Intel Centrino wireless network chip, so I can connect to my home Wireless N network at 144Mbps; although disappointingly only features a 10/100 Ethernet port. It’s completed by the usual multi-format media card reader on the front, 15 pin VGA and HDMI video out ports and microphone in, headphone out sockets on the right side.
Booting the notebook up for the first time is the same as any new Windows Vista/7 computer; asks for your locale preferences, new username/password and internet connection settings; you’re into Windows within minutes. The P875-7200 comes pre-installed with Norton Internet Security, which comes with a Toshiba branded security center; which proclaims “you are not protected” and offers three months of Norton for free. I declined by immediately uninstalling this piece of bloatware; installing my preferred Anti-Virus, AVG (Free Edition). It also offered a trial version of Microsoft Office 2010, which was also swiftly uninstalled with a whole host of Toshiba branded utilities.
The performance is very good as you’d expect; but despite having a faster third generation Core™ i5-3210M processor and 6GB DDR3-1600 RAM; it didn’t feel much faster in general use than the second generation Core™ i3 330M, 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM notebook it replaced. But in crunching SETI@Home units, it’s much faster, The Core™ i3 notebook completed a unit in an average of 22,309 seconds, while the Core™ i5 completed units in an average time of 14,343 second, a difference of 2hrs 21mins, which is huge, even more impressive as the Toshiba is much cheaper!
The Satellite P875-S7200 features a 17.3in, 1600 x 900 resolution LED-backlit TFT-LCD 16:9 widescreen display, which is bright, offers good colours and a wide viewing angle; and is powered by an integrated Intel® HD graphics chip. The notebook also features Harman Kardon audio, which offers impressive frequency response and volume given the diminutive size of the built-in speakers. But it does have a big downside; the volume limiter/compressor is very intrusive; ruins dynamic music, when volume is maxed out, quiet sections are expanded and loud sections are compressed. Finally, the P875-S7200’s A/V system is completed by a Double-layer DVD±RW optical drive.
The P875-7200 offers 720p (1280 x 720 or 1280 x 800 resolution) HD recording from it’s built in webcam; and a very clear sounding microphone, which is great for high quality video chats over Skype or your chosen Messenger, normally sub $1,000 notebooks don’t come with such high quality hardware, especially in 17.3in (1600 x 900) trim, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this notebook!
The keyboard and touchpad are both very responsive; although I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have bought this notebook online as the scrabble piece style keyboard didn’t appeal to me after using a traditional laptop keyboard for more than 10 years, but I really like it after actually using the keyboard in-store. The only oddity is the function keys, F1, F2, F3 etc… don’t work unless you press the FN key, the primary functions are media keys, brightness, Wi-Fi om/off etc, to refresh a webpage now, I have to press FN+F5, which is kinda annoying for someone who has always had the F# keys as the primary function, but it’s not a deal breaker, at least not for me!
For $700; I would most definitely recommend this notebook; there are little things like the F# keys not being the primary function and the lack of a Gigabit wired network adapter taints the polish a little but it’s things you’d get used to; most wouldn’t notice the 100mbps speed restriction unless you happen to be transferring very large files around your local network on a regular basis.