The Toshiba Satellite P55-A5200 ($754.99 list) is a decent choice if you’re looking for a desktop replacement notebook that will stay in one place, like on your home office desk, most of the time. It makes a few tradeoffs for its large 15.6-inch 1080p HD screen, namely somewhat short battery life and no touch screen. If you’re a power user who wants to continue to use multimedia apps like Adobe’s Creative Suite products, then this is a good laptop for you. Just bear in mind that this isn’t the system you want to use as your primary transition to Windows 8.
Design and Features
The P55-A5200 is a traditional looking laptop. It has a silver finish, which Toshiba calls Prestige Silver, their term for a color that is neither bright silver nor dark silver. The system measures about 1.2 by 15.25 by 10 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 4.63 pounds, just short of five pounds. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of weight, consider today’s lighter ultrabooks and heavier tablets weigh half as much. The P55-A5200 has a built-in DVD burner and large 15.6-inch screen, both of which contribute to the system’s bulk.
The relatively large size of the system can be beneficial: The 15.6 inch screen is the right size for its 1,920 by 1,080 resolution properties, since you won’t have to worry about zooming in to the perfectly readable text and images on screen. The TruBrite TFT LCD display also works well for viewing 1080p HD videos, something that is common among laptops from manufacturers that are also known for their HDTV displays, like Sony, Samsung, and Vizio. Unfortunately, the display isn’t a touch screen, negating many of the benefits of Windows 8, which is touch optimized. You can use the responsive multi-touch trackpad for all your pointing needs in Windows 8, but it is annoying having to call up the Charms bar and the like from the trackpad. In particular, the trackpad has a chromed plastic ring around it, which breaks the flow during off-trackpad moves. Systems like the Editors’ Choice Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch ($700) and Asus VivoBook S500CA-DS51t ($679) have touch screens on systems in the same price range as the Toshiba.
The keyboard itself is a standard chiclet-style affair, backlit and with a decent feel. The P55-A5200 comes with a full numeric keypad to the right of the QWERTY keyboard, which will help students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) classes. The trackpad is centered on the QWERTY portion of the keyboard, which helps touch typing.
Like the budget Lenovo IdeaPad S405 ($549.99), the P55-A5200 uses a spinning hard drive. In this case, it’s a 750GB 5,400rpm SATA drive, which is somewhat slow (especially compared to a system with SSD/Flash Storage). On the plus side, the drive has a lot of space for media files like downloaded music and movies. If you need more space, you can hook up an external hard drive to one of the two USB 3.0 ports on the right side of the laptop. The two USB 2.0 ports on the left are better suited to hooking up external mice and printers. Since the system is a full sized laptop, you’ll find a pair of audio jacks, Ethernet, HDMI, and VGA connectors: All are full size without the need for adapters or dongles. WiFi is standard 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n with Bluetooth as well. The system is WiDi compatible, if you need yet another way to connect the system up to a monitor. The system has a SD card reader on the front, facing the user.
The system comes with a few pre-loaded apps, including Amazon, Wild Tangent Games, StumbleUpon, eBay, iHeartRadio, Vimeo, Skype, Toshiba Book Place, Netflix, Deals & Offers, Evernote Touch, Hulu Plus, Norton Internet Security (one-year subscription) News Place, an ad for Microsoft Office, and Origin (the game download service). Like most pre-loaded software, you’ll need to budget a bit of time to uninstall the ones you don’t want to use, unless you want all those program files cluttering up your hard drive. It’s not the end of the world, but it is kind of annoying if you need to scroll several pages on the Windows 8 Start screen with a trackpad or mouse.
Thanks to the P55-A5200′s Intel Core i5-3337U processor, 6GB of DDR3 memory, and Intel HD Graphics 4000, the system turns in decent performance numbers. It was better than average against the competition, quickly finishing the Handbrake video test in 1 minute 35 seconds, and the Photoshop CS6 test in 5:36. These scores lag the Lenovo Z400 Touch by a bit, but the P55-A5200 shows its mettle compared to lower-priced systems like the Lenovo IdeaPad S405.
The P55-A5200 showed itself to be a high performer among the hard drive-equipped systems, coming in with a 3,130 point score on PCMark7, which measures the systems’ day-to-day performance. The thing is, systems with SSD/Flash storage regularly score in the 4,500- to 5,000-point range on the same test. Suffice to say that the P55-A5200 is adequate for the time being, but it will start to feel slower sooner than a system with SSD. Users are being trained by their mobile devices to expect instantaneous app loading and booting thanks to the prevalent use of flash storage and SSDs in the mobile space.
The P55-A5200′s most disappointing stat is its three hour, forty-seven minute battery life. While this is decent for a user that has regular access to a power outlet, it is a lot less than the Acer Aspire M5-581T-6405 ($600), which clocks in at over six hours. True, the Acer M5-581T-6405 has a lower resolution screen, but time away from a plug is more important to you, then it is a better choice for the mobile PC user. To wit: The class-leading Lenovo Z400 Touch outlasted the P55-A5200 by over an hour.
With decent multimedia performance numbers and a large 1080p HD screen, the Toshiba Satellite P55-A5200 is a good value for users who need application performance over portability. The lack of a touch screen means that this probably shouldn’t be your primary Windows 8 system, but if you’re going to live in apps like Adobe Creative Suite or other non-touch apps, you should be fine. Under old guidelines the system meets thin and light characteristics, in today’s terms the P55-A5200 is a desktop replacement laptop. In that case, the P55-A5200 just can’t keep up with the similarly priced Editors’ Choice Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch on features and overall performance.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3337U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Type||General Purpose, Value, Desktop Replacement|
|Processor Speed||1.8 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||750 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc