In an age of increasingly svelte laptops, the Toshiba Satellite P845-S4200 ($671.50 direct) stands out for what it is and what it isn’t: simply put, it’s a laptop, and not one that concerns itself with donning the coveted “ultrabook” title. For users who value affordability but don’t want a bare-bones system stripped entirely of features, it’s a solid Windows 7-equipped budget laptop whose shortcomings—a so-so keyboard and buckets of bloatware, mainly—are tempered by its low price tag.
Design and Features
Although it’s not an ultrabook, at 13.7 inches wide and 9.2 inches deep and a thickness ranging from 0.95 – 1.14 inches, the Satellite P845-S4200 is nonetheless a fairly compact system. With a weight of 4.26 pounds, it’s lighter than the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 (5.07 pounds) and only slightly heavier than the similarly-priced ultraportable Dell Inspiron 13z (3.81 pounds). At any rate, users won’t have any reason to fear a hernia when slipping the P845-S4200 into their backpacks or laptop bags.
The P845-S4200′s sturdy aluminum chassis looks more expensive than actually is. Far from being the drab plastic chassis that one would expect in this price range, the Satellite P845-S4200 is decked out in a handsome silver finish that’s elegantly complemented by an etched aluminum texture adorning the surface.
With a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768, the P845-S4200′s glossy 14-inch screen does a fine job displaying text and images alike, giving the user plenty of eye candy in the form of bright colors and crisp detail. With a resolution capable of supporting 720P content, users can pop their DVDs into the P845-S4200′s internal DVD±RW drive and enjoy their movies in high definition. Two Harmon Kardon speakers are housed in symmetrical grilles beneath the display; I tested them out with the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” and they pumped out sound loud enough to fill a small room without sounding tinny. Although the bass level hardly qualifies as room-shaking, it’s nevertheless decent for a laptop.
The P845-S4200′s raised tile keyboard sports black keys and, despite its lack of a backlight, is relatively easy on the eyes. Alas, its shallow keystrokes are not as nearly as easy on the hands, and ultimately it makes for a fairly frustrating typing experience. The touch pad, on the other hand, is smooth and responsive, so while typing on the P845-S4200 may induce its share of grimacing, two-finger scrolling and pinch-zooming can be performed fluidly.
Port selection on the P845-S4200 is decent. An SD card reader can be found at the front of the system while, in addition to the system’s DVD±RW drive, the right side houses two USB 3.0 ports alongside an Ethernet port. The left side, meanwhile, features headphone and mic jacks, a third USB 3.0 port, a VGA port, and a full-size HDMI output. The latter is a nice touch, as it eliminates the need to mess around with dongles and adapters when connecting the laptop to a larger display. Even better, the P845-S4200 features Intel’s Wireless Display, letting users who outfit their televisions with an aftermarket adapter along the lines of the Netgear Push2TV, ditch their HDMI cable altogether, and beam their content wirelessly.
The P845-S4200′s 750GB 5,400rpm hard drive comes with a healthy serving of preloaded software. As is often the case, these programs vary in utility from useful (Microsoft Office Starter 2010) to pure bloatware (Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Live Essentials) with some trialware (thirty days of Norton Internet Security) sprinkled in between. There’s also an unusually large amount of proprietary software too numerous to list that includes Toshiba App Place, Toshiba Bulletin Board, Toshiba Disc Creator, Toshiba Video Player, and so on. If you like prefer to start using your system with a clean, unsullied slate, be warned: the sheer avalanche of proprietary software means that it will take a good amount of time to remove all of this software from your system. It comes bundled with Windows 7 Home Premium, so users looking for the newer Windows 8 operating system will need to spring extra for an upgrade. Toshiba covers the P845-S4200 is covered by a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Armed with a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor and 6GB RAM, the P845-S4200 performed relatively well when stacked against its peers. While it was unable to complete our PCMark 7 benchmark test, its performance on our 3DMark 06 tests (5,848 points in standard resolution, 3,220 in native resolution) gave us some idea of its processing ability. Accordingly, the Satellite P845-S4200 outperformed the rest of its class, edging past both the Acer V5-571-6869 (5,772 points and 3,168 points, respectively) and the Dell Inspiron 13z (5,721 points and 3,164 points, respectively) and only falling short of the Dell Inspiron 15r-5520 (6,308 points and 5,229 points, respectively), which doesn’t come as a surprise given the latter’s faster 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210 CPU.
The P845-S4200 displayed similar finesse in multimedia-related tasks. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in 1 minute 57 seconds, finishing quicker than the Inspiron 13z (1:59) and, by a much larger extent, the AMD A6-4455M-equipped HP Envy 6z-1000 Sleekbook (4:05) while once again coming short of the Dell 15r-5520 (1:41). Similar results were seen with the Satellite P845-S4200′s Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.41 points, which fell short of the Inspiron 15r-5520 (2.85 points) while surpassing the rest, like the Acer V5-571-6869 (2.37 points) and the Dell Inspiron 13z (2.39 points). However, the P845-S4200 faltered slightly on our Photoshop CS5 test (4 minutes 37 seconds), finishing a few seconds behind both the Inspiron 13z (4:35) and the (Acer V5-571-6869 (4:34) but coming nowhere near the Dell 15r-5520 (3:53). All said, the P845-S4200 has the chops to deftly handle media consumption with moderate media creation to boot.
Like the rest of its class, save for the AMD Radeon 7500G-equipped HP Envy 6z-1000, the P845-S4200 sports an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, so cracking the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier in visually demanding games isn’t to be expected. This was the case with its performance in our Crysis benchmark test (21fps in medium-quality settings at 1,024-by-768 resolution), which was roughly on par with the Dell Inspiron 13z (20fps) and the Dell 15r-5520 (24fps). The same applies with the P845-S4200′s performance in our Lost Planet 2 benchmark test (21fps in medium-quality settings at 1,024-by-768 resolution, 7fps in high-quality settings at native resolution), as it closely aligned with what we saw in the case of the Acer V5-571-6869 (21fps and 10fps, respectively) and the HP Envy 6z-1000 (21fps and 12fps, respectively).
The P845-S4200′s removable 48Whr battery lasted an impressive 7 hours 24 minutes on our MobileMark 2007 battery rundown test, putting it ahead of its class. By contrast, the Acer V5-571-6869 (4:51) and the HP Envy 6z-1000 (5:35) failed to reach the six-hour mark. It’s safe to say that the P845-S4200 will get you through most, if not all, of your day regardless of whether a power outlet happens to be nearby.
All said, the Toshiba Satellite P845-S4200 is a solid choice for users looking to save a buck without having to settle for a bare-bones system. That said, the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 offers similar performance for a significantly lower price, and for that reason it continues to reign as our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops. Still, the Satellite P854-S4200 remains a good choice, and its handsomely designed chassis, solid battery life, and low price all go a long way toward disproving the notion that systems in this price range must necessarily compromise performance or design.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Toshiba Satellite P845-S4200
Compare the Toshiba Satellite P845-S4200 with several other laptops side by side.
More laptop reviews:
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Type||General Purpose, Value|
|Processor Speed||1.7 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||14 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||750 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc