With the Satellite S35DVD, Toshiba has aimed at the middle ground between the true sub-notebook and a full-sized machine too large and heavy to actually carry around on a regular basis. The Satellite weighs about 2kg – at least a kilo less than a standard notebook – and it offers a reduced, though not miniscule, 275 x 250mm footprint intended to make it easier to transport.
The case and lid surface are made from plastic, which is slightly disappointing given the significantly greater durability of magnesium alloy, but the actual quality of fit and finish is up to Toshiba’s usual standards.
As you’d expect with a relatively small machine like this, there’s only room for one drive in addition to the 10GB Fujitsu hard disk. Toshiba takes the usual approach to the problem and provides a module bay which can be used either for the 8-speed Toshiba DVD-ROM or the floppy drive. We were a little disappointed to find that the bay did not support hot-swapping between modules, and also noticed that you don’t get a cable for running the floppy drive externally; both features that we’d have expected on a Toshiba.
The Satellite has a full complement of ports, including parallel, PS/2, USB, VGA and even IEEE1394 for fast transfer of fat video clips or big image files; only a conventional (these days ‘legacy’) serial port is absent. You also get the standard stacked pair of Type II PC Cards and both 10/100 networking and V.90 comms are included as part of the basic package, on an upgradeable MiniPCI combo card.
The keyboard is sensibly organised and large enough to be usable without endless frustration, but the 12.1-inch XGA TFT screen turned out to be somewhat on the dull side, which will be a disadvantage in bright ambient light.
Battery life was good by the standards of smaller portables, with running times stretching above three hours, but the choice of processor will tend to restrict this model to relatively undemanding tasks, although this is the usual way with small portables anyway. To help the 500MHz Mobile Celeron do a decent job, Toshiba supplies 128MB of SDRAM as standard, so while the Satellite lacks brute power, it still handles standard business apps tolerably smoothly.
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