Operating in Europe for more than 30 years, Toshiba has gained wide recognition of late thanks to its high-end range of Qosmio multimedia laptops. Representing a powerful and more affordable entry-level alternative is the Toshiba Satellite M60.

Immediately noticeable is the copper-coloured screen panel, adding individuality to the chassis. Measuring 395 x 274 x 44mm, this is a laptop designed for desktop use. However, its 3.5kg weight and battery life of 180 minutes under test lend the M60 moderate mobility.

Unfortunately, usability is not aided by the size of the M60 chassis. Despite a wide 349mm keyboard with included number pad, many keys on the main board are small, cramped and unresponsive, making effective touch-typing a virtual impossibility.

Performance is more pleasing. Built around an Intel Pentium M 750 processor running at 1.86GHz and 1024MB of DDR2 memory, the Toshiba is well specified for most tasks. Its 100GB hard drive rotates at 5400rpm for fast access and allows for ample multimedia storage.

Scoring 234 points from MobileMark 2005 benchmark tests, the M60 delivers power for all home and office requirements.

Maintaining this level of ability is the 17-inch Super-TFT screen. Using a sharp WXGA resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, images are clear and colourful. Slight pixilation can be seen upon closer inspection, but for most uses the screen will provide excellent detail and clarity.

Multimedia magic

Multimedia performance is enhanced by the use of a dedicated graphics chip, in the form of an ATi Mobility Radeon X700. Although bettered by the X800 and recently released X1600, this is a highly-capable addition, and ideal for effective gaming and multimedia use. This was shown by a 3DMark 2003 score of 5272, only beaten by the 6200 points of the AJP.

For external storage needs, the M60 carries a tri-format DVD optical drive and 3-in-1 card reader. Supporting DVD /-RW, as well as DVD-RAM and dual-layer discs, compatibility is high, and Sonic RecordNow and InterVideo WinDVD Creator software are included for ease of use.

While wireless connectivity is strong, due to the inclusion of an Intel 802.11g Wi-Fi card, fixed networks can only be set up using 10/100 Base-T Ethernet. At this price point, we would expect Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, but for basic home use this will suffice.

Providing comprehensively strong performance, the Toshiba Satellite M60 is an effective entry-level multimedia laptop. For optimum productivity, the poor usability may be insufficient, but for a broad range of home requirements, the M60 makes a convincing choice.