A well-made laptop which sits middle of the road on all fronts
It's a solid performer
But there's nothing special on show here
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The machines in this group are all aimed at the corporate user. Despite this, there's a diverse range of laptops - from ultraportable machines to laptops that will rarely move from your desk. Toshiba's Satellite Pro A120 (£729 ex. VAT) falls into the latter category. It's also the cheapest laptop on test by far.
Despite the price, day to day performance is impressive, thanks to an Intel Core Duo T2400 processor and 1024MB of memory. A 100GB hard drive offers ample storage space, and lets you save files quickly, thanks to a 5400rpm rotational speed. We found the Toshiba to be a useful office companion, with quick, lag-free responses, capable of running multiple applications without problems. This was borne out by a MobileMark 2005 score of 219 points.
With a 15.4-inch screen and 2.9kg weight, the A120 is only semi-portable. The display features a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels (WXGA), which isn't particularly sharp on a screen of this size. While the other 15.4-inch laptops in this group feature dedicated graphics cards, the Toshiba has Intel's 945GM integrated chipset. With a 3DMark 2003 score of 1485, it's perfectly suited to office applications.
Despite this, a battery life of 199 minutes, under test, doesn't offer any great advantage over machines with dedicated graphics cards.
The keyboard is of a good size, and the keys move with a firm, well-damped action. However, it's poorly positioned in the chassis, sitting to one side rather than in the centre.
This turns out to be annoying, as unless you sit with your hands towards one side, it's all too easy to clip the wrong keys. However, a stiff chassis and screen suggest that, despite being the cheapest machine, costs have evidently not been cut on the quality of the build.
Networking capabilities are as you'd expect for a business machine, with 802.11a/b/g Wi-fi and Gigabit Ethernet for wireless and fixed data transfers. You'll also find a dual-format DVD rewriter included for back-up.
This is all the A120 has to offer, however, with regard to features. It becomes apparent where corners have been cut to make the Toshiba so aggressively priced. There is no Bluetooth or mini Firewire, and the range of ports is limited to a VGA-out. We also expected more than three USB 2.0 ports on a machine of this size.
For the price, the Satellite Pro A120 is sturdy and performs competently. However, it's difficult to recommend the Toshiba over other machines we've seen. Philip Barker & Michael Browne
The Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 comes with a one-year collect and return warranty. However, until 1 December, Toshiba is offering a 'money back' deal on this model. Should it fail in the fi rst year after purchase, the laptop will be repaired or replaced free of charge and the full price of the laptop returned.
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