The Satellite L comes standard with an Intel Core i3 processor that can be upgraded to Core i5. Neither of these processors will provide enterprise-class performance, but both versions are more than capable of delivering enough power to help write term papers.
Because the laptop is slated to run Windows 8.1 and later Windows 10, it will feature a nifty Cortana Quick Key that lets you summon the personal assistant application without requiring it to be in active listening mode. So don't worry about Microsoft and Toshiba listening to and recording your conversations the way Samsung Smart TVs do – you'll actually need to beckon Cortana for her to start getting nosy.
Toshiba says the Satellite is capable of running for a little longer than seven hours, which is decent for a budget notebook. However, the MacBook Air runs for more than 12 hours, and the Acer Chromebook lasts more than a full school day at 8 hours and 48 minutes, according to our internal testing.
CD lovers will enjoy the Satellite's optical drive, which you won't find on many new devices these days. Personally, I'd rather cut out the added heft of a drive, but I can see it being useful in the few rare instances when content isn't available for streaming or download.
If you need ports, the Satellite doesn't disappoint. It features two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI output, an SD card slot and an Ethernet input.
There are dozens of laptops that are suitable for students. They come in many different form factors, heights, weights, prices and styles. Unfortunately, until we test the internal power of the Satellite L, it's hard for me to pan it outright.
However, given its weight, standard Core i3 processor, HD-only screen and unresponsive keyboard, I can't recommend this device as is. With upgrades to the full HD, Core i5 model with 1TB of storage, this laptop begins to approach the middle of the pack of best student laptops. But at that point, this laptop will likely cost too much to maintain its status as affordable.