At first glance, Toshiba's Satellite L300-13R appears a superior machine to the Acer Aspire 5920 Gemstone, as its silver and black insides look much classier than the Acer's white keyboard and blue LED overload.
However, the Toshiba is lacking in other areas, proving that you shouldn't judge a notebook by its cover.
Heading the specification list is the 1.86GHz Intel Pentium dual-core T2390 CPU, which just has a 533MHz front side bus and 1MB of Level 2 cache memory. The result is that the Toshiba Satellite L300-13R is a fair bit slower than the Acer, as evidenced in the WorldBench 6 score of 71.
At exactly three hours, the Toshiba Satellite L300-13R's battery life isn't as good as the Acer's either, although this is still plenty for most people looking to do some work on the move.
On the plus side, the Toshiba Satellite L300-13R comes with all the essentials needed to run Windows Vista smoothly, including 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a decent-sized 250GB hard drive. Its three USB 2.0 ports are all positioned on the sides for easy access. (We do grumble when manufacturers hide them round the back.)
The Toshiba Satellite L300-13R also comes with a dual-layer DVD burner, an 802.11b/g WiFi card, a 56k modem and Ethernet port, although these features are to be expected for this price now. However, there are some notable omissions from the feature set, such as a TV-out or HDMI output, and there's no FireWire port or media card reader either.
To make matters worse, the Toshiba Satellite L300-13R doesn't have the sturdiest build quality. The lid dips unnervingly a bit when you press the back, and the bezel around the keyboard feels a bit plastic and flimsy too. The build quality isn't awful; it's just bettered by other laptops at this price. More pleasingly, the Toshiba's keys have a satisfying, deep key-press, and the screen is bright and onscreen colours vibrant.
We also liked the fact that the Toshiba Satellite L300-13R was relatively light: the positive result of that flimsy lid and dainty chassis is that it tips the scales at 2.5kg. It doesn't get too hot on your lap either, making it a pleasant machine to use on the move, or on the sofa.