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Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 review

£745 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Toshiba

Our Rating: We rate this 3 out of 5

The 13.3in Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 looks good, performs well, has plenty of built-in features and is comfortable to use for long periods of time. The U500 is a good machine for business users, but it has some issues.

The 13.3in Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 looks good, performs well, has plenty of built-in features and is comfortable to use for long periods of time. Unfortunately, it has relatively poor battery life and it ships with fingerprint reader software that needs to be upgraded if you want be able to run Firefox. These issues notwithstanding, the U500 is still a good laptop for business users, but it could be much better.

With a small, 13in frame, a DVD burner tucked in its side and a powerful Intel Core i5-430M CPU under the hood, the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 has all the hallmarks of a potentially great business laptop. However, it's let down a relatively poor standard battery life, its hefty weight and problematic fingerprint reader software.

Toshiba Satellite Pro U500: Design and features

These issues alone aren't enough to put us off the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 because it really is a nice laptop to use at home, in the office or while you travel. It's also not a boring-looking laptop: the palm rest and lid have a textured finish, there is a chrome trim around the speakers and there are plenty of lights.

The lights illuminate the shortcut buttons above the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500's keyboard, the touchpad and the Satellite Pro brand label on the palm rest, but they are very bright and can get annoying; thankfully they can be switched off. The keyboard itself isn't backlit — unlike the keyboard on the Satellite U500 — but its glossy keys are soft and very comfortable for long periods of typing. The touchpad is a little on the small side at 64x41mm, but it does support gestures and it is responsive. The shortcut buttons above the keyboard can be used to control media playback, volume, as well as invoke Toshiba's 'Eco' mode power management feature. Eco mode disables unnecessary features and tones down the screen's brightness in order to prolong battery life.

Connectivity and features are plentiful: the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 includes HDMI, eSATA, VGA, USB 2.0 (with Sleep-and-Charge capability), Gigabit Ethernet, an SD card slot, an ExpressCard/54 slot and a 56Kbps modem (in case you're unlucky enough to ever have to use dial-up again in your life). It also has a webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a fingerprint reader and a built-in DVD burner.

While it's definitely a well-stocked notebook, the downside is that the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 is also a little on the heavy side for its size. It weighs in at 2.2kg; this weight is definitely noticeable when the notebook is picked up with one hand. It also feels thick and bulky and, if it wasn't for the textured panels and bits of gloss, it would definitely feel like a good old office workhorse machine.

See also: Toshiba Satellite U500 review

Toshiba Satellite Pro U500: Specifications and performance

There is plenty of processing power under the hood of the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 for crunching spreadsheets and even for encoding videos. You get a 2.27GHz Intel Core i5-430M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive and an NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics adaptor. In our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the U500 recorded times of 59sec and 1min 7sec, respectively. The Blender time is what we expected for a notebook using the Core i5-430M (it's exactly the same time as the Acer Aspire 5741-434G50Mn, for example), but the iTunes time is a couple of seconds off the pace.

In our video encoding test, AutoGordianKnot took 1hr 10min to transcode a DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file, which is a swift time — the Dell Inspiron 15R N5010, which runs the same CPU, recorded the same time in this test. The only test in which the U500 was sluggish was our hard drive file transfer test, in which the drive recorded a transfer rate of 20.78 megabytes per second. We expected a rate of at least 25MBps.

In the graphics department, the NVIDIA GeForce 310M adaptor recorded a score of 3696 in 3DMark06, which is a decent result and it gives the Satellite Pro U500 a better ability to process business graphics and high resolution photos, and it also gives it the ability to run a few games (such as World of Warcraft, StartCraft 2 and car racing games in the Need For Speed franchise).

NEXT: battery tests, and fingerprint reader software >>

Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 Expert Verdict »
Toshiba Satellite Pro U500-1E5 Scores 7.9 out of 10 based on 49 reviews
Intel Core i5 430M/2.26GHz, Dual-Core
Enhanced SpeedStep technology, Intel Turbo Boost Technology
Mobile Intel HM55 Expres
L2 Cache, 3MB
4GB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB Serial ATA-150 5400rpm
DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM
5 in 1 card reader
SD Memory Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, xD-Picture Card
13.3in TFT 1280x800 (WXGA)
Intel HD Graphics Dynamic Video Memory Technology
High Definition Audio
Microphone
Integrated 1280x800 camera
Multi-touch touchpad
Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b/g/n (draft), Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
display/video, VGA-15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15), network, Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T, RJ-45, audio-SPDIF output, microphone, input, mini-phone 3.5mm headphones-output-mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 2 x Hi-Speed USB-4 PIN USB Type A storage/Hi-Speed USB-Hi-Speed USB/eSATA audio/video-HDMI-19 pin HDMI Type A
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition/XP Professional downgrade
317x230x38mm
2.2kg
  • Overall: We give this item 6 of 10 overall

It may be a tad heavy and have underwhelming standard battery life, but the Toshiba Satellite Pro U500 has plenty of features, performs well for the most part and it's comfortable to use. We'd like it if a more powerful battery was installed by default and we also hope that Toshiba updates the fingerprint software on all its shipping models. We also wish the fingerprint utility would also work with Firefox.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
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