Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5537 Laptop Review
For under $400, the Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5537 is the ultimate budget computer.
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The was the cheapest thing we could find and we got what we paid for.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Ports & Sockets
When traveling you'll want to take the charger with you. Combined, these two devices weigh in at 5.6 pounds, fairly heavy, but still manageable.
We used PC Mark to see how the would fare under a typical workload of everything from web browsing to image manipulation. After two trials, the Satellite achieved a score of 825. In the grand scheme of things, that a very low score. The nearest scoring PC laptop we tested was Lenovo's X220 Thinkpad which got a 2,376. That's 4.2 times better. However, the X220 Thinkpad was originally priced at $1,500 which is more than 4.2 times the Satellite's $350 dollar price tag.
It's impossible to test the berth of applications that a "typical" user runs, so we tried to hit on some big ones. We ran Photoshop, Handbrake, and Excel on the and timed how long it took to finish standard tests. On Photoshop, we took an image and applied a set of filters to it. The Satellite went through all the filters in 54.82 seconds. The next slowest on our list was the Samsung Series 5 Ultra which went through all the filters in 23.8 seconds. That means that the Series 5 could run through the test twice before the Satellite could apply the last filter. For the Handbrake test, we took a five minute long high-definition and converted it to standard definition. Averaging three trials, the had an 18 minute 15 second finishing time. If we race between the Toshiba Satellite and the first laptop we've tested, the Macbook Pro with Retina Display, the Toshiba would be lapped 17 times before it crossed the finishing line. Of course that's an unfair comparison, but it does help put things in perspective. Finally, for those business-worky types we had the Satellite slog through a complex Excel spreadsheet. In order to get through five thousand lines of calculations, the required 33.54 seconds. Again, that's puts the Satellite on the bottom of the ladder, but what do you expect for $350?
Since gaming is becoming more mainstream, we wanted to see how the ran some modern titles. Playing Portal 2 on the Satellite wasn't the greatest of experiences. On the lowest settings, this laptop managed to churn out 40.38 frames a second. That's not too bad. It's enough that the picture ran smoothly and didn't jerk about. However, when we dialed up the graphics, the Satellite started to choke. On the highest settings, the frame rate dropped to 19.66. We might as well been looking at a slideshow.
Overall Battery Life
The was quite the marathon man, lasting over four hours with a screen brightness of 160 cd/m and set on a balanced power mode. Lasting over five hours went set to its darkest screen setting, the Satellite could last you an entire plane ride.
Maximum Battery Life
To see how long we could stretch out the 's battery life we turned down the screen to it's lowest setting of 23 cd/m. At those settings the Satellite lasted 5 hours 9 minutes.
Balanced Battery Life
With the 's brightness set to 160 cd/m2 and the power plan on balanced, it lasted 4 hours and 18 minutes. That places the Satellite in the top tier in terms of battery life. This isn't surprising since this laptop doesn't have any components that soaks up a lot of energy.
High Performance Battery Life
When we dialed the screen up to the maximum and set the to high performance mode the battery lasted three hours four minutes. That places it in the top five of the laptops we've tested however, the screen is one the darkest we've tested too. The max white luminance was 278 cd/m which is rather dark.
The screen of the measured 15.6inches which carried a 1366x768 back lit display.
The Satellite boasts a spacious keyboard, even the arrow keys don't feel scaled down.
This keyboard has a numberpad which seems like a dying breed.
Mouse / Touchpad Features
A 1.5X3.25inch touchpad is one of the smallest we've ever seen.
Volume and Zoom controls were tied to 1-4 keys rather than the F keys which we found a little odd, but ultimately sensible.
Processor, Memory & Storage
The model we tested contained a 320 GB hard drive (not a SSD). It ran on a 1GHz AMD C-Series Processor C-60 with 2 GB of RAM that has the option to be increased to 8 GB. For graphics, the totes around a ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 6290.
The has the following ports: a headphone jack, a microhpone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet jack, and an RGB port. The Satellite also has an optical disk drive. It should be noted that both USB ports are on the left side of the Satellite which made it a little awkward at times.
The biggest problem with the screen was that it didn't achieve the brightness we would have liked. Colors had a muted tone to them. Though the screen is capable of 720p resolution, we felt that the internals just weren't up to handling high definition content. When changing the viewing angle, the 's display had standard distortion, but the glare was very high. In fact, because the screen was so dark it was prone to showing reflections rather than what should have been on the screen.
The keys on the were widely spaced, but lacked any depth. Missed keystrokes weren’t too common since the keys are so large. However, the gaps between the keys allowed for dirt to get through, so don’t eat near the Satellite, especially not peanut butter crackers. We appreciated the number pad, a feature that seems to be rapidly disappearing amongst the ever-slimmer laptops. We also liked the full sized arrow keys. It brought in us a sense of the days of old. That is a subsequent problem with the Satellite’s keyboard. It feels like it’s from a bygone era. But don’t get us wrong; we have some fond memories of 1992.
Mouse / Touchpad
The touch pad is one of the smallest we've ever seen. Measuring only 1.5inches by 3.25inches it's more of a touch strip. The touch pad is manufactured by ELAN which thus far hasn't complete failed us, but it's only a matter of time. The Satellite's touch pad was responsive most of the time though if we were running a very resource intensive program we had trouble getting to it move. We did appreciate that right and left click had their own buttons, so we turned tap-to-click off to lessen unwanted clicking. We also found that the touch pad's small stature allowed it to avoid any false touches from our palms. Overall, the wasn't annoying to use.
Heat & Noise
The remained very cool during our tests. The hottest we ever caught it at was a mild 82.9 degrees when we were playing Portal 2. That significantly more comfortable than, let's say, the Macbook Pro with Retina Display which reached temperatures north of 120 degrees.
The Dell XPS 13 is one the best laptops we've tested. It's a thin ultra portable that sacrifices nothing on power. However, it costs almost three times as much as the . The Satellite does have an edge in the number of features. It has an optical disk drive and an Ethernet jack which the XPS 13 lacks. Having doesn't translate to better, the Dell XPS 13's PC Mark score of 3876 is 4.7 times greater than the Satellite's.
In the end, the and the Dell XPS 13 cater to different audiences. The Satellite is either for people learning to use a computer or on a very tight budget. Only a select group of users would use all of the the XPS 13's portability and power to its fullest potential. People using the Satellite might graduate to using the XPS 13.
The Samsung Series 5 Ultra and the have plenty of similarities. Both have an optical disk drive, both are in the same weight class. They differ wildly in performance. In all our tests, the Series 5 and the Satellite both appeared near each other in the rankings, but when we look at the data it becomes apparent that one is better than the other. In the time that the Satellite took to finish our Photoshop test, the Series 5 could have finished it twice with time to spare. That kind of disparity was indicative of how much of an edge in processing power that the Series 5 had over the Satellite.
It's easy to look at the numbers and declare the Series 5 the superior machine. In context however, the is the budget form of the the Series 5. This is one of the cheapest laptop around it shows.
The HP Folio 13 is 25 ounces lighter than the , but over four times as powerful in all categories. However, it's more compact size made it feel cramped compared to the spacious Satellite. Given that fact that the Satellite only cost us $350 it's hard argue its value. It web browsed and word processed with the best of them. If you do anything more than that like photo editing or spreadsheets than than the Folio 13 is the way to go. The cheap nature of the Satellite is its greatest redeeming feature, but also its greatest weakness.
When it comes to features, the had a weak line up. An AMD C Series C-60 processor inhabits this laptop run with 2 GB of RAM and 320 GB of hard drive disk storage. An Ethernet port and an optical disk drive set the Satellite apart for other modern laptops which are moving away from such features. However, they did add to the Toshiba's weight, with charger, the whole package comes in at 90.3 ounces making it the heaviest laptop we've tested thus far. On the opposite end of the spectrum the will lighten your wallet the least. The MSRP for the model we tested was $399, but we managed to snag ours for $350.
The price point for this product is one of its strongest positives. Dividing its PC Mark score of 825 by its price of $350 gets us 2.36 points per dollar spent. That's a higher ratio than the Macbook Pro with Retina Display which got a 4816 and costs $2199. Based on its costs, the Satellite appears very cost-effective. Using the Satellite was a breeze. The large keys made typing easy. It even has a number pad which is increasingly rare amongst the trend of ultra portable design ethics. That being said, the had some major flaws.
Anything that wasn't web browsing or word processing became a Herculean task for the Toshiba Satellite. In all our performance tests, the Satellite came in dead last by leagues. One of the biggest gaps between the Satellite and the next in the rankings was during the PC Mark test. The Satellite scored an 825 which is 4.2 times less than the Samsung Series 5 Ultra's score of 2663. In every test, the achieved scores that were at least half those of other laptops. Last but not least, the exterior design of the Satellite left a lot to be desired. The textured casing looks like the cross between an acne scared teenager and a faux crocodile skin suitcase from the seventies. Some of us here at Laptopinfo have expressed liking the Satellite's design ethic, but those people are wrong.
Given that the placed last in every performance category we can't outright recommend it. However, it does have features that fit certain needs. It's large keyboard with a number pad makes it an easy computer to learn to type on. Everything is clearly labeled and all function keys are accompanied by an on-screen description that elaborate on their function. The low processing power allowed it to stay cool to the touch, we never broke a sweat while working with this laptop. We also really liked that the is part of the Epeat program which allows for users to participate in a free electronics recycling program. With that in mind, we think that this laptop would be perfect for someone looking to start learning how to use a computer. It's cheap and features like an optical disk drive which mirror a desktop. When you're done with it you can mail it back to Toshiba who will then recycle it, allowing you to purchase a new laptop on which to use your newly honed skills.