Toshiba Satellite X200 - thoughts on another PC

I always like to keep an open mind when it comes to my computing. A few years back, anything outside the Apple platform would not even be allowed in my house or office. I have been tempted on many occasions to take advantage of one of the free laptop offers that are available with mobile broadband contracts. Well, since the Geekanoids website has become so popular, I felt I owed it to my readers to let them know if the grass is greener on the Mac side or not. I didn't go and get one of the freebie offers, instead the guys (and gals) at Toshiba kindly loaned me a Satellite X200 laptop... not for a full on review, rather for a play with for a month and just let your readers know what you think of it, well here goes.

First of all, it is important that I let you know my general thoughts about Vista. It has improved a lot since the release of Service Pack 1. A lot of the previous problems have been fixed and it also seems to run a little smoother. That said, it is still so convoluted to use. So many clicks and confirmations to perform even the simplest task. Add to that the constant updates and start up time long enough to eat a three course meal (OK, probably only a cup of tea) and you can see where my Vista frustration comes from. Now I have vented my thoughts on the OS, I can concentrate on the X200.

When I first opened it, I was very impressed by the screen real estate. A resolution of 1440x900 on the 17-inch display may not sound like much, but it felt like the right combination. You also get a 2.4GHz Core2Duo processor, 4GB RAM (only 3GB accessible), a beefy 256MB NVidia 8700M GT graphics card, 250GB of hard drive space and a nice 1.3MP webcam above the gorgeous screen. The optical drive reads and writes CDs and DVDs and also plays HD-DVD's which is a nice touch. The trackpad also impressed me with its smooth tracking, though the multi-touch areas for scrolling and shortcuts was a bit annoying at times. Sometimes it behaved itself, other times it was a pig to get working.

The X200 is big though. You would not want to carry this overgrown laptop around. It is destined to be used in a home or office and not venture outside. It is even too big to use on your lap, so needs to be situated on a desk really. At the base there are large vented heatsinks and they throw out a lot of heat. The fans seem to be on all the time, so that warm air is pretty annoying. The screen, although impressive, is glossy and in comparison to the new MacBook and MacBook Pro range, it uses a different finish. I found it a lot more difficult to get the right angle to avoid reflections. Battery life was useless too, just over two hours and the unit started chirping at me. Performance was good though, the 2.4GHz processor and graphics card compbination delivered enough power to eat through my Photoshopping and satisfied on the gaming front too. I guess that with that power you should expect the heat issues.

So, I was impressed. The X200 is a nice bit of kit and for someone who is a Windows Vista user, this could be a good desktop replacement choice. It has a nice powerful processor and would serve you well as a work or multimedia machine. For me, I will stick with my MacBook Pro. Better power, nicer styling, not bulky and runs very cool without any annoying fan blurting out warm air all the time.