For some reason, my porch, as of late, has been bereft of packages containing products so epic that they require a review. Although reviewed, the Ed Hardy beer was anything but epic, but that is beyond the point. Anyway, since no one is sending me crap to review, I thought I would take this time to spin a yarn about a semi-recent purchase of mine.....

Earlier this year, I was in need of a new computer for work. Since I would be using the computer both in the office and at home, I decided to get a laptop. All I needed was something with a decent processor, a bunch of RAM, cheap, and was Linux friendly. Well, three out of four isn't that bad.

Unfortunately, I missed the one day of the week that the local computer recycler was open so I had to buy a new machine. After driving far too many miles to a home electronics store, I purchased a Toshiba Satellite L455-S5000 on sale for about $160 below the suggested retail price.

What I like about the laptop:

  • Cheap: the thing was just under $400 after taxes
  • Decent enough processor: the 64 bit 2.0 GHz Celeron is adequate for my needs
  • RAM: while others may scoff at 3GB, my old laptop had 256MB so this is a big improvement
  • The Screen: a widescreen 15.6 inch display gives me plenty of viewable space
  • Weight: this thing is surprisingly light for it's size

What is adequate about the laptop:

  • installing Linux was simple: through no fault of Toshiba's the machines internals work well with Linux ( with a few exceptions I'll discuss later )
  • The six cell battery has about 2 hours of life while sitting idle: actually, that's crap battery life.

The computer seems to be a glorified protable DVD player with web browsing capabilities. That's about the end of the nice things that I will say about the Toshiba.

Here is the laptop displayed with a standard sized CD and a US size 9.5 shoe. Look at the wear on that stinky shoe. Now look at the wear on the laptops trackpad and button. That is a year and a half on the shoe, and 3 months on the laptop. That stinks! The reason this laptop was so inexpensive is that, in my opinion, it is a cheap plastic machine.

What I don't like about the laptop:

  • The casing and the trackpad have the same texture: by feel I can't tell the difference between the two without looking where my fingers are.
  • The keyboard feels soft while typing: I would much prefer a more tactile response in a keyboard
  • the lousy Phoenix bios is not Linux friendly and most of the Fn keys don't work

What I really don't like about this laptop has more to do with Toshiba than the actual hardware. For various reasons, I use Linux as my preferred operating system and while it is quite easy to purchase a Microsoft-free desktop system, it is nearly impossible to purchase a Microsoft-free laptop, and Toshiba laptops are no exception to this rule.

Here is the highlighted portion of the big sticker that was on the wrapping that the computer was packed with. The wording is clearly in regard to Toshiba's refusal to refund the Microsoft Tax. In light of this business model as well as flaws in the machine itself, I can not recommend this product to anyone unless they are in the market for a cheap plastic laptop that will run Windows.

Bonus?: Since Toshiba adheres to this policy and Toshiba also insists on advertising "Windows. Life without Walls. Toshiba recommends Windows 7." on all of their product pages, I can only assume that Google (with their No Windows policy) will no longer be considering Toshiba products when it comes time to purchase new hardware. To which I say a resounding "That's Awesome! But what are you selecting instead?"

The review in a nutshell: decent enough hardware (mostly), but complete crap when letting the customer decide which operating system to install.

Now quit reading, and find out what kind of non-apple laptops are Google approved ( and then send me one to review. Ha!)

I've worked with Toshiba laptops myself (w/Linux). I had bad experience, too. The thing is poorly made, buggy, and when we first tried to install Linux on it, it was next to impossible (support has become better, now). Gateways aren't as bad in terms of Linux support, but everything else seems equivalent.

I'm typing this on an Asus laptop (not an EeePC, though I've done well w/them, too). Asus makes good computers.
my HP machine (g60-101ca) does very well with linux (running mint 8 right now). amd athlon x2 @ 1.9/core. came with 3gb ram and 250gb hdd. everything (well, except the Nvidia GPU) supported out of the box. i did have trouble a little early on with my wireless, but it was easy to fix. all my fn buttons work properly (touchpad disable button doesn't though).
2010-06-07 jezra:
The problem I have is that $50 dollars of my purchase goes to Microsoft for a license to use their software; license that I don't use and that Microsoft states should be refunded by the Manufacturer. In this case Toshiba. And while Asus and HP laptops may be good machines, it seems that all of their machines ship with Windows.

For all future purchases of new products, I will be calling the manufacturer *before* I make a decision, and I will ask if they sell a machine without Microsoft that is less expensive than than the same machine with Microsoft on it.
2010-06-25 KC:
I have a problem. I have a two year old Toshiba Satellite that gets so hot on the left side that it is very uncomfortable to use. The laptop has been treated very carefully and rarely leaves my desk. Since it has been treated so carefully, the problem must be caused by a design or manufacturing problem. Toshiba will not do anything to resolve this problem. Any suggestions?
2010-06-25 jezra:
KC, I feel your pain. "Laptop" is quite the misnomer. For the most part, my laptop is used as a portable desktop, and it too gets quite hot during normal usage.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that Toshiba can do to solve your heat issue, and the only thing I can suggest is to try to find some sort of application to *throttle* your CPU, an "underclocker" so to speak.
Old Toshibas were great, though. Some *very* fine machines at around 1 GHz and 512 MB RAM worked really, really well. Unfortunately, even then the batteries were crap, but it installed perfectly.
2010-07-03 Jon Kulp:
I love my Toshiba, although the audio input jack and the mic don't work right. They don't work in Windows either, though, so it's not a linux problem. For the hot left side, give it some ventilation. My lapper lives on a pair of shelves positioned about 4 inches apart. Front of lapper on front shelf, back on the rear shelf, leaving a good part of the bottom exposed to air. This helps it keep cool.
2011-06-27 sixthwheel:
I must have the only Toshiba laptop in the world, that can install Linux without a hitch.
Bought mine in 2004 for 1200 bucks. It has mostly lived in an 18 wheeler bouncing ,shaking and vibrating. Going from freezing to boiling heat overnight.
Has fell off the seat, and has been sat on a few times.
Toughest laptop I ever owned.
Solid built and everything.
What am I saying? You get what you pay for.
2011-06-27 jezra:
After a year, the battery stills holds a full charge, so toshiba must have done something right
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