The Big Book
Notebooks come in all sizes these days, but when you need a large screen there’s often no substitute for a full-size system, like Toshiba’s Satellite L775D. In fact, having a system with a 17-inch screen is the perfect alternative to a desktop computer for those who teach small groups or take care of administrative duties.
At 10.6- by 16.2-inches, the Satellite L775D is a wide-body notebook through and through. Still, it’ll easily fit on most school desks with room for some books, paper and pencils. On the downside, its thickness varies from 1.4-inches in the front to 1.7-inches at the rear. A benefit of this is that the system naturally sits at a comfortable 4-degree typing angle.
There’s no mistaking it for a trim netbook or sleek tablet but the Satellite L775D is muscular and surprisingly light at 6.2 pounds. That’s only about half a pound heavier than the typical system with a 15.6-inch screen yet it provides one-third more screen-space to learn and teach with. Along with its AC adapter, the L775D has a travel weight of 6.8 pounds.
Its black and dark blue design is demure, not flashy and should fit into any classroom or school office. The color scheme works well with the system’s chrome accents on the touchpad buttons and speaker grilles, but the keyboard looks dark. This may turn out to be a problem when the lights go out for an assembly or projector-based lesson.
The S7206 model that I looked at is one of the best equipped notebooks in its price range, but rather than using Intel hardware, the system has an AMD Quad-Core A6-3400M processor. The chip has four processing cores, runs at a base speed of 1.4GHz and can raise its speed to 2.3GHz when needed. Toshiba also sells several models that have Intel processors.
Its other components are top shelf, as well. It comes with 6GB of 1.3GHz memory, a 640GB hard drive and a DVD drive that can play Blu-ray discs and burn labels into the surface if you use the special – and often expensive – LabelFlash media.
Along with its 17.3-inch display, the L755D has an AMD HD 6520G graphic accelerator with 512MB of its own video memory. Because it can grab up to 2.5GB of memory from the system’s RAM, the 6GB of system memory really comes in handy. This hardware combines for a resolution of 1,600 by 900 and generally excellent graphics and smooth video, regardless of whether it’s a Flash interactive element or a YouTube clip.
It has a reasonable assortment of ports, but lacks connections for high-speed USB 3.0 accessories. It does have three USB 2.0 connections, one of which is shared with an e-SATA port for linking the system with an external hard drive. In addition to audio jacks, the L775D has VGA and HDMI ports for driving a projector.
The system did well at driving a Mitsubishi WD380U-EST projector, but the L775D has a hidden secret. Its 17-inch display on its own is large enough to support a small group lesson or group student collaboration session.
The system can connect with a school LAN either through its 802.11b, g, n WiFi networking or its wired Ethernet port. It comes with Bluetooth 3.0 and an SD card slot.
Performance may not be its goal, but the L775D is no slouch either. It scored a respectable 911.6 on Passmark’s Performance 7.0 suite of tests that stress all its internal components. Its score is on a par with the latest Ultrabooks that cost a lot more. On the downside, when the work gets intense, the system’s case heats up fast. There is an annoying hotspot exactly where your left hand rests, which hit a peak temperature of 127 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the downside, the L775D’s 4,000 miliamp-hour battery pack ran for only 2 hours and 34 minutes. In other words, to get through the school day, you’ll need to have a second power-pack charged and ready, never stray too far from an AC outlet or get Toshiba’s high capacity battery pack. It should run for roughly twice as long, but adds half pound to the L775D’s weight and costs $150.
In addition to a 1-year warranty, Windows 7 Home Premium and Office Starter, the notebook comes with Norton Internet Security software along with 30-days of updates. All told, the $700 Satellite L775D is a good all-around system at a tough-to-beat price that won’t disappoint in the classroom.
+ Good price
+ Excellent configuration
+ Sophisticated design
+ Bluetooth 3.0
+ Blu-ray drive
- Annoying hot spot
- No USB 3.0 port