Toybox: Wide but thin desktop replacement needs constant polishing

Toshiba's P200 looks impressive and has great performance, but is also very fingerprint-friendly

Toshiba’s Satellite P200 (previously the P100), designed to be a desktop replacement, is definitely sizeable.

But it’s not until you open it that you realise just how big it is. Oh that big screen bliss! The wide keyboard is great to type on and there is heaps of room for resting my wrists on it while I type. After spending a night feverishly writing stories on it, I can conclude it is a comfortable notebook to work on.

The hinge, which extends across the rear of the notebook, feels very solid and the screen sort of sits back from the keyboard, giving the whole lid a sturdy feel — with the possible disadvantage that there is no room for ports at the rear end.

The P200 measures 394 by 275 by 42 millimetres and weighs in at 3.3 kg, so it’s relatively portable, but you will run into trouble trying to fit it into a normal size laptop bag.

Performance of the P200 is excellent. I am not a gamer (the shame!) but I know some hardcore gamers, and they told me that the P200 should be a decent machine for most modern games, thanks to the nVidia GeForce Go 7300 graphics card, which is not the gruntiest graphics card there is but more than good enough for the average gamer.

Our review unit, running Vista Home Premium, is equipped with a Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, 2GB of memory and 320GB of storage. It also features a 1.3 megapixel webcam.

Being a desktop replacement, the P200 has a bunch of multimedia features, such as control buttons on top of the keyboard and two Harman/Kardon speakers, covered in clear plastic. While the speakers look cool, their performance is disappointing. At max volume both the base and the high pitched notes sound horrible.

The DVD SuperMulti drive lets users burn most mainstream disk formats, says Toshiba.

The notebook has four USB ports, an S-video out, VGA-out and ExpressCard slot. It has Bluetooth capabilities and integrated Intel 802.11 a/g+n. Battery life is up to three hours, according to Toshiba. I got around 2.5 hours out of it.

When you tap the right hand top corner of the dual mode trackpad it lights up and turns into a touchpad with shortcuts to email, photos or preferred programs. This feature possibly isn’t super-useful, but it’s pretty cool.

In conclusion, the Toshiba P200 looks impressive and has great performance. I would definitely consider replacing my desktop with one, if I had a desktop. (Maybe I can persuade my boss that I need a P200 to replace my work desktop…or maybe not.) A big minus, to me, is the fingerprint-friendly, shiny coating — if you care about things like that. I would be polishing it constantly and would worry about strangers touching it with their grubby fingers. The P200 will make a $2,999 or $3,999 (including GST) dent in your bank account, depending on if you choose the T7200 or T7400 model.

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