The Toshiba Satellite A200 (PSAE3A-07M007) is a solid entry-level workhorse that offers excellent usability for the low price of $1099. The price drops to $999 after a $100 cash-back offer from Toshiba. Although it doesn't have as many features as the Dell Inspiron 1525 or the Acer Extensa 5620Z-3A1G12Mi, the A200 is cheaper than the Dell and provides a larger hard drive than the Acer.
That isn't to say that Toshiba's features should be laughed at. An ExpressCard/54 slot sits on the left-hand side of the device, directly above a FireWire port. Add this to four USB 2.0 ports and a 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MS, MSPro, MMS, xD) and you have a well-connected unit, considering the price point.
The 160GB hard drive, which spins at 5400rpm, is a welcome addition that provides plenty of space for an entry-level unit. Running the system is a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T2390 processor and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. While it is somewhat slow, the notebook's speed is in line with its budget nature.
The A200 reinforced this by returning a score of 59 from our WorldBench 6 tests. Users who want to run basic applications shouldn't be discouraged by the low score, as it simply means that hardware-intensive tasks such as video encoding and 3-D rendering will be slow. Simpler tasks such as typing or surfing the web while listening to music will be easy to do.
Similarly slow are the integrated graphics that are provided by the Intel X3100 component of the motherboard's chipset, as shown by the 3DMark06 score of 321. In our iTunes benchmark, where we convert 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3 files to test the CPU's speed, the Toshiba took 1min 37sec to complete the task, which is in line with our expectations.
The Satellite's body will be a familiar sight to many users. An Onyx blue cover with a simple Toshiba logo printed in white opens up to a gunmetal grey keyboard. Two stereo speakers sit below and on either side of the 15.4in screen, which has a native resolution of 1280x800. Although the screen offers good colour contrast for viewing images and watching DVDs, it can suffer from a somewhat narrow vertical viewing angle.
Above the screen is a 1.3-megapixel camera that functions effectively at lower resolutions, and works well in conjunction with the built-in microphone to its right. Other audio options include microphone port and headphone ports.
This unit lacks the fastest network connectivity available, but it does provide 802.11g wireless and 10/100 Ethernet. For users who require it, a V.92 modem is also built into the right-hand side of the unit, next to the dual-layer DVD-RW drive.
In our worst-case scenario DVD rundown test, the A200 lasted 1hr 26min. The result isn't great, and is disappointing given the suitability of the unit for use on the move. Weighing in at 2.6kg on its own and 3.1kg when packed with the power supply, the A200 is well-suited to being lugged around.