Rating: ★★★★☆

Pros:

  • Great entertainment and multimedia features
  • Large display and keyboard but doesn’t feel bulky
  • Very good display and audio

Cons:

  • Off-center keyboard is awkward
  • Port location can be inconvenient

The Toshiba Satellite A665 is at the higher end of Toshiba’s wide-ranging Satellite line, which includes the NB-series netbooks, C-series student models, L-series mainstream machines, and T-series ultraportables. The A-series and more compact M-series offer full-featured entertainment machines designed for multimedia and some gaming.

The Satellite A665 features a 16-inch screen, Harman/Kardon speakers with Dolby Advanced Audio, and a choice of Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPUs. I reviewed the A665-S6092, which packs an Intel Core i7-740QM, 4 GB of DDR3 memory, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics.

The A665 offers Toshiba’s Sleep and Charge feature, which lets you charge a phone, MP3 player, or other device from the laptop’s USB port even while the computer is off. The machine also offers Sleep and Music, which lets you play your iPod, MP3 player, or phone through the A665 speakers (via the mic jack) without booting up.

The A665 is a big machine, but Toshiba did a good job of keeping it from becoming too bulky. Despite its 16-inch display, the laptop is not too thick, and it doesn’t feel that heavy (although it weighs in at over 6.5 lbs). The machine looks sharp, with rounded edges. Although the laptop feels plastic-y, it doesn’t feel cheap. The A665 features Toshiba’s Fusion X2 finish, with a nice grippy texture on the flat surfaces, and a smooth, glossy finish on the curves. Toshiba claims that Fusion X2 is “less prone to fingerprints,” but you can’t prove it by me. The test unit picked up more fingerprints than a CSI field technician.

Open up the A665 and you’ll notice that the 16-inch display fills the top shell. When the laptop is off, the screen looks like it will be too glossy. But when the computer is on the display is crisp and bright with minimal reflections. The display resolution is OK at 1366 by 768 pixels. In the bezel above the display, Toshiba has included a decent webcam as well (although I found the on-screen pop-out controls for the webcam to be annoying).

The keyboard on the A665 is a full-size, backlit, “island” style. This means that each key is separated from its neighbors by a small gap. The keys have a square profile, not slanted like most other keyboards. I found that this shape would occasionally snag my fingertips as I typed. I’m just an advanced hunt-and-peck typist, so perhaps real touch typists won’t have this issue.

Accountants and ASCII alt-code geeks will like the A665’s full-size number pad. This can be a desirable feature, but to make it fit Toshiba shifted the rest of the keyboard to the left. I found the off-centered keyboard very distracting and occasionally uncomfortable because I had to bend my wrists at an odd angle. It just felt off that the keyboard and my hands did not line up with the display.

There is a row of nice multimedia keys above the keyboard, and the entire keyboard is backlit. The touchpad has a backlit strip as well, which is useful in dim environments. I developed a love/hate relationship with the back lighting as it often seemed too harsh after a while.

The multi-touch touchpad works well and feels good. It has just the right amount of texture for a good feel, without dragging or feeling abrasive. There is only one set of touchpad buttons, however, located below the pad. The buttons are OK, but I’m a top-button kind of guy and I missed the second set of buttons often found on other laptops.

Sound quality was very good, especially for a laptop. Toshiba included its usual Harman/Kardon audio system, with Dolby Advanced Audio. There’s the usual built-in microphone plus a mic input and headphone output.

The placement of the A665’s ports is somewhat awkward. The USB ports are located near the front edge of the side panels. If you are actually using the laptop on your lap, whatever you put in the USB ports can get bumped or pressed. And if, like me, you want to use your favorite corded mouse the cord or the plug gets in the way pretty easily.

The power cord connector is also on side panel, instead of on the back. I found this awkward because it ends up making the laptop wider than it needs to be, and takes up space on your desktop. The power brick is pretty substantial, as needed to provide enough juice for that big screen and processor.

The included six-cell battery was good for about 2 hours of normal use. Toshiba does include its Eco Utility, with a dedicated Eco Button, that lets you view and monitor the power settings on your laptop. You can choose high-performance mode when you need it, power-saver mode for the least energy consumption, or balanced mode which is a blend of the other two modes.

Even with a few minor annoyances, the Toshiba Satellite A665 is an excellent entertainment laptop. If you are looking for a laptop with decent power and a good set of built-in multimedia features, you will find it in the A665’s slim and stylish package.

Performance

The following graphs shows the performance results for the Toshiba Satellite A665-S6092 as tested using Primate Labs Geekbench 2.1. The scores are comparable to other laptops in the same class, showing decent but not leading performance compared to HP or other models.

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core i7-740QM, 1.73 GHz (2.93 GHz with turbo boost), 6 MB L3 cache

Operating system: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Graphics engine: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, 1 GB GDDR3 discrete graphics memory

Memory: 4 GB DDR3 1066 MHz (max 8 GB) 2 main memory slots; both slots occupied

Hard drive: 640 GB (5400 rpm) Serial ATA hard disk drive with 3D hard drive impact sensor

Optical drive: DVD-SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) with Labelflash

Display: 16.0 inch diagonal 16:9 widescreen TruBrite TFT display, 1366 by 768 native resolution (HD), native support for 720p, LED backlit

Audio: Microphone input, headphone jack (stereo), built-in microphone, Harman/Kardon stereo speakers

Webcam: Webcam and microphone built into LCD bezel

Wireless LAN: Wi-Fi wireless networking (802.11b/g/n)

LAN: 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN

Bluetooth: No

Modem: No

AC adapter:
120 W (19 V x 6.32 A) auto-sensing, 100-240 V / 50-60 Hz input

Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion, 48 Wh

Expansion and ports: 1 ExpressCard slot, 1 memory card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, HDMI output port



Alan Brandon