Weight and screen: 7.9 pounds (9.3 pounds with power adapter), 15.4-inch widescreen LCD (1,280 by 800 pixels).
Processor and memory: 2.8 GHz Intel Mobile Pentium 4 HT processor, 512 MB memory, ATI Radeon 9000 IGP graphics (64 MB memory shared).
Storage: 55.8 GB hard drive, 24x/4x/24x CD-RW/8x DVD-ROM combo drive.
Communications: 100-Mbps Ethernet, 802.11g WiFi, v.92 modem.
Expansion: One PC Card slot, three USB 2.0 ports, one parallel port, one VGA monitor port, one S-Video jack.
Support: One-year warranty. One year of 24-hour, toll-free phone support; $35 per issue afterward.
This Toshiba Satellite is a physically imposing slab of a machine, which is not a good thing in a laptop. At 7.9 pounds, plus a whopping 1.4-pound power brick, it simply weighs too much for anything that you may be toting down K Street in August. Only road warriors looking to improve their physiques should consider this behemoth as a daily traveler.
The A75's battery life was fine -- almost two hours of movie watching and just shy of four hours at its maximum power-saving settings. But what's the point? The A75's bulk and weight will keep this laptop anchored to a desk, and therefore to a power outlet, most of the time.
If you keep it away from your shoulder, though, the A75 proves to be serviceable for mainstream use (the underpowered graphics circuitry makes it useless for most action games). Its 15.4-inch wide-format screen is outstanding, with a wide viewing angle that makes it useful for both collaborative work and DVD screenings. A row of multimedia controls is easily accessible up front, and one of the three USB 2.0 ports sits on the side (the other two are parked at the back). Perhaps due to its large case size, the A75 kept very quiet overall and rarely got warm.
A Notebook Maximizer program lets you adjust everything from power settings to Internet connections far more smoothly than Windows XP's array of separate control panels. (This Toshiba utility can even slow down the laptop's CD/DVD drive to hush its whining, whirring noise.)
The rest of Toshiba's software bundle, however, is just this side of bizarre. The A75 features Microsoft's OneNote, an ambitious personal information manager and note-taking application, but its included word processing and spreadsheet options are limited to Microsoft's moribund Works suite. Quicken 2004 handles personal-finance chores, while the multimedia toolkit consists of trial versions of programs from ArcSoft and Napster, plus QuickTime Player and RealPlayer 8, which is now three versions out of date.
Toshiba's technical support, less than a two-minute hold away on each call, provided accurate answers and patient walk-throughs of such involved procedures as using the included system-recovery CD to restore the machine to factory condition.
If confined to a desktop, the A75 can be a capable machine. But even in that role, it's outclassed by lighter, better-designed competitors, such as the HP Pavilion reviewed here.
-- Michael Tedeschi