Thin, lightweight, and quite attractive, the Toshiba Satellite T135D-S1324 ($599) is a notebook that provides plenty of computing power without draining your bank account. This stylish 3.8-pound machine boasts an AMD processor and ATI graphics, and it lasts over five hours on a charge. Plus, this version of the T135 is $100 less expensive than its Intel counterpart, even though you’ll sacrifice some battery life. We have some complaints about the touchpad buttons and heat, but overall this ultraportable offers some of the best performance we’ve seen at this price.
The T135D features a glossy coating that commands your attention, and the Fusion Finish in Nova Black offers a dark, rich visual design with a subtle checkered pattern that’s quite fetching. Available in black, red, and white, the T135D’s subtle, houndstooth-esque pattern spreads across the lid, extending onto the keyboard deck and palm rest. Even the touchpad bears this pattern (although it has a textured finish). Because of this design, fingerprints remain more or less hidden. Coupled with metal accents on and around the touch button, the machine looks a bit more expensive (and rightfully so) than your average netbook.
At 3.8 pounds, the T135D is about as light as you’d expect an ultraportable system to be. That is to say, it’s light and slim enough to hold in one hand. Even though the six-cell battery creates a slight bulge at the bottom, it was still easy to carry from room to room.
Although Toshiba was able to cram discrete graphics into the T135D, the thinness of the system contributes to poor heat dissipation. After playing a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the touchpad registered 101 degrees Fahrenheit, the space between the G and H keys reached 97 degrees, and the center of the underside was 105 degrees. The temperature by the exhaust vent rose to an unbearable 125 degrees. We consider anything over 95 degrees to be uncomfortable, and anything over 100 degrees to be unacceptable.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The T135D’s keyboard feels a bit cramped. Toshiba could have easily fixed this issue by extending the layout from edge to edge. Instead, the notebook leaves nearly an inch on either end of the deck. The keys themselves are flat and arranged close together, with the right Shift key slightly shrunken and the four arrow keys wedged into the lower right corner—almost an afterthought.
The 3.2 x 1.6 multitouch touchpad has plenty of width, but not as much height, so it’s easier to move horizontally then vertically. Unfortunately, the T135D doesn’t borrow the two large touch buttons we loved so much in the mini NB205, the company’s flagship netbook. Instead, this laptop has a single, narrow touch button. Although the metal design—similar to that on the Satellite U505—looks sleek, it can feel stiff if you accidentally press the center of the button, as opposed to the left and right edges.
Software and Support
The T135 comes with a host of Toshiba utilities, such as PC Health Monitor. It also contains a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007 and a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2010. Toshiba also includes Bulletin Board and ReelTime, two applications that it introduced with the touchscreen-enabled U505. ReelTime is kind of like the poor man’s time machine; it lets you scroll back to find previously opened documents and files. Bulletin Board allows you to place photos and notes on a blackboard in the middle of the screen. Also included is the Best Buy Software Installer, which is little more than a portal to purchase software online.
At $599, the AMD-powered Toshiba Satellite T135D-S1324 gives you a strong bump in graphics performance. However, the $699 Intel ULV-powered version of this notebook lasts over two hours more on a charge, so it comes down to what you value most. In the 13-inch notebook class we prefer the ASUS UL30A, which costs only $50 more than the T135D when purchased via Amazon yet offers nearly 10 hours of battery life and bettery ergonomics. If, however, you’re looking for robust graphics performance in a small, light, and inexpensive machine, the T135D-S1324 is a solid pick. While we’re not enamored with its touchpad buttons and keyboard, this is a stylish and affordable ultraportable that will let you do a bit of gaming, too.