Toshiba Satellite P105-S9722 Notebook Hands-On

Toshiba’s Satellite P105-S9722 Gaming Laptop (which from here on in shall be referred to as the P105 for the sake of my fingers) was recently unleashed upon the world and the response has been decent. This thing is a complete monster that can handle any task thrown at it. Whether you game, edit video, record music, or anything that demands a high-powered rig, the P105 can most likely get it done.

Before we even dive into specs, let me talk about the P105’s design. Glancing at the top of this notebook, you’ll see it has a special onyx blue metallic paint job. This really gives it a sleek look but also serves as a prominent display of fingerprints and gunk. Also, the lid doesn’t close as easily as I’d like it to. It usually takes a few pushes to lock down.

The P105 is feature rich. You have a full-sized keyboard, a trackpad with built-in function buttons, a fingerprint reader, two Harmon Kardon speakers, and a selection of media function keys at the top. While most of these features are nice additions, the keyboard is poorly designed. Allow me to elaborate further:

Toshiba designed the P105 with gamers in mind. Apparently what Toshiba forgot to mention, is that they think all gamers are left-handed. On the left side of the keyboard, all keys are at 1:1 scale. However, as we travel to the right-hand side, you’ll notice that the shift key on this side is the size of a standard key. Since I’m right-handed, whenever I go to type something and need to capitalize a letter, I have to pray that the key I just jammed my pinky onto was the shift key. Also, the arrow-keys are extra-small and are a total pain in my ass to use.

Not to mention Toshiba included a full-sized numpad on the right side of the keyboard. It would have been nice to see Toshiba scale the numpad down and increase the size of the shortened-shift key and arrow-keys as well. But that’s enough about the keyboard. Let’s get into the good stuff: the specs.

The Satellite P105 has a huge 17-inch widescreen XGA display with TruBrite technology. This screen is absolutely phenomenal. Movies look crisp, colors are rich, and games and fluid. You’ll seriously be hard pressed to find a better-looking screen on a notebook today. Inside, the P105 features a 2GHZ Intel Centrino Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB of PC5300 DDR2 RAM, a DVD burner that records in 11 formats, GeForce Go 7900 256MB graphics, multiple audio inputs, integrated wireless, VGA/S-Video/DVI out, 4 USB ports, Firewire, a 200GB SATA hard drive, 5-in-1 media card reader, and Windows XP Professional. All this is what makes the P105 cost $1999, weigh 7.1-pounds, and a powerhouse.

When I received the P105, it was brand-spankin’ new and I was excited to see what was in store for me. Unfortunately, my excitement began to dull upon booting into Windows XP. Toshiba pulled a Dell-esque move and loaded this great notebook up with tons of trial-software and offers. My desktop had three columns of icons all for trial-versions of spyware. This made me really unhappy because I had to go through and delete all this crap before I could start making it feel like my own. Even weeks later, every hour or so some stupid pop-up comes up letting me know my computer could be at risk and that I should purchase the full version of some terrible product. So Toshiba, in the future, try to cut back on the free software. I know you make some cash off including it on there, but none of this stuff is any good! At least include some trial-versions of newly released games since this is supposed to be a gaming laptop.

The one piece of software that works pretty well is the fingerprint reader. It really makes it easy to setup the P105’s fingerprint scanner so that you can use it to login to Windows and access documents. This is a great security feature that many business and power users will find useful. Having an extra form of security so no one peeks at your documents is welcome anytime.

As I turned on the wireless networking switch on the front of the notebook, I noticed a little connection guide pop up. Toshiba’s wireless connectivity software is decent, but isn’t really anything special. I opted to close it and went into Windows’ wireless settings. Here is where things go downhill. My connections to both my neighbor’s wireless network and my own wireless router always cut out like crazy. I tried resetting my router, using different settings, and several other workarounds. In the end, the wireless just seems to be wacky.

However, I’m not going entirely blame Toshiba for this one. My home has always had a bit of a problem with wireless networks and I did stop by Starbucks to test out the P105 on a T-Mobile Hotspot access point. Looks like all that caffeine floating around at Starbucks really did the trick. The P105 soared while I surfed the web, downloaded music, and played World of Warcraft. It seems that my own network could be at fault here, but the P105 doesn’t get off that easily. You can tell it has a problem using wireless networks at times and hopefully Toshiba will note this when shipping out future editions of this notebook.

But this is supposed to be a gaming laptop, right? It sure is. I play World of Warcraft constantly and never get to turn the full details up because I know my FPS-rate is going to plummet if I do so. Not on the P105. I went balls to the wall and cranked every setting to its highest and went to town. No lag, no issues, just full out, crystal-clear slaughter in the world of Azeroth. I was even able to “alt-tab” between WoW and iTunes without skipping a beat of my music – a problem that usually happens when switching between World of Warcraft in full screen mode and iTunes.

Multitasking is another thing this notebook is good at. I can be watching a video on YouTube while checking my e-mail in Outlook while leaving WoW open while typing up an article in Microsoft Word. I know, I know… I should get myself checked out for ADD and all, but why bother when I can do so many things at once with the P105? I was very pleased that I could do so much at the same time without having to compromise. Nice work Toshiba.

So one question still remains: Is it worth shelling out $1999 for this notebook and carrying around the not so subtle 7.1-pounds that comes with it? If you’re a gamer, the answer is yes. For games this thing is a beast and will play any title you throw at it. The 17-inch TruBrite display makes movies and games pop out and gives you plenty of real estate to work with and there are plenty of USB ports for peripherals.

However, if you don’t game as much as I do (I pretty much only play WoW) and are a student or just an average computer user, then you should avoid the Satellite P105-S9722 by all means. Its keyboard design, wireless problems, and bundled software are three things you’ll probably want to stay far away from. Plus the heavy weight and hefty price tag just don’t justify the buy for those who aren’t gamers or are on a budget. Instead, go with something lighter and cheaper like the Satellite U200-ST2091 from Toshiba. It starts at $899 and is much more portable than the P105.