With an Intel Core i3 330M processor, a generous 320GB hard disk and a 15.6in screen, the Toshiba Satellite L650 looks like any other budget laptop. In our light-usage battery tests however, it lasted for five-and¬-a-quarter hours, which is long enough for all but inter-continental journeys and, at 2.5kg it's not too heavy to lug around with you, either.
The L650 won't turn any heads with its plain design. The glossy black case has a subtle pattern weaving through it, and opening the lid reveals more black, with a minimalist approach: there are few shortcut buttons, and the indicator lights are tucked away along the front left edge of the case. Two narrow slits above the keyboard house the internal speakers, which are reasonably loud but typically tinny.
To the right of the keyboard is a numberpad, with large "+" and Enter keys and a row of page navigation keys above it. This cramps the keyboard itself, making the main Enter key quite narrow, but otherwise the layout is standard. The keys have flat tops but are sufficiently separated from each other, and have a shallow action that provides adequate feedback.
Below the keyboard is a touchpad which consists of a textured area on the wrist-rest and two large buttons set in a recess. The touchpad itself is smooth and responsive, although smaller than usual, and it includes unmarked vertical and horizontal scrolling areas along its bottom and right edges respectively. The buttons are overly stiff, so an external mouse would be more comfortable to use if you're sitting at a desk.
Without a dedicated graphics processor, the L650 relies on the Core i3's built-in graphics chip, which can decode HD content but struggles with all but the simplest of 3D games. The 15.6in display has a resolution of 1,366x768, which is fine for 720p content. There's a slight blue cast to the image which makes flesh tones seem a bit dull, but the backlight is even and reasonably bright and contrast is good. If you wanted to watch 1080p films in their full glory, you could hook up an HD TV via the HDMI port.
Performance from the Core i3 330M was in line with expectations: an overall result of 74 is similar to other Core i3 laptops here, and shows the L650 to be capable of handling most applications. With dual cores and Hyper-Threading (turning it into a virtual quad-core processor), it won't slow down when you're using more than one application either.
Despite some minor annoyances, the Satellite L650 is a decent budget laptop, and its excellent battery life sets it apart. If you want a laptop that you can use without being tethered to a mains socket, it's a far more powerful than a netbook.Author: Barry de la Rosa
Prev Next Satellite L650-12K scored:
8.5 out of 10
advertisementFind out all you need to know about choosing the right laptop. Read more