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A novelty is the Toshiba face recognition feature. A cynic might say that this is just a cheap way to add biometric authentication to a notebook without the added cost of a fingerprint reader. After all, even the most basic notebooks have an integrated webcam these days. I was not able to get this working but there was an update on the Toshiba site and are many reports of people using this successfully.

Toshiba also includes a voice recognition and command utility and it works incredibly well. This is a very good accessibility feature. You launch programs, perform tasks and navigate the web. It does a good job of isolating out background noise, but watch out if you have a talkative 5 year old in the room because the results can be pretty funny (or scary if you are working on anything important).

A Norton 360 three-month trial is included. This is a pretty resource intensive antivirus solution – I prefer the Windows firewall, defender, malicious code updates and a freebee like Avira.Next up is the chipset, in this case Intel’s PM45 (Cantiga) north bridge and ICH9-M south bridge. First the PM45; In addition to supporting the faster Front Side Bus speeds it also bring support for DDR3 which is both faster and uses lower voltage. Although not relevant in this particular review, PM45 also adds AMD CrossfireX support. Perhaps Toshiba could change things up a bit in the future with a Crossfire offering – two mobile 4850 GPUs would be pretty amazing.

DRR3 memory is not easy to find in stores and comparatively expensive (although this will change rapidly). Toshiba equips the X305 with 4 GB of DDR3 operating at 1066 MHz – nearly double last year’s 667 MHz standard. This notebook should be able to handle a total of 8 GB when the 4 GB modules begin to ship. When comparing gaming notebooks be weary of models that skimp by using the older DDR2 RAM.

Call of Duty 4 uses the DX9 graphics API and doesn’t require the 9700m GTS’s DX10 support. It is still a demanding game and is a staple of LAN Parties. As you can see from the following chart, the game is fully playable at maximum settings and 4xAA. The only hiccup was when audio seemed to be loading – a second of two of stuttering. You can see how that affects performance below:
Gears of War uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, this is one of the more popular and more demanding game engines. It is used in many current games like Mass Effect, Bioshock, and Rainbow Six: Vegas. Upcoming titles include Borderlands, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Mirror’s Edge. The X305 aced Gears of War, running fully maxed out in DX 10 mode with anti-aliasing turned off. Results looked like this:
As you can see, the X305 delivers a very good gaming experience. To put this in perspective the detail levels, resolution and frame rate of these games easily eclipses what is possible on a console. These results are very good and place the X305 in the rank of the Gateway P-7811FX. If you are lucky enough to live in the USA, you can buy the SLI version of the X305 for $1,999.99 for significantly better performance (probably very close to double). The dual GPU X305 is a category leader in terms of power and bang for buck.

Audio performance is excellent. The speakers are worth every bit of the Harmon/Kardon and Dolby labelling on them. With four speakers and a sub woofer the Dolby software has a lot to work with and the results are great. Games sound much better on the X305 than on the Gateway 6831FX, but the 4.1 speaker arrangement only ‘expands’ the sound rather than delivering true positional effects.Battery for Dell | Power Supply for Laptop at

Audio is a very important part of playing online games as audible clues can help you find your opponent faster. In order to really isolate sounds, many players use high quality headphones. I was hoping that the 4.1 audio output of the X305 might eliminate the need for headphones. Sadly, the positional effect is probably not strong enough to play competitive first person shooters without headphones.

For home theatre purposes the X305’s HDMI output of audio is excellent and Toshiba even includes a utility to configure this output. Realtek’s codec features mini jack autosensing, so when you plug in a set of headphones or line-out a pop up helps configure things.

We use Super Pi (Super Pi download) to get a benchmark of processor speed. The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy. Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark, below is how the Toshiba Satellite M55 stacked up against other laptops:

The keyboard and touchpad are two of my main disappointments regarding this laptop. Upon the initial inspection of the keyboard I noticed the CTRL key was not fastened to the keyboard correctly and instead was tilted up on one side quite a bit. Attempts to snap it back flat to the keyboard were unsuccessful. When typing, the amount of flex exhibited by the keyboard resulted in uncomfortable typing and more importantly a large amount of noise. While my old laptop was barely audible when typing, this keyboard was so noisy that it prompted several complaints from across the room on the first evening of use.

My first impression of the touchpad was that it seems a bit undersized compared to most; the buttons appeared very small as well. When using the touchpad, it seems very temperamental. Sometimes it won’t pick up my movement but then all of a sudden the pointer will shoot across the screen. I tried making adjustments to the pointer speed, but the behavior didn’t improve. During general use, I found it frustrating to perform even the simplest tasks like moving to an icon on the desktop.
This laptop comes equipped with the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 b/g wireless integrated, but no bluetooth. Almost all comparable laptops seem to offer at least the option of a Bluetooth configuration and I would have liked to have seen that option. The integrated wireless picked up my home wireless network instantly and easily with no configuration needed. It maintained a strong signal everywhere inside our house as well as on the outside patio.

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