The Toshiba Satellite L855-S5189 laptop packs some impressive specs for a reasonable price.
In the sub-$1000 laptop category, there are not many business-orientated models that stick out as feature-packed while still maintaining a sleek design. Toshiba has managed to carry out this feat with their Satellite L855-S5189 model laptop which is priced just under $800 and features competitive specs for the given price range. You won't find all the bells and whistles in this model as it was designed for business use, but it will soar through all the word processing, web browsing, data-entry, and office-related functions you can throw at it.
Design & Build Quality
This Satellite PC does not stray from the traditional Satellite laptop structure and doesn't bring any new innovative design features to the table. Having said that, it still is a well-designed laptop that is suitable for both “on-the-go” or stationary use. If you're looking for an ultra-thin and lightweight notebook, this Toshiba model does not fit in that class as it weighs in at a hefty 5.5lbs and is 1.31″ thick when in the closed position.
A nice feature found within this 15.6″ laptop is the full premium keyboard including a full number-pad, which is a must-have for many business professionals whom used to inputing numbers on a regular basis. The multi-touch touchpad is offset to the left of the keyboard and features the separated two mouse button design below it. Nowadays, you often find these buttons integrated into the touchpad itself like on the newer HP, Lenovo, and Apple models. The texture of the touchpad is a bit rough and will take some getting used to. Personally, I prefer the ultra-smooth finish of the glass touchpad found in my Macbook Pro, but for the price range I can't complain all that much.
I find the overall textures and color choices used in the Satellite L855-S5189's design to be appealing and sleek. The checkered finish looks excellent up close and the black contrast of the keyboard and screen's bezel compliment it nicely. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed on the overall quality of the build materials used within this notebook. The plastic casing just feels a bit weak and cheaply produced where you miss out on the stability, durability, and piece of mind that you get from some of the more expensive alternatives.
Another gripe I have with this laptop is when you close the lid, it doesn't “snap” into place or feel as though it is shut properly. This makes it feel awkward to carry in a closed position and gives off the impressions that they skimped on the overall design or perhaps just did not invest in a quality hinge assembly.
The screen is also a bit disappointing as the 15.6″ screen only has a resolution of 1366 x 768. If you are not aware, this means it is not HD even though several competitors are offering HD screens for the same price-point. I think the main reason for this lower-end screen is that the system is meant for working with spreadsheets, emails, and word-processing instead of streaming movies or working with multimedia, therefore the need for a high-def and high-end screen is not a necessity.
While the outside of the laptop didn't blow me away, the internal hardware did impress me for this price-point. The Satellite L855-S5189 packs 8GB of DDR-3 RAM which can be expanded up to 16GB total. The processor surpasses most competitors at this price range packing a 3rd-gen Intel Core i7 (quad-core) clocked at 2.4GHz. The excellent processor coupled with the RAM gives this baby some real power and momentum to keep your computing experience smooth even when you're multi-tasking with multiple processes at once.
Unfortunately, the internal 1TB hard drive is the downfall of this laptop running at only 5,400 RPM which slows down the system in instances like booting and file transfers. This is an easy fix for someone who is tech-savvy enough to replace it with a 7200RPM counterpart for less than $100. But for those of you who aren't tech-savvy, don't worry as the hard drive speed will not be noticeable for the average consumer and the rest of the hardware does a good job in making up for the lack of HDD speed.
The Satellite L855-S5189 shipped with a 64-bit copy of Windows 8 Pro. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Windows 8 so the first thing I did was load on the Stardock Start8 software to give me that start menu and traditional Windows functionality that I desire.
One complaint I have with this PC (which is also common with the majority of new PCs today, regardless of brand/model) is the amount of bloatware that was pre-loaded onto the system when I received it. After launching the computer for the first time, I was bombarded with random Toshiba branded programs, Norton Security free trial windows, and Wild Tangent game popups. This is a really annoying issue for any consumer who just bought a new computer and can give you a decrease in performance due to this 3rd party software bogging down your system.
To counter this issue, I installed and ran my favorite bloatware removal tool (PC Decrapifier) and the majority of these programs were automatically removed. I then went through and deleted the few remaining pieces of software manually. This took some time and was inconvenient, but in the end it made the system faster and I was able to use the machine without getting anymore promotional or interruptions.
The Toshiba Satellite L855-S5189 performed very well throughout my testing, but its slow hard drive, weak resolution, and lack of a dedicated video card limit the potential of this system in a non-business environment. That being said, it is marketed for business use and throughout my testing was fully capable of handling all business-related tasks with ease.
However, if you are looking to perform more graphic intensive tasks involving multi-media, HD video streaming, or PC gaming then you'll likely want look at a similarly priced competitor like the Acer Aspire V3-771G-6814 (17.3″ screen) or the ASUS N56VJ-DH71 (slightly more expensive).
Windows Experience Index
Average Boot Time (3 Trials)
Average: 20.9 seconds
In the end, I found the Toshiba Satellite L855-S5189 to be a solid contender for a business-orientated laptop under $1000. It packs some impressive specifications, but lacks a dedicated graphics card, higher screen resolution, and faster hard drive needed to push this laptop to a the next level beyond basic business-related tasks. If you are looking to use this computer for gaming, multimedia design, or HD video streaming, you'll want to look at similarly priced competitors (see examples in previous ‘Performance' section). If you are strictly looking to use this for business-related work and will not be doing any graphic-intensive tasks then this laptop should suit your needs greatly and be relevant for several years to come. Overall, I do recommend this laptop to prospective buyers as it is constructed and sold as a “business” laptop in which it performs well in any business-related tasks I put it through and has the cosmetic appeal going for it.