Back in 2010 Toshiba launched the T215D ultraportable part of the company’s well-known Satellite lineup. If you have seen the 13-inch Satellite T235/T234D then you will probably consider that the T215D is a shrunken version of that model as it adopts just about the same design only this time in an 11.6-inch size. It weighs just 3.3 pounds and measures 11.2 x 8.2 x 1 inches which makes it light and portable enough to carry along without while you’re travelling. It fits easily into a medium-sized backpack or in a typical messenger bag.
When it came out it cost less than $500 but the good thing about it is that it looks a lot better than its price tag would suggest. It has a shiny lid which was available in various colors such as red, white or charcoal, while on top of that is a rather subtle wave pattern which we liked. Even though this glossy surface will pick up fingerprints, these won’t be that prominent as they are on other laptops and ultraportables that a glossy finish.
The deck of the Toshiba Satellite T215 has a chrome finish, while the base and keyboard’s keys adopt a matte chrome look, as opposed to the area above the keyboard and the palm rest which has a very shiny finish as well as a slightly rough texture known as the Fusion chrome finish, according to Toshiba. You will most certainly appreciate the fact that the keyboard inclines a little bit in order to provide a more relaxing position while you are typing. As for the touchpad, this wears a smooth surface and it continues that Fusion look. It comes with two left and right mouse buttons that have a glossy chrome design, without any pattern.
There is plenty of spacing between the keys and we liked the springy tactile feedback these provided, but we did not like that the keys are shorter than they are wide so the typing feel is a bit cramped. If you frequently use shortcuts than this isn’t a suitable keyboard for you since the Tab and Alt keys are quite small.
Sitting below this keyboard is the multitouch-enabled touchpad that measures 3 x 1.5 inches and comes with a surface that provides the right amount of finger resistance. The two discrete buttons are not overly stiff but due to the reason that these are installed on the ultraportable’s lip which as you can see in angled downward, activating both keys is quite unnatural.
The Toshiba Satellite T215 has an 11.6-inch LED-backlit display with a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (720p). This is certainly not one of the best screens we’ve seen in this segment, especially when you use it for the first time with the standard settings. Our advice is to fire up the ATI Catalyst Control Center Advanced which you can access from the Start menu and fiddle with the settings as this display can show some pretty deep black and vivid colors. The viewing angles are quite good taking into account that we are dealing with a glossy screen, but during the dark scenes you’ll most likely see your reflection on the screen.
The speakers of this ultraportable from Toshiba have been installed under the front lip so if you use the T215 on your lap, the sound coming out will be muffled. Things get a little bit better when you place it on a desk but not by much. These speakers are unpowered since even if you turn the volume all the way up these barely have enough oomph to fill a small room. The sound is quite tinny while bass is basically absent.
Even though this is such a small laptop, it has an impressive array of ports and connectivity features. On its left side you will have access to the HDMI port, a USB/eSATA combo port with sleep-and-charge functionality, along with a three-in-one memory card reader. The right spine holds two regular USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet jack, VGA out, along with the usual headphone and microphone jacks. There’s also a webcam above the screen which takes mostly dark pictures with a limited amount of detail and not enough crispiness.
At the heart of the Toshiba Satellite T215 is an AMD Athlon II Neo K125 CPU running at 1.70 GHz which will allow the ultraportable to score almost 2,000 points in PCMark Vantage. It is configured with a rather slow 250GB hard drive rotating at 5,400 rpm which needs approximately 90 seconds to boot Windows 7 Home Premium, a lot more than the average in this competitive segment of ultraportables.
In the graphics department we notice the built-in ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 video card that scores almost 1,200 points in 3DMark06 so this isn’t a laptop built to do serious gaming. You will be able to play games like World of Warcraft at a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels at 30 fps while at native resolution the game is unplayable since it runs at only 9 FPS.
Just like most of the laptops (regardless of their type) manufactured by Toshiba, this T215 part of the Satellite lineup comes bundled with an extensive array of utilities. For example, you get the Toshiba Bulletin Board that can prove to be useful for putting post-it notes, calendars and pictures. Another piece of software that you get with this ultraportable is called ReelTime and it gives you an appealing view of the files you have recently opened. With the Eco Utility you can find out the amount of power that the laptop is consuming and it also offers some useful tweaking options. The built-in webcam comes bundled with the Web Camera application with which you’re able to take still photos and record videos.
Since this is an ultraportable powered by AMD, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too high regarding the performance of the battery department. During normal use it lasts for less than five hours which is considerably less than what Intel-powered ultraportables are capable of offering nowadays, with lots of models being able to hit even eight hours of runtime.