Price is a sensitive issue when it comes to top products and it's no different with notebooks. It's in fact, a little more difficult when it comes to notebooks because the competition between brands that produce a line of similarly priced and spec'd notebooks is so hot that choosing between them is a painful task. Toshiba as a brand, isn't as popular among the public as say, a Dell, Lenovo or HP, but like we've seen in the past, there are products that can possibly match up or even be better than most of the mainstream products by popular brands available in the market. Toshiba's Satellite line of notebooks have been around in the Indian market for ages, and their M840 is their sub-45k offering, which we'll be reviewing today.
Design and build quality
The review unit we received, came in a unique greenish-blue colour, which I didn't partucularly like, but some at our labs sure did. The finish is glossy and it's predominantly plastic, so it doesn't have a premium, solid feel to it. The same finish is carried on to the front, along the trackpad and the panel below the keyboard, which doesn't really look nice. A slightly contrasting colour and finish would have been better.
A USB port on the left side
The look isn't the only problem, it's also the strength. It's not the sturdiest notebook of the ones that sells around the Rs. 45,000 mark, but it is lighter - much lighter. Most of the notebooks in this price range weigh around 2.4 to 2.6kg. The Toshiba Satellite M840 in comparison, is a mere 2.1kg. So, if you're looking for a light notebook specifically, this should be one to consider. It's also smaller and thinner, so putting it in a bag and carrying it around is easier than the larger 15-inch screen notebooks. This particular one comes with a 14-inch screen. The hinge that holds the screen up isn't particularly strong. It's decent but there's some wobbling that can be seen if you were to tap it a bit.
What the Satellite M840 lacks in build quality and design, it makes up in features. There’s a Core i5 2450M processor in place of the Core i3 processors that you find on notebooks priced around the Rs. 40,000 mark. This should help boost performance if you’re using applications such as image and video editing tools and if you’re going to be encoding lots of media. Unlike the more expensive ASUS K53S, the Satellite M840 only has a 500GB hard drive and no discrete graphics solution either, but then it’s also around Rs. 4,000 cheaper than the ASUS notebook. You also get USB 3.0 capability.
Audio and video connects on the other side
The keyboard layout is different from other notebooks. They aren't a major issues but something worth noting, if you're thinking of buying this notebook. The keys are spaced out quite a bit, and they are quite slim and thin. They lack a chunky feel to them and feel extremely light.
The smaller size means that Toshiba hasn't been able to integrate a numerical pad on the keyboard. Some of the keys such as Home, Page Up, Page Down, End and so on are all lined along the right side. This is very different from other notebooks and you're going to have to get used to these changes.
Slightly unconventional keyboard layout and design
The direction keys are also very small making gaming and scrolling through pages and spreadsheets a little annoying. The font styling used on the keyboard is also different. Some of the keys such as the Enter key are imprinted with ENTER in large characters, so it looks very odd at first. One nice feature is the presence of hotkeys, including ones for multimedia controls that are present, making it easy to control your media without using the trackpad. The status indicators are along the edge of the notebook, which means you'll rarely see them unless you move back.
The Toshiba Satellite M840 although not the best designed notebook has a lot of performance to offer. The Core i5 processor has a lot more to offer than the other Core i3 2330M and 2350M processors priced a little lower than it. It shows in all of the CPU intensive tests, especially in video encoding, file compression and PC Mark 7. A file compression test using 7zip that normally takes between 35 to 40 seconds on a Core i3 processor, gets done in 30 seconds flat on this. This might not sound like a lot, but it adds up to a lot when you’re compressing much larger chunks of data. It’s a similar case with the video encoding test where the M840 eats through it within 109.8 seconds as compared to 130 seconds on other notebooks. PC Mark 7 gave us a score of 2260.
Lightweight, so it's easy to carry around
Performance isn’t impressive in just CPU related benchmarks. Crystalmark, a benchmark used to test the drive speed shows that the drive on the M840 can reach speeds of upto 99.33MB/s while reading data and 92.7MB/s while writing - this is pretty impressive. It is graphics performance where the M840 fails to impress. The lack of a discrete graphics solution shows, especially in benchmarks such as 3D Mark Vantage. It scores 8720 points in 3D Mark, higher than most notebooks without a discrete graphics solution but nowhere close to those with one. Audio quality is average while the display is pretty good - well lit and well detailed.
A very colourful looking notebook
Toshiba sells the Satellite M840 for a price of Rs. 41,000, a bit expensive considering the kind of options available in the market. It’s one of the cheaper notebooks running a Core i5 processor. You’ll find other notebooks with a slightly slower processor but with better design and better graphics performance for the same price. The HP Pavillion G6 that we recently reviewed is a good example of that. If CPU performance at a low price is all you’re looking for, then this Satellite M840 will suit you well.
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