Toshiba Satellite C655D AMD E-240 Fusion APU Notebook Review
Design and User Interface
Aesthetically, the Toshiba Satellite C655 is the most generic laptop I’ve ever reviewed. It is made entirely out of matte black plastic, most of which has a textured design that makes the laptop particularly resistant to showing fingerprints, although fine grain dirt and lint can get caught in the many groves of the lid and palmrest. Two speakers, housed in very obvious outlets, sit just above the keyboard and are joined by the laptop’s power button, which is the only button on the entire laptop besides the optical drive bay eject button. There are no dedicated media buttons of any kind, nor are there any buttons that lead to special menus or pre-installed bloatware.
While the complete lack of features is a bit jarring at first, I’m not sure the simplicity of the laptop can be considered a negative. The truth is that 90% of the built-in media and function buttons found on laptops are junk. Even when I owned a ThinkPad, one of the few laptops with a function button that lead somewhere useful, I almost never had need to touch it. After a few hours I actually found the C655’s lack of buttons to be a bit refreshing, even if it is likely driven by cost rather than a conscious choice to use minimalist design.
As a 15.6” laptop, the C655 doesn’t qualify as small, and it isn’t thin either. It measures about 1.5 inches thick, which feels beastly compared to many modern laptops. This thickness is entirely unnecessary considering the hardware inside the C655, and this again is a decision based on cost rather than design goals. While the hardware inside the C655 is new, this chassis has been around and has been used in laptops featuring everything from Intel Celeron processors to the Intel Core i3. Toshiba has used this chassis with AMD’s new E-240 only as a means of reducing costs.
Thankfully, the chassis is solid, even if it is much larger than necessary. There is little flex in the materials, the plastic used feels sturdy, and the lid resists pressure well. Upgrading the laptop should prove to be easy, as well, thanks to two separate plastic bay covers placed over the RAM and the hard drive, each of which is secured by just one screw. While these are basic traits that every laptop should have, I’ve used laptops twice as expensive that do not feel as robust as the C655.
As you might expect, the keyboard of the Toshiba Satellite C655 is as generic as its chassis. Toshiba has long used a very flat Chiclet key design on its 15.6” laptops, and the C655 is no exception. That’s a bit unfortunate, because this keyboard has always struck me vague. The keys are large and flat, providing little tactical indication of where your fingers are on the keyboard.
This is particularly annoying because Toshiba offers much better keyboards on much smaller laptops, such as the Toshiba T235D. It seems odd that the company can execute keyboards so well when designing laptops with limited space, but then flubs the keyboard on a chassis that offers substantially more real-estate. Part of the problem likely stems from the need to include a numpad, but there is certainly room for improvement, and other 15.6” laptops have dealt with the inclusion of a numpad more gracefully.
Thankfully, the keyboard at least resists flex well, and has a decent layout. Don’t get me wrong; there is certainly flex to be found, but none that is noticeable when typing normally. I also like the fact that Toshiba reduced the size of the space bar in order to accommodate larger Ctrl, Function, Alt and Windows keys.
The C655’s touchpad is reasonable, although again the company seems to have ignored lessons learned on its smaller laptops. While very wide, the touchpad isn’t very deep, and there is a large amount of unused space between the bottom of the touchpad and the touchpad buttons. There is an even larger amount of unused space between the touchpad buttons and the lower edge of the chassis. Clearly, a much larger touchpad could have been accommodated. With that said, the C655’s touchpad did strike me as more responsive than what you’ll find on most inexpensive laptops. I was particularly impressed with the touch gestures support. Scrolling and zooming was surprisingly responsive. This is an area where inexpensive laptops often fall down, so it’s nice to see that C655 remains capable.