One of the first notebook computers to include WiDi at retail is the $899 Toshiba Satellite E205-S1904, a model that’s exclusive to Best Buy. Though having WiDi included makes the E205-S1904 intriguing enough, we’re also excited because the last Best Buy exclusive design that Toshiba made, the E105-S1802, was one of our favorite Satellite laptops. We particularly liked it for incorporating a more comfortable keyboard and touch pad than are available in most mainstream Satellite models.
One of the biggest changes to the Toshiba Satellite E205 is cosmetic: whereas the E105 series had a clean, somewhat boring gray chassis and a solid, tapered keyboard, the E205 adopts a totally new look with a dark blue plastic finish (called Fusion Finish in metallic blue), rounded edges, and a slot-loading DVD drive. The laptop feels more plasticky and slightly less rugged than the E105, but it also looks trimmer, too. The E205 looks thin, but a lot of that is a visual effect produced by the extremely tapered edges along the sides and front. Still, the Satellite E205 is thinner than many full-size laptops at only 1.2 inches. A larger-than-normal rear hinge enables the 14-inch screen to open up at an angle that “floats” a little more off the keyboard than standard lids. The lid also opens up at a very wide angle.
Toshiba’s move to a flat backlit keyboard instead of the very comfortable tapered E105 keyboard is frustrating: it’s a return to the keyboard lineup available on most Satellites, and frankly, the flat keys leave something to be desired. Though the toshiba satellite E205 keyboard seemed to respond a little better than the keyboards on other Satellites we’ve reviewed, the main part of the keyboard still flexes too much for our taste. The multitouch touch pad beneath is smaller than the stiff-clicking buttons beneath, which is awkward–but the flush matte touch pad surface worked fine for us as we used the toshiba satellite E205-S1904 keyboard. A row of dedicated media touch-keys run down the right side of the keyboard, controlling audio, basic play functions, an Eco power utility, and backlighting.
The E205’s most notable feature, one we’ve profiled in great detail, is its Intel Wireless Display capability, or WiDi. The E205 can, with the assistance of a simple Toshiba software tool, send its video display to any TV with RCA or HDMI input jacks, courtesy of the included Netgear Push 2 TV box. The WiDi connection is akin to that of a Wi-Fi bridge, but has surprisingly decent clarity and can be initiated at the push of a button. Our initial tests worked well and at a far range, although a few subsequent tests had connection difficulties.