Toshiba - P15-S479/P15-S470 MCE laptop - Opinions Please?

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by Hari Easwaran, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. I am thinking of buying either S479 or S470. Both are MCE laptops with 15"
    screens ( I don't like the bulky 17") . Circuit City sells P15-S479 for
    $1499 after rebates. I could not come across many places selling S470. Best
    buy and J&R sells them for $1899. Do they come with a TV antenna part of
    the package?.

    Would appreciate hearing opinions and experiences on these machines.

    S479 has 2x DVD writer, and S470 has 4X Dvd writer. I am not sure 2x DVD is
    fast enough.
    Also, apart from HP ZD7000 and Toshiba P25/P15 series, do we have any other
    MCE laptops available in the market?. Still all of them are bulkier with 8
    lbs and less batter life.
    It would be nice though to have MCE laptops with Pentium M processors, which
    none of the above ones do.

    Hari Easwaran, Apr 4, 2004
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  2. I have a S470 that I picked up about three weeks ago. I haven't used
    any of the MCE features (I grabbed it as a $1500 floor model for the
    overall specs, not the MCE compatibility), but I can at least tell
    you that it does come with an external TV tuner. It also comes with
    a remote control.
    Couldn't tell you. I don't write DVDs, at least yet.
    The S470 is also 8lbs, and that doesn't count the charger. I figure
    it around 9.5 lbs with the charger, etc. I mostly just drag it
    between work and home, so this doesn't bug me, but svelte it's not.

    So, stuff.

    It's a desktop P4, which makes the local experts here gnash their
    teeth. I haven't had any overheating issues, even using it on my lap
    with the intakes semi-blocked by my legs, but your mileage may vary.

    The video card is a Geforce FX Go5200. This is a damn sight better
    than, say, an ATI Mobile Radeon, but it's pretty crappy as gaming-
    capable mobile cards go. Toshiba clocks theirs at 200mhz core/400mhz
    memory, which is far below the official nVidia spec for this chip.
    The chip will overclock to an extent (about 10% or so on each, which
    still isn't to spec--special production for Toshiba?) but the nVidia
    PowerMizer drivers end up resetting your clock speed at boot/restore,
    regardless of whether you've told the drivers to change speed. Thus,
    overclocking doesn't really fly.

    The keyboard's kind of wonky. They used a lot of space with idiot
    lights and quick-launch buttons, when they really could have done
    with a couple inches more keyboard space. It's functional, but some
    keys aren't in the right place, so unless you're using it for your
    primary box, it'll annoy you for a bit.

    The screen is excellent. It's not super-reflective like Sony's
    XBRITE (I owned a Vaio for a couple of days before exchanging it) but
    it's still quite high-contrast. It is, however, widescreen. You
    can't fit this laptop in any 15" laptop cases; you'll have to go for
    one for a 17" laptop.

    The laptop is quite fast. I haven't compared the benchmarks on AC
    and battery to see what (if anything) the drop in performance is. I
    don't perceive a performance drop on battery, though. There are
    power settings for whether it should optimize for low fan noise or
    high performance. I imagine these control the underclocking. I have
    no idea if "Full Performance" really means "No Underclocking" though.

    The battery life blows. I get just a bit under 2 hours doing a mix
    of intensive and non-intensive stuff with the power management on
    moderately aggressive settings. Count on getting a second battery if
    you want to watch movies on the airplane.

    There's no A/V out, which is kind of weird for a Media Center system.
    It has headphone out, of course, but no line out. It does have
    svideo out, but not composite. I kind of liked how the Vaio had a
    full A/V out port. If you actually want to use this on your stereo
    system, you'll probably need to buy a Creative Extigy or some other
    USB sound processor, and you'll need svideo.

    Again, weird for a MCE system, but the speakers are crap. They
    distort at any reasonably high volume (though mine may have speaker
    issues from being a floor model) and don't get that loud to begin
    with. I don't expect audio gold from laptop speakers, but my
    girlfriend's PowerBook blows this one away for sound.

    There's some BIOS issue with the hard drive that causes the drive to
    shut down in 30 sec regardless of the power management settings.
    This is highly annoying, as you might imagine. You can grab the 1.1
    version of the BIOS from the P15-420 (same basic machine) and flash
    the laptop with that to eliminate the issue. I haven't seen any
    detrimental effects from doing this, but your mileage may vary.

    It has 802.11a (as well as .b and .g), which is kind of nice if
    you're on an extreme budget. Fry's has been dumping the Linksys A/B
    routers for around $50/ea. They suck with 802.11b, but they hold a
    decent 802.11a signal and it's just as fast as g with less
    interference in the 5Ghz band.

    All this may sound negative, but I'm mostly griping about little
    stuff. Generally speaking, I'm thrilled with this laptop,
    particularly at the price I got it at. If I were trying to choose
    between the S479 and S470, though, it'd be a tough choice. I'm not
    sure if the faster DVD writer is worth the extra $$$.

    Good luck with your choice!

    George Mealer, Apr 22, 2004
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