Toshiba Satellite 225CDS
Best retro purpose
Unfortunately, with the poor contrast and ghosting of the internal display, only office tasks are reasonably acceptable. Early Windows 95 era gaming released before 1996 is possible using an external display. While the video chipset is reasonably fast, the highlight of this laptop is the ESS 1688 audio chip with a true Yamaha OPL3 implementation, a model with a very good SoundBlaster emulation capability along with good MIDI capability. Although finding drivers and configuring audio settings is quite cumbersome, the implementation is solid. The video chipset is well compatible with MS-DOS and Windows 95 games, offering well rounded performance. The only slight drawback is due to the video chipset not being as fast as NeoMagic controllers, making the laptop suited for most classic DOS games, including Quake, avoiding any resolution that is higher than 400x300 resolutions if 3D acceleration is required. 2D games run perfect in 640x480 resolutions.
Durability and Repair-ability
The durability of this laptop is above average. While the plastic chassis is far from being perfect, the laptop is well built and also has quite durable internal circuitry. The only shortcomings are on the Accupoint system cap that degrades and disintegrates with age, as well as the trackpoint buttons rubberized coating. Fortunately, the rubberized coating can be completely removed by scrubbing with iso-propyl alcohol leaving the buttons quite comfortable eve in this state.
The laptop's screen is easy to service, meaning that LCD backlight lamp removal and replacement is quite easy but the poor output quality of it makes for an unattractive proposition. The generous and forgiving lamp mounting space which means that repairs are quite easy to carry out with moderate patience and care. This is actually one of the easiest repairs of this type that can be done for beginner users, keeping in mind the usual care of dismounting and unclipping. Thus, replacing an old or damaged LCD fluorescent lamp is quite simple as it requires only disassembly of the display's case and removal of some screws and a top plate.
Overall, despite the poor reliability of Toshiba harddrives, the configuration itself seems very well designed, meaning that laptops have quite a long life and the system itself survives quite well due to low internal heat dissipation in a roomy case. More modern IDE standard hard-disks can be used for replacement since compatibility is quite good.
Greatest features & flaws
|Great Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS gaming, good Windows 95 support||Mediocre Windows 98 2D acceleration|
|Great SoundBlaster compatible support, great speakers, USB port||Proprietary RAM modules, incompatible with EDO standard|
|Good keyboard and trackpoint, ergonomic case design, good serviceability||Very poor LCD image quality, soldered CPU|
|Removable bay for floppy and CD-ROM drive, great, quiet cooling||Poor reliability Toshiba harddrive|
A mid-range laptop, features wise, with a very bad LCD screen, released in 1996. Despite the display being promoted as a dual-scan screen, the technological improvement that can be achieved with this technology is not enough. While marginally better than a single-scan LCD, the dual-scan one still offers poor contrast and lots of ghosting. The display has only two brightness levels, being somewhat inadequate in use. Response time is very slow, making the laptop suited only for office use. The speaker setup is one of the best in its time, being one of the highlights of this laptop. The design, format and weight are not as spectacular as some IBM laptops, even if this Toshiba lineup was positioned as high-end.
The laptop feels quite fast due to the specified CPU, with a reasonably fast video controller, although it is far from Neomagic models. The CPU does not get warm and the cooling system handles load very well, with a quite large fan for its time. The laptop handles constant heat quite well with no fan spin, which is a major benefit. The keyboard has reasonable tactile feedback but it is far from being the best, with quite a long key travel and a mushy feel. The Accupoint cursor system (mouse compatible) is reasonably accurate but the cap disintegrates and the click buttons rubbery face fails similarly, in time, becoming sticky. The laptop's plastic case is quite durable but not the best.
The removable disk bay is very good for a laptop of its generation and the rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. There were many Toshiba laptops that used the same battery and working with a removed battery does not affect stability or aesthetics. There are two more internal rechargeable NimH batteries inside the laptop that may leak and are somewhat harder to replace (not the typical, compact CR2032 3V button cell). They are used for Bios settings and memory suspension features.
The integrated speakers are very good. The front placement and large size make them very pleasant. Actually, the sound output is one strong point of Toshiba Satellite laptop throughout many generations. The microphone quality and positioning is mediocre, with chassis noise (hard-drive) being picked up easily as in most laptops of this era.
The harddrive is placed on a caddy, requiring removal of a single screw to slide. There is plenty of space inside for other storage systems. Unfortunately, the standard HDDs supplied by Toshiba have a known tendency to have their heads stick to the parking position limiter when old, making the drive fail to start. Careful internal disassembly is required to unstick the heads from the parking position. Use care and touch only the drive arm near the center pin to slowly unstick it. Overall, the hard-drive offers medium performance while having quite a pleasant sound in operation. The use of proprietary memory that is EDO RAM pin compatible but cannot work in the laptop if standard memory modules are used is highly annoying.
Software support is great in DOS, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95/98 as well, making the system feel snappy. DOS sound capability is great, with good Adlib compatibility and Sound Blaster Pro emulation. While configuration to enable DOS support is quite cumbersome, it is properly working. In Windows 98 you start to feel the sluggishness of the system as the video controller has insufficient acceleration and low screen scrolling performance. Basically Toshiba used roughly the same platform on Pentium laptops with little differentiation. Although the video controller is faster than some Trident models, it is far from late Pentium 1 era Neomagic 128 chipsets.