Toshiba Satellite Pro 410CDT
Best retro purpose
Early Windows 95 era gaming released before 1997 or as office computer. While the video chipset is reasonably fast, the highlight of this laptop is the ESS 688 audio chip, a model with a very good SoundBlaster emulation capability along with good MIDI capability. All these features are available out of the box, with no configuration. 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 CPU speed, 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. The plastic chassis can crack when used in sunlight areas , although the laptop is well built and also has reasonably durable internal circuitry. Typical shortcomings are on the Acupoint 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 can be done. This is possible due to 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 despite internal heat buildup that may happen inside the case.
Greatest features & flaws
|Great Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS gaming, good Windows 95 support||Mediocre CPU cooling system, sometimes hot running|
|Great SoundBlaster compatible support||Mono speaker, proprietary RAM modules|
|Good keyboard and trackpoint, ergonomic case design||Soldered CPU|
|Removable bay for floppy and CD-ROM drive, integrated power supply||Poor reliability harddrive and floppy drive|
A mid-range laptop, features wise, with a good LCD screen. The display has only two brightness levels, being somewhat inadequate in use. Response time is allright, making the laptop suited for office use as well as vintage games.
The laptop feels quite fast due to the specified CPU, with a reasonably fast video controller. The CPU does get warm and the cooling system is not that great, with a small and noisy single-speed fan, but the laptop handles constant heat quite well with no fan spin. 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 Acupoint 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 FDD drive was a very poor choice, since the belt driven disk rotation fails after many years, compatible belts being harder to find unreliable. 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 speaker is quite good, even if it is mono. The front placement and size make it sound reasonable well, much better than speakers placed below the top side of the chassis but far from late Pentium era Toshiba laptops. 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 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 dissassembly 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.
Software support is great in DOS and Windows 3.1, making the system feel snappy. DOS sound capability is great, with good Adlib compatibility and Sound Blaster Pro emulation. It does not require any TSR or configuration to enable DOS support. In Windows 95 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 486 and Pentium laptops which kept RAM and Video performance from being as high as it could. Although the video controller is faster than some Trident models, it is far from late Pentium 1 era Neomagic 128 chipsets.