The Toshiba Satellite M645 offers great style and performance at a fair price.
Weak screen protection
A little expensive as configured
Toshiba Satellite M645 Full Review
The Toshiba Satellite M640 and M645 offer a 14-inch laptop with solid performance and an attractive design at a modest price. As parents and students gear up for the back-to-school season, does the Satellite M640 below at the top of your shopping list? Keep reading to see what we think of this Core i5-equipped model with Nvidia discrete graphics.
Our review unit of the Toshiba Satellite M640 (M645-S4055) comes with the following features:
14-inch 720p (1366x768) display with LED backlighting
Slot-Loading DVD SuperMulti (+/- Double Layer) with Labelflash
Warranty: 1-Yr Parts and Labor, 1-Year Battery
6-cell Li-ion battery (48Wh) and 75W power adapter
Weight: 5.26 lbs
Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.1 x 1.12-1.45 inches
Price as configured: $1,049.99 ($719 starting price)
Build and Design The Satellite M640/M645 is the latest generation of multimedia notebooks from Toshiba and is designed to offer a perfect balance of performance and style. At first glance, the design of the M645 is pretty traditional with sculpted edges, a mixture of smooth and textured glossy plastics, and some attractive LED accent lighting. The exterior is covered in what Toshiba calls the "Fusion X2 Finish in Charcoal." Personally, I call it black glossy plastic with a textured "chain" pattern imprinted in the surface to help hide fingerprints and dirt. Despite the silly marketing name for the finish, I have to give Toshiba credit here. The textured chain pattern gives you the modern look of the glossy plastics but doesn't look like a horrible magnet for smudges, dirt, or whatever else a student spills on a laptop.
The build quality of the M645 is very good with a durable main chassis that doesn't squeak, creak, or flex even under significant pressure. The screen hinges are a little loose, making it easy to open the laptop with one hand but also making it easy to accidentally move the screen if you bump the laptop. While we're on the topic of the screen, the screen lid doesn't provide as much protection as we'd like. If you press on the back of the screen while the laptop is running you'll see obvious distortions on the screen itself. In addition, placing more than one heavy textbook on the screen lid causes the lid to bend inward sharply toward the screen ... suggesting that the screen lid doesn't offer much protection.
The bottom of the notebook includes two access plates for the RAM, wireless card and the hard drive. Despite the fact that most people buying consumer multimedia notebooks don't perform upgrades, Toshiba engineers made is very easy to get inside this laptop. You only have to remove one screw to access the hard drive and one screw to get to the RAM and wireless card.
Screen and Speakers
The M645 has a 14-inch diagonal display with LED backlighting and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The overall quality of the display is "very good" within the narrow vertical viewing angle sweet spot. The backlight is even and bright, contrast is sharp and colors are good though the colors are a little warm at the default settings. If there is a single obvious issue it has to be the narrow vertical viewing angles. While the horizontal viewing angles (side view) are nearly flawless, the colors become over exposed when viewed from above and significantly inverted and distorted when viewed from below. If you are using this laptop for color-accurate editing you will need to be certain you're viewing the screen from straight ahead.
The display's 1366x768 resolution is a standard resolution for mainstream notebooks. The horizontal resolution is adequate, however only 768 pixels of vertical space means a good deal of scrolling while surfing the Internet and only enough space to view about one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word.
The Satellite M645 features harman/kardon branded stereo speakers located just above the keyboard. These speakers provide an excellent range of highs, midtones and lows with surprisingly rich base for a notebook without a dedicated subwoofer. Since these speakers are located above the keyboard they direct sound up and toward the user. Another item worth mentioning is Toshiba's "Sleep-and-Music" feature which allows you to isten to music from your MP3 player through these fantastic laptop speakers even when your laptop is powered down in sleep mode. The headphone jack also provides a great, static-free connection for external speakers or earphones.
Keyboard and Touchpad The full-size keyboard with LED backlighting on the M645 features Chiclet-style keys that are responsive and provide a little extra spacing to prevent typos. The keys are large and flat and have a glossy texture that shows smudges from your skin oils over time. There is no noticeable flex unless you apply significant pressure to the keys in the middle of the board. A individual key presses are quiet with virtually no "click-clack" noise while typing; making it an excellent choice for taking notes in a classroom or office meeting room. The keyboard also features dedicated multimedia keys above the keyboard and dedicated home, end, page up and page down keys.
The Synaptics touchpad is a fairly nice with a matte texture that provides smooth cursor movement. The touchpad drivers provide excellent accuracy and minimal lag with a range of options. This is a multi-touch touchpad with customizable gestures and overall this touchpad works exactly like you want a touchpad to work. However, the touchpad buttons have very shallow feedback with moderately loud clicks when you press the buttons.
Ports and Features
The Satellite M645 features a great range of ports--making this laptop one of the more "future proof" 14-inch notebooks we've recently reviewed. You get two USB 2.0 ports and a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port in case you want to use fast external storage drives. The M645 also features dual video out ports: a VGA connection for old-school projectors and HDMI for new monitors and HDTVs. More importantly, the M645 includes an ExpressCard slot so you can upgrade this laptop with USB 3.0 ports if you need them. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Left side: Kensington Lock slot, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet and optical drive
Right side: ExpressCard slot, audio jacks, HDMI, combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port, VGA, heat vent and power jack
Front: Media card reader (SD/MMC/MS) and activity lights