According to recent data, Toshiba is the fifth largest notebook manufacturer in the world and growing. ASUS is nipping at Toshiba’s heels, while Toshiba in turn is losing a race to catch Lenovo, the Chinese brand which took over IBM’s personal computing business almost a decade ago.
From a marketing perspective, Toshiba has always struggled, particularly in North America. There’s little cohesive thought behind the brand’s image despite their prevalence in retailers like Best Buy. That doesn’t mean that Toshiba laptops review poorly, however, or that you shouldn’t buy one. Let’s have a look at what they offer.
In my experience as a laptop reviewer, Toshiba offers above average quality and does so consistently. Design is not the company’s strong suite and, as a result, many of their laptops are rather dull and boring. The Satellite line that has long dominated its mainstream consumer offerings is a real snooze. Yet it’s also a well built line, featuring a strong chassis and pleasurable keyboard. Recently, the Portege line has satisfied enthusiasts looking for an ultraportable, offering excellent battery life and durability. Toshiba netbooks are generally well reviewed, as well.
If there’s any weakness for the brand, I’d say it is their desktop replacements – large laptops with display sizes of 17 inches or more. My experience with these products has left me unimpressed. Many other companies that build laptops this large do so with style, but Toshiba’s large laptops seem to be the same as their small products, but up-sized a bit. That’s not to say they’re bad, but I’d direct most people to a Dell XPS rather than a 17-inch Satellite.
Overall, Toshiba laptops are generally an excellent value and offer quicker hardware than most competitors at any given price point. The company’s laptops can often rival the pricing of value brands like Acer, but in my opinion the quality is better, which makes these laptops a more attractive package.
For example, Toshiba’s current Satellite line includes the Satellite L755-S5271, which has a second-gen Core i3 processor but costs only $499, making it one of only a handful of laptops to offer the latest Intel technology for less than $500. It’s hard to go wrong with a laptop such as that.
Reliability and Customer Service
All the information that I’ve read about reliability has been positive. Long-term reliability is outside the scope of a normal laptop review, but reliability ratings from companies like SquareTrade and Consumer Reports can point us in the right direction. All the information indicates that Toshiba products are significantly above average. That’s no guarantee that you won’t run in to an issue, but it is unlikely.
Customer service, on the other hand, is generally so-so. Laptop Magazine’s Brand and Tech Support round-ups have shown that while Toshiba customer service is readily available in most situations, questions aren’t always answered in a satisfactory manner, and the online web support could use some work. In terms of warranty, Toshiba’s products generally come with a 1-year limited warranty, although a few high-end products like the Portege are sometimes sold with 3 year extended warranty.
As I’ve said in my laptop brand guide, I think Toshiba is solid, and well deserving of consumer attention. Although the design could use some work, these products are otherwise functional, inexpensive, and reliable. They’re a good choice for anyone in need of a budget laptop that can be trusted, or someone looking for an excellent ultraportable.