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I just bought this walmart special cheap, is it worth it???

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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July 20, 2008 6:19:21 PM

I just bought the below laptop from Walmart today ($398) for my wife for email, surfing, basic games (card games - simple games in general) and maybe watching some movies on it while waiting to pick kids up from school.

Will it do the job or would I be better off paying about $500 and buy something a bit better? I just saw this in the ad today and thought it sounded cheap.


Toshiba Satellite A205-S5000
# CPU : Intel Celeron Processor 540 (1.86 GHz)
# LCD : 15.4" Diagonal Widescreen TrueBrite Display
# MEMORY : 2GB DDR2 RAM
# HDD : 120 GB
# ODD : SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
# MODEM : 56K
# LAN : 10/100 Base T
# WIRELESS LAN : 802.11 b/g WLAN
# SOFTLOAD : Windows Vista Home Premium

Thanks for any input you can provide!
July 20, 2008 9:04:15 PM

Celeron processor is a little slow, especially if you are running complicated software or restoring the Vista OS and system software. A C2D processor would perform much faster, less time involved on user's part sitting there waiting for a task to complete. You didn't mention your video chip, but for $400 you didn't get a 'premium' video card. Also the 15.4" monitor is small. But, no problem using it for the tasks you mentioned. I would mention, Walmart is not a good source for computer related products.
July 20, 2008 9:09:30 PM

Yes I know, I'm currently using a Dell laptop myself, but just wanted something cheap for the wife who wont be using it for much. And you have to admit at $398 this one is cheap. Only thing is, sometimes the only good thing about a "deal" is the price. And that's what I am trying ot find out here.
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July 21, 2008 1:15:36 AM

I'd say for brand new $400 can't complain too much. if all she is using it for is surfing email basic games and movies I'd say it's pretty much the perfect machine. granted it's got a celeron however with 2GB of ram and the 120GB hard drive I'd say it's a worthwhile trade off. not that I'd recommend buying from wally world but for $400 you got a great deal. Toshiba makes great products a friend of mine has a toshiba satellite from a couple years back still running strong with no issues at all.

you could potentially spend the extra $100 and probably get a lower end dual core (pentium dual core not C2D or AMD X2) and maybe a slightly bigger hard drive however with only basic usage is there a real need to spend the extra money if the extra power won't be put to use probably not.
July 21, 2008 4:53:10 AM

That isn't bad at all, and the tradeoff of a slower CPU for 2GB of RAM is perfect for a basic Vista machine. Glad to see they finally didn't skimp on one of the most important parts to make a cheap PC run smoothly (RAM).
July 21, 2008 12:12:42 PM

I bought one myself i plan to put a Linux distro on it. if i can`t change out the processor for a faster one.
July 22, 2008 4:47:12 AM

of course it worth
July 24, 2008 7:07:34 AM

Actually, this system is surprising powerful - yup, you heard right! At first glance the moment I saw Celeron and Vista Home Premium I, as most of us thought it would be a junky bargain buy, but being a tech-savy dude with the next two days off I'd run it through some testing to see if it was indeed junk. (In part because Wal-mart has a no questions asked return policy so long as it is returned within 14 days with the receipt).

Now the specs are as follows:

# CPU : Intel Celeron Processor 540 (1.86 GHz)
# VIDEO: Intel 965 Express
# LCD : 15.4" Diagonal Widescreen TrueBrite Display
# MEMORY : 2GB DDR2 RAM
# HDD : 120 GB
# ODD : SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
# MODEM : 56K
# LAN : 10/100 Base T
# WIRELESS LAN : 802.11 b/g WLAN
# SOFTLOAD : Windows Vista Home Premium

What makes this a true bargain is the larger hard drive, extra gig of ram, wireless, dvd burner, sd card reader and Vista premium. Normally for $400 we'd expect only a gig of ram, 80gb hd and vista basic.

Ok, now after removing about 6 crapware programs and cleaning out the program files directory of the remnants I downloaded Firefox 3 along with AVG8. I've also had some great success with Auslogics Boost Speed and grabbed a copy with key from our buds at the piratebay. I also grabbed a sidebar gadget for monitoring ram and core usage. Now, because of the Celeron processor I decided to go into the control panel under performance and disable the aero glass feature (transparent window panes) which visually reverts the OS to more of a Vista Basic look. For some reason it chews up the processor. After a couple of restarts the OS booted up just under a minute (45-50 secs) without the Sidebar. I found it unusual that the sidebar function wasn't enabled being that this was Vista Premium but nonetheless, enabled it and installed the usage meter gadget.

After all that I went back into the control panel, system maintenance, performance tools, and ran the Windows Experience Index to get the score. Man was I shocked with these numbers:

4.1 - Processor (Calculations per second)
4.5 - RAM (Memory Operations per second)
3.2 - Graphics (Desktop performance for windows aero)
3.3 - Gaming Graphics (3D Business and gaming graphic performance)
5.2 - Primary Hard Disk (Primary data transfer rate)

WOW...considering the price and the hardware I was shocked.

Now for the bad...

As I surfed the web and downloaded files I would try to access the start menu but it was locked and the error window popped up offering me a restart of explorer, shut down or to try and wait it out. Now for those that don't know, the Explorer the message is referring to is NOT the browser as I was using firefox rather the windows explorer exe program manager that links the program start menu and task bar icons. I tried to wait it out but after about a minute opted for the restart. This actually seems to occur every so often now (3x within the last 45 min) and quickly reverts me back to the "what do you expect for $400" mentality.

To help optimize the OS further I loaded up Boost Speed and tweaked everything from the registry to the start-up programs along with defrags of both the hard disk and registry. After another restart the freezing explorer bar still occurs with the same frequency.

There seems to be an updated video adapter for Intel 960 but I can't get it to install, but I did manage to locate a BIOS update from the Toshiba Website.

All in all, the system surpassed my initial expectations. Asides from the annoying need to have to restart the explorer bar when it freezes I give this unit a B- for student and business usage. I'm hoping that the bug can easily be fixed with some more research and an email to Toshiba and Intel support.

Hope my review helps!
July 24, 2008 7:22:31 AM

oh, one more quick tip...

I noticed a real easy and quick way to test the efficiency of a notebooks hardware (processor, ram and video card) but only on a Vista Home Premium and up machines on display at an electronics store.

Close out any windows or programs that are running. And then open an internet explorer window, solitaire game, and the control panel (total of 3 windows).

Next to the round start menu button click the 3d aero glass icon (usually the second icon from the left) which is next to the desktop icon.

Now keep an eye on the 3d pane generation. If the panes aren't generated seamlessly with a very smooth transition I can almost guarantee you that the Windows index score will be under 3.0. Flip back and forth pressing that 3d pane icon a few more times to see if the pc rebounds (it usually doesn't). Granted, it's a very simple and broad test but it can give you a quick idea as to its overall performance. I did this the other day at circuit city and low and behold, each unit that failed my test further proved my technique after getting a low index score under 3.0.

Even a dual core with 2gb of ram and crappy on board memory will fail this test. I bring it up only because the $400 toshiba passes this test brilliantly.
July 24, 2008 1:48:45 PM

I have been playing with mine for the past couple of days as well. I too got rid of the bloatwear and downloaded firefox 3 and Avast. I have experienced no lock ups with mine as of yet. I have been please with this configuration, if one wanted a basic notebook for classroom/work papers and email ect , this laptop really is not bad at all, and if it got dropped or stolen you certainly couldnt/wouldnt scream like it was $1000.
I have been thinking that ram is pretty cheap for these models and i might try 4 gigs to see what it will do.
I have been waiting to see if anyone else has torn into the guts to see if the processor is soldered or not? I understand it has the Santa Rosa chipset which should allow a faster processor.
July 28, 2008 5:15:29 PM

I have had my toby cheap $400 laptop for about a week. I got rid of all the junk, and it's working great. Being an avid WoW player, I decided to load it up and give it a go. After downloading all the updates-8 hours-I fired WoW up. Guess what? I'm running it in widescreen-1280x768, at about 20-30 frames per second. This is very playable. All this with a celeron processor, and onboard graphics. My dual-core desktop, also with 2 gigs of RAM, did no better with it's onboard graphics. I installed a card on the desktop, because it was sometimes worse.
I have an old HP laptop, with 512 ram, and an old athlon 4 processor, and it barely played the old NeverWinter Nights.
My only gripe about my cheap Toshiba, is that the sound will not go loud enough. I fix that with head phones, but if me and the kids want to watch a movie on the road, it may be an issue. Everyone will have to be absolutely quite.
Anyway, my friends dell XPS gaming computer does not play WoW much better than this. I don't think I'll be playing Crysis on it anytime soon, but WoW is a very good start. :sol: 
July 28, 2008 8:49:59 PM

I just came back from Virginia Beach and they had one of these left. Personally I do think it's a good deal if you only cheap applications, forget about windows vista, IE 7 and Office 07.

I considered getting it, but truthfully, there isn't much you can do with it. I would install XP on it, won't hog your system as much.

I have Vista Ultimate x64 and have no regrets, I love vista and wouldn't go back to xp for anything; but vista is for powerful computers, don't waste your time with anything below P4 3.4 and 2GB of Ram and an actual graphics card.
August 1, 2008 1:24:21 PM

I just saw this laptop "A205-S5000" on wallyworlds front page under electronics for $498.00. Kudo`s to those who bought it last week.
!