Finally, a Little Less Gloss

There have been a couple of manufacturers that historically have hit my pet peeves when it comes to notebook design. Clevo and Acer both have dire keyboards that they frustratingly cling to even in the face of the kind of progress Dell and HP tend to get swept up in, and Toshiba seemed to have invested whole hog in glossy plastic for the longest time. Mercifully, while Clevo and Acer still have those same awful keyboards, Toshiba got the hint from the success of the Portege R700, and has proven themselves a little more agile and willing to change.

The end result is an aesthetic that feels a little clunky, but is at least a major step in the right direction. While smooth glossy plastic is still present (particularly in my most hated of places, the screen bezel), it's used largely more as an accent than a style on the M645. The lid, palmrests, and area around the keyboard are all black and feature a pleasant patterning that's comfortable to use. In the most technical sense this is still glossy plastic, but it's heavily textured in such a way that's much more pleasing—it's the same look as seen on the A660-series laptops we've reviewed in the past, only in a smaller chassis.

In keeping with the times and proving that white is the new blue, Toshiba uses white LEDs for nearly all illumination on the M645, including indicators and the keyboard backlighting, with orange as a secondary color for the indicator LEDs on the front rim of the notebook. I can't complain; there are reasons why blue LEDs caught on the way they did, and the white ones are no different. They're just pleasing to look at.

As for the keyboard itself, the chiclet-style seems to be in vogue right now, and that's fine. Toshiba has a solid layout that's easy to use, and the flex that's present is fairly minimal. I'm disappointed that glossy plastic is used for the keys as it produces an odd texture when you slide your fingers across them, but at this point I just appreciate the progress compared to the big, flat, borderline-slick keys that permeated last generation Toshiba notebooks. At the moment the only manufacturer that seems to consistently nail keyboard designs to near-flawlessness is Lenovo; HP's double-high left and right arrow keys on their modern keyboards are downright bizarre, and Dell seems to still be trying to figure out exactly what kind of key surfaces to use. It's strange the kind of alchemy that continues to occur when it comes to keyboard design; the one part of the notebook that should be seeing the least change over the decades continues to see reinvention. But I digress; Toshiba's keyboard on the M645 is a major improvement on its predecessors, and a change in materials would finish the job.

Touchpads are also tricky things, but Toshiba wisely gets the texture right. These seem to be a matter of taste, but I've found two dedicated buttons along with a mildly textured surface is oftentimes the right call for me, and I had no trouble using the touchpad on the M645. The dedicated touchpad toggle is a constant and appreciated inclusion.

Unfortunately there are still a couple of places where I feel like Toshiba could stand some improvement in their overall designs. The M645 feels curiously bulbous compared to notebooks from competitors, machines that have generally gotten progressively sleeker and eschewed these rounded corners. That's a minor complaint; my major gripe still lies with the use of glossy plastic. It just doesn't belong on the bezel, but at least it's gradually phasing out of the market. The capacitive control strip above the keyboard also feels passe, and most people I know would rather use actual physical buttons than touch-based controls.

Finally, on the feature side, Toshiba made too many perplexing trades here. I appreciate the inclusion of a USB 3.0 port and a Blu-ray drive, and dedicated graphics in a 14-inch form factor are still all too rare in the mainstream notebook market, but why no gigabit ethernet? I'm also sad to see Samsung's hard drive division get sold off to Seagate while Toshiba's continues to plug away at producing mediocre notebook drives. Maybe it's a cost-saving measure, who can say? However, my experience with Toshiba drives is that they've always been the slowest of the slow (alongside Fujitsu). 640GB of space is generous, but most users would probably be willing to sacrifice some of that capacity for at least a higher spindle speed. Notebooks in the price bracket Toshiba targets with the M645 almost always include 7200RPM drives as a matter of course, making the dog slow 5400RPM drive in this notebook an outlier.

Introducing the Toshiba Satellite M645 Mainstream Performance


View All Comments

  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - link

    Sadly, as you found out. eSATA from one device/system to the next is very inconsistent.

    Personally, I was in the market for something eSATA. But after reading through all the woes on user reviews (newegg) about the current state of eSATA hardware. I was "forced" to realize that USB3 is the only real option. It is a shame though, as eSATA has a few pretty nice options to offer. Connecting to a RAID array through a port multiplier would be one.

    USB3 is not however a bad option. 5Gbit/s should be more than enough to keep up with any plater based HDD. Worse case scenario I've read that you double your speed when compared to USB2. Some claim 100MB/s when using one HDD( which I personally find dubious ). I would be happy with a consistent 50-60MB/s though.

    Anyway, this might not do you any good now, for your current problem. But keep in mind that in the future, Assuming the state of current eSATA hardware stays the same. You could have used that expresscard on your laptop to put in an expresscard ->USB3 card and bought a USB3 enclosure for under $60 USD. Here, I am assuming your system did come with an expresscard slot ( which many Toshibas do ). Also, for all intents and purposes where performance is concerned, expresscard slots are in effect a mini PCIe slot. 1.5Gbit/s throughput potential.
  • gte343z - Monday, May 2, 2011 - link

    Has anyone reviewed the lenovo e420s, It would seem to be a good competitor to the m645 in terms of price / features, although they haven't released the version with hd6630m graphics yet in the U.S.

    I'm looking for something in the 13/14" <4.5lbs range and am not that impressed. The mac air / mbp 13 have nice screens but slow processor / no discrete graphics accordingly, not to mention the high price. Still competition is lacking given the subpar screens from other vendors.

    Also how usable is the 1366x768 screen size? I'm used to my hp 8530w 15.4" 1920x1200 screen and am concerned this will be a deal breaker.

    Any thoughts are appreciated.
  • NeilBhisma - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    Really appreciate your Article, it really provides lot of information related to Toshiba Satellite M645. Keep sharing this type of information with us. i also have some points related to Toshiba check on this url to get the information Reply
  • benoakes11 - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    Compare your Battery with comfortable Toshiba Satellite M645 de la eMAG, but some reviews say that it has overheating issues and poor build quality. Also, the most kit is probably bought online so it makes them even more pointless. Reply

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