Review: Satellite Pro notebook protects itself with faces instead of fingerprints

Toshiba's latest notebooks use face recognition for security -- but is the technology ready for prime time?

The proof of any notebook is how well it works on the road. I used the Satellite Pro U405 in the office, on commuter trains and in a variety of cafes and hotel lobbies. It starts up quickly, was a reliable travel companion and has all the basic ports: FireWire, external monitor and three USB. A big bonus is that you can set the power-conservation software so that the system can charge a USB device (like an iPod or a phone) while the machine is turned off. On the downside, the left side of the unit gets hot.

Toshiba outfits the system with Windows Vista Home, but makes up for it with a good assortment of installed software. The system comes with Microsoft Works, programs for editing movies, software for controlling the notebook with vocal commands, and a great set of utilities and games.

The Satellite Pro U405 scored a 561 and 4,108 on the Passmark Performance and Futuremark PC Mark 05 benchmarks, well above the scores of notebooks with the same processor. The price for this performance is a mediocre 2 hours and 20 minutes of battery life. I suggest getting the nine-cell high-capacity battery, which should add an hour to its runtime, but costs an additional US$150 and adds about 4 ounces to the weight.

Its facial recognition software may not be a pretty picture, but the $US1,150 Satellite Pro U405-S2830 is a powerful notebook at a great price.

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