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My older sister has a Toshiba Satellite that she got brand new in 2004 and has it survived 5 years of being battered and bruised through 5 years of medical school and is still going strong today. She refuses to upgrade, as well it's so well built and does what she needs (office, internet, iplayer) with such ease. In essence they are workhorses that will last and in the event of anything going wrong, their service is meant to be excellent (my sister has never needed it ) Generally, I'm sure my fellow posters will agree, Toshiba's reputation tends to proceed them for being so darn reliable!
Acer are a mixed bag, some will sing their praises but for me they were a complete nightmare. They are cheap but not affordable in my opinion, as I never found them reliable and once the warranty is over you are on your own and that 'bargain' will seem an expensive headache 16 months later.
I've just got a Toshiba Satellite T110, only 11" screen. Intel Celeron CPU, 2GB of ram and my first impressions are very good.
Build quality seems excellent and I like the look and style, seems a cut above the other Notebooks out there (for the price). I had a look in PC World etc at various others and did think the Acer's were a good price but nowhere near the quality or finish.
Performance seems more than adequate. Browsing and playing movies and MS Office run with no problems.
I've owned two Toshiba laptops over a nine year period - my 2nd is still going strong. I have never had any problems with either of them.
My work means I'm on the road for up to 10 months in any given year, & these laptops have been on & off trains, buses & planes pretty much constantly, with no problems. When I eventually replace my current laptop I shall definitely stick to Toshiba, & I can't recommend them highly enough.
(In the interests of impartiality, I also travel with a Mac iBook on occasions & have had no problems with that either.....).