Toshiba C55D-B5214: Durability

If you have been following or read up on all my posts about my Toshiba Satellite you may have found many positive aspects. Well, it’s time to speak of the negatives as my trusty secondary machine is starting to decline, rather quickly.

It’s been just under two years since I purchased this laptop(October 2014) and I can say this model laptop certainly isn’t built like laptops of the past. From a battery that doubles as the CMOS battery to a flimsy plastic shell, this device was not made to be manipulated as much as I have done so.

Plastic shell

Let’s talk about the shell housing. From the first time I tore this machine apart I knew it was not designed to be taken apart. It has very thin plastic clips to hold the main chassis together. A few had cracked when I opened it and later a few had broken completely after a handful of disassemblies.

What’s even worse is that the screw sockets are of a similar quality. I have 3 screw locations that have broken off completely and need reattached. One is on the screen hinge so it pops and needs pushed back together everytime I open and close my machine.

Lastly the plastic grate over the heatsink suffers the same fate. A large section of the grill has cracked and broken off. I saved it to super glue back on, but it seems it may stay like this as I doubt it will last more than another year at this rate, at least with the other issues that have occurred or been brought to my attention.

Charge indicator

Most recently I plugged my laptop in to charge and to my surprise the charging light didn’t kick on. Honestly I thought my laptop was dead on the spot or would no longer charge. I opened it up and booted into Xubuntu to find it was indeed charging. Hooray it’s not dead! However, now I need to use it when charging to ensure it actually is 100% charged. Great… glad this isn’t my main machine or I would be rather upset. However it is currently acting as my main machine while my desktop is in need of assembly in our new apartment. So actually this is a bit of a pain.

CMOS/Battery Issues

The nail in the coffin for this machine for me is it’s strange use of the main battery as the CMOS battery that is attached with screws. Removing it causes the clock to be reset. However the most important note is what commenters have said about it in my previous articles. They report that a dead or old battery that needs replaced actually requires it to be replaced for it to work. I confirmed this myself by removing the battery and attempting to boot with the power cord plugged in. The system will not boot. So this is three annoyances in one. Removing the battery to quickly power off is not easy, it resets the BIOS clock and you can’t use the machine without a functional battery. This is absurd.

This is terrible because once the battery goes I MUST buy a new battery to continue to use it. I hope this isn’t a new standard practice because it was always nice to have old laptops that could work as portable desktops once the battery died. Sadly this hardware can’t be kept as such which means I will be in big trouble if the battery dies and it’s no longer available for purchase. Goodbye hardware. Even though you are still good, a dead battery means you are now useless. What a waste.

Because of this I have decided that once the battery dies I will just recycle the machine as it won’t be worth it (with it’s other flaws) to keep.

Trackpad issues

This device has had another issue that was temporarily fixed but came back to bite me again. Ever since I purchased it I have had spotty trackpad issues where it would stutter or fail to recognize my fingers. Well, this isn’t reserved to Windows only and is present in Linux as well. This isn’t too bad as I prefer to use a mouse anyway, but boy does it make it hard to use anywhere but a desk.

I suppose this means I have faulty hardware, but I recall others mentioning they have had similar issues. I did find that after removing all drivers in Windows it ran flawlessly for a few days until it downloaded drivers for it automatically. Oh well. Portable mouse is required I guess…

Short life span

All of these issues add up to a somewhat dissatisfying experience. Sure I did only pay $350 for this machine about 2 years ago, but I didn’t think it would fall apart so fast, even with the dozen times I opened it up. All other laptops I have worked on(older models) have been well constructed and felt solid to dismantel and rebuild. This one just doesn’t seem to be up to the task. I feel most of my issues have arisen from this which makes me realize why it’s advertised as non-upgradeable and non-user-serviceable. Sure you can, but then you find the flaws and it falls apart.

As these flaws are rather glaring (as well as the terribly low res screen) I have come to expect I will replace this device sometime next year probably fall 2017. I am not sure it will last much longer anyway. I use this device lightly and the battery under Linux already shows its running at 86% of it’s maximum capacity. So in another year the battery will be too low to want to use away from the wall anyway and may be low enough that it won’t boot.

C55D, it’s been a good run so far. I hope you can continue to run well into next year, but I see the value provided isn’t as great as I expected. I hope you can stick with me a while to provide that extra value through the next year. Then you can retire as a well used machine that has helped thousands of others upgrade their machine and make their computing lives better. Although the teardowns were too much for you, it was totally worth it. I am happy to know that my damage to you has not been in vein and it has helped so many.

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