Toshiba is late to the netbook game, and with its 10.1-inch Mini NB205, the company overcompensates and complicates things a bit too much. But it still delivers a capable, quality machine.
Our favorite part of the NB205 is its Ironman stamina. We eked about six hours of battery life from our testing, outlasting one of our favorite netbooks, the slimmer, six-cell Asus Eee PC 1000HE, by a whole hour. The catch to having such endurance, though, is some serious junk in the trunk: namely, an extra-large battery. The NB205’s six-cell caboose sticks out like J-Lo’s a robotic Richard Simmons and makes stowing the otherwise svelte device somewhat awkward.
Other aesthetic touches help set the NB205 apart, such as the roomy, comfortable trackpad. Often cramped and overlooked in other models, the trackpad in the NB205 has a grainy texture to help prevent your finger from slipping in the wrong direction.
The NB205 ships with the new 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N280 processor, which has circuitry to improve video playback. We watched a few trailers in high-definition, and they played noticeably smoother than in older netbooks. Even with fast-moving action sequences, compression artifacts (little jaggy parts of the image that are a telltale sign of insufficient image-processing power) were hardly visible.
As for overall performance, the NB205 was a wee bit slower than the Asus Eee PC 1000HE, which sports the same processor. But it turned in faster results than netbooks with the older 1.6-GHz Atom chip, such as the MSI Wind and the HP Mini 1000. For instance, the NB205 took roughly 10 minutes to complete our iTunes file-conversion test; the MSI Wind took 13 minutes to perform the same task.
However, setting up the NB205 is annoying. Practically everything you do, from launching a web browser to physically moving the computer, is punctuated with a message seeking validation for the task. NB205: “Are you sure you want to launch Internet Explorer?” get-gadget: “Yes, dammit, I’m sure!”
And yes, it even fusses about being moved. When you nudge the thing ever so slightly a notification box appears reading, “Vibration has been detected in the PC. The hard disk drive head is temporarily moved to a safe position.” That’s a cool safety feature, but couldn’t the netbook just put prompts like this in the background?
Fortunately, you can uncheck boxes so these pop-up notifications never appear again. After that, our experience with this machine gradually became better.
The keyboard is where we issued the NB205 the most demerits. The tilde key (~) is oddly located to the right of the Alt key, on the bottom row of the keyboard. Overall, there are too many keys crammed into the bottom row, and over several hours typing I found myself repeatedly hitting ~ instead of Alt, or Fn instead of Ctrl.
Another demerit goes to the netbook’s screen hinge. It feels cheap and plastic-y. It’s also shinier than the rest of the netbook, which can be distracting especially under bright light.
The Toshiba NB205 comes in several colors. Our test unit came in pink, and the enclosure’s flamboyantly vibrant color tricks your eyes into thinking on-screen windows look purplish. We recommend sticking with black, blue, white or brown.
Though the NB205 is a promising, solid device, we still prefer its similarly powerful rival, the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. Asus’s netbook offers a more comfortable (albeit cheap-feeling) keyboard, and its battery life and trackpad are equally impressive.
Processor:1.66-GHz Atom N280Hard Drive Size: 160 GBRAM: 1 GB