There’s a huge amount to like about the NB100, Toshiba’s first netbook.
Here in Australia, unlike in the UK where a slick custom Ubuntu Linux implementation is available, you only have the option of Windows XP Home on the NB100. With that, you get decent specifications, starting with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and the standard 1GB of RAM.
The hard disk is well-sized, if not as large as the HP Mini, at 120GB, providing plenty of room for documents, music and other media.
The WLAN chip inside the NB100 is a standard 802.11bg device, but it also adds 10/100 ethernet, Bluetooth, VGA and three USB ports to round out the features.
Although the specifications are adequate, especially for a netbook of this size, there’s a lot of competition for the same market right now and Toshiba doesn’t stand out in all the ways it counts.
Performance for netbooks isn’t expected to generate any speed records, but even by netbook standards the NB100 is a poor performer. It managed only 0.28 in our 2D performance benchmark, well below the likes of the HP Mini or Eee PC 1000H.
They keysize for main letter keys has been increased in an attempt to make it easier to type on, but they’re still very small and it’s not easy to get used to.
The position of shift and pageup are such that we found ourselves a line above where we wanted to be far more times than was useful. Anyone aiming to do much typing should steer clear however: it’s near-impossible to
But there are positives to balance the downsides. Counterbalancing the less-than-stellar keyboard, the trackpad has a nicely tactile, slightly roughened feel that makes it easy to navigate with, and buttons that, while small, are not too small for ongoing use. Trackpads are one of the sore points for netbooks, and it’s nice to see it done well on a device this small.
Another positive is the 1024 x 600 screen, which manages to look impressively crisp and clear for it’s size, and the tiny fonts involved are sharp and easy to read. The embedded 0.3-megapixel webcam it looks sharp on the high-quality 8.9in glossy display.
Its battery life, for a 4-cell battery, is nothing special at 2hrs 49mins under light use, but at least Toshiba offers additional 4-cell batteries.
The other optional extras that Toshiba provides are also worth a mention. Apart from extended warranty options, there are plenty of cases, mouses and other add-ons, including a floppy disk drive.
In this cut-price market Toshiba’s netbooks look a little expensive – especially considering the bland design. If the NB100 drops in price, though, it could be worth a look.
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