Toshiba NB550D review
It’s not often that we get excited over a netbook, but Toshiba’s new NB550D is an exception. It’s the first netbook we’ve seen that uses an AMD Fusion processor, the first real competition for Intel’s Atom.
The dual-core C-50 processor inside the NB550D runs at a lowly 1GHz, but is still powerful enough for most basic tasks. In everyday use it felt just as responsive as an Atom-based netbook, running several browser tabs and Word documents without any slowdown. Serious multitasking is still out of reach though, as seen in our multimedia benchmarks. An image editing score of 18 is reasonable for a netbook, but the video and multitasking tests were just as slow as on a netbook using Intel’s hardware. On the plus side, the C-50 has a slightly smaller power draw than an Atom, which helps extend battery life. In our light use test, the NB550D managed an astounding nine and a half hours.
Although Fusion might not beat Atom in everyday applications, it has far better graphics support, courtesy of a DirectX 11-compatible Radeon 6250 chip integrated in the processor itself. It’s capable of playing Full 1080p video, although you’ll have to connect an external display to get the full resolution; the NB550D's 10.1in screen has the same 1,024x600 resolution as most other netbooks. Gaming performance is definitely a step up from Intel’s integrated chip, but Fusion isn’t nearly powerful enough to play modern titles and Call of Duty 4 crawled along at 5.6fps.
Watching video on the glossy netbook display wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience because picture quality was below average. Still images lacked contrast, even at maximum brightness, and colours looked cold. Both horizontal and vertical viewing angles are very limited, although there’s a reasonable amount of tilt. The huge glossy screen bezel is a fingerprint magnet and clashes with the matt plastic netbook body.
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