Stunning battery life and some clever hardware and software touches make this the best 10.1in netbook that you can currently buy.
It may be hard to get excited by yet another 10.1in netbook, particularly one with largely identical specifications to every other Atom N450-based model. However, for its NB305 Toshiba has put a fair amount of work into making this one stand out from its competition.
For starters it looks fantastic in all three colours (white, black and a sort of burnished gold). In fact we’d go as far to say that it looks more like an expensive ultra-portable rather than a cheap netbook. Its looks aren’t just skin deep, and the NB305 feels incredibly well made. The screen is held on by tough hinges that don’t bend or creak when used, while the netbook case feels incredibly tough. It definitely feels like it has been built to be lugged around in a bag all day.
This feeling is further reinforced by the light 1.3kg weight and incredible battery life. Lasting 10-and-a-half hours in our light-use test, this netbook lasted around two hours longer than any other netbook that we’ve tested. Simply put, you can take this computer with you and use it all day without having to worry about finding a power socket.
For something so light and with incredible battery life, it’s important that it’s comfortable to use. Fortunately, Toshiba hasn’t let the side down here. The 10.1in screen doesn’t have great viewing angles, but its hinges let it open just far enough so that it’s clear to read when the laptop’s sitting on your lap. The display has a glossy coating, although we didn’t find it hard to use under bright office lighting.
Colour reproduction was excellent and the warm-tone helps improve flesh tones in images. We were very happy with the contrast and our test photos lost none of their detail. As with other netbooks the resolution of 1,024×600 is just about enough for single-document use and web browsing.
The keyboard has separate ‘chiclet’ keys. They look great when you open the laptop and are surprisingly comfortable to type on. They’re just about the right size and we found touch-typing no problem. We have only two minor complaints: the Tab key is very small and the backslash key is in the wrong place.
The large touchpad is a pleasure to use. It’s very responsive, while its two individual buttons are large, conveniently placed and are very responsive. Multi-touch gestures can be used on it, using Windows 7’s native support to zoom into documents and scroll through documents. If you’re doing a lot of typing you can disable the touchpad, so that you don’t accidentally lean on it and move the cursor.
Otther shortcut keys let you adjust screen brightness and volume and cycle through the wireless options. The latter lets you turn on and off Bluetooth (brilliant for tethering to a phone for 3G internet access) and 802.11n wireless.
|Intel Atom N450
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtec High Definition Audio
|Intel GMA 3150
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
|Operating system restore option
|one year carry-in