Best Netbook Yet? Hands-On With the Toshiba NB205

toshiba_nb205_3488gOn paper the Toshiba NB205 looks like most of the other netbooks we have seen over the past year (10.1-inch display, Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and Windows XP), but in person it really stands out. With a unique design, stellar keyboard and trackpad combo, and a long-lasting battery that’s rated for a whopping 9 hours of endurance, Toshiba’s NB205 is a breath of fresh air. Updated: We have posted a full review of the Toshiba NB205. Check out our impressions, gallery and hands-on video below to see why we think the NB205 could top the rest. We have been seeing better and better looking netbooks, but the Toshiba NB205 is hands-down one of the most stunning we have seen and have had the chance to use. Toshiba is offering two different versions of the NB205. The $399 version we used has a well-designed lid with raised horizontal lines. Our model was Sable Brown and had an overall professional look. It will also come in Royal Blue, Posh Pink, and Frost White. The $349 version will be offered only in black, and will have Toshiba’s smooth fusion finish (rather than the raised pattern). Beyond the attractive lid, the hinge is super elegant with a shiny bronze covering. Where we were really impressed with the NB205 is under the lid. The metal island keyboard on our model (the cheaper version will be plastic and non-island style) is one of the best netbook keyboards we have seen and rivals that of the HP Mini 2140. The keys are not only sturdy and comfortable, but also correctly placed to allow a touch typist to get right to it. Similarly, the touchpad on the NB205 is one of the best we have seen on any 10-inch netbook. The large pad is smooth and makes it easy to navigate the desktop. Its two dedicated right and left mouse buttons are comfortable and far from stiff. The NB205 packs Intel’s Atom N280 processor, 1GB of RAM and an 160GB hard drive which boots Windows XP Home. Our unit had the older N270 Atom processor so we opted not to benchmark the system, but it did provide the typical netbook performance we have become used to experiencing. The NB205′s 160GB hard drive is protected from sudden drops by a 3D accelerometer and it will come standard with a 6-cell, 5800-mAh battery, which Toshiba says will get about 9 hours of endurance. However, the battery protrudes further from the back of the system than most 6-cell-equipped netbooks. Toshiba has added a other twists to make their netbook stand out from the others. The display is LED-backlit, which is nominally greener than CCFL-backlit screens, and helps the system last longer on a charge. Also, all three USB ports on the NB205 will feature Toshiba’s sleep-and-charge technology, which lets users recharge peripherals even if the netbook has been turned off. Toshiba demonstrates that being late to the game doesn’t mean you can’t get in it. The NB250 has a standout design, solid feeling chassis and stellar keyboard. While we can’t make a final call on the new netbook until we run our tests and see how long it lasts on a charge, our initial impressions have us extremely optimistic.

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  1. Alejandro Says:

    “Toshiba has added a other twists to make their netbook stand out from the others. The display is LED-backlit, which is nominally greener than CCFL-backlit screens, and helps the system last longer on a charge. Also, all three USB ports on the NB205 will feature Toshiba’s sleep-and-charge technology, which lets users recharge peripherals even if the netbook has been turned off”

    All The Netbooks that I know have backlighted-LED display, including my old Eee PC 8G; And all my netbooks have USB ports with sleep-and-charge (while they are conected to the transformed – unless you talk about doing this in battery mode – without being plugged to the wall). Nothing special about this notebook, although the design is very elegant…

    ALE_/|\_2K9

  2. Rip Says:

    You mistakenly called the NB250. I think mentioning the Bluetooth for 310 models was important and you forgot that. We all like pretty computers but we buy a netbook for its size. Less about the pretty things and more specs.

  3. Fanfoot Says:

    [BTW the pictures aren't linked in order quite right, you have to click prev from the first one to go through them all]

    Aesthetics look very nice, and the price is right. Can’t tell, but it might be a little chunky. I’m leaning more in the direction of the 1008HA and the original HP Mini 1000 these days. As long as this is under an inch thick (ignoring the massive battery shown here), that’s fine.

    Not sure this is a staggering breakthrough though. The 6 cell sticks out an awful lot. I’d be inclined to go for the 3 cell to keep the system size and weight within reason. I really don’t normally need 9 hours of battery life. Maybe the 3 cell can do 4.5 hours? Also, that right shift key concerns me. Haven’t we all learned the lesson of the early netbook keyboards? Couldn’t they have just put the PgUp and PgDn keys on either side of the cursor up and left the shift key full sized? The fact that YOU didn’t have a problem with the shift key size, doesn’t mean somebody else with bigger hands won’t.

    Also, that bezel is ridiculous if they’re not planning on building one with an 11″ higher rez display. I assume that indicates this is quite a bit bigger than the typical 10″ netbook in size, even before allowing for the battery.

    Also, having the USB ports at the front isn’t a good idea, even if having them powered when the unit is off is (hopefully this is configurable).

    You don’t mention… upgradability (the panels on the bottom look encouraging), whether Toshiba will be offering the unit with an SSD option (I assume not, but I’m not buying a netbook that doesn’t use one), multitouch support on the trackpad (?), where the hell the speakers are (on the bottom which might be problematic).

  4. Ben Says:

    @fanfoot

    The bezel is the size it is because of the keyboard size.

  5. BlackManRising Says:

    Just saw it at a Brandsmart in Miami…WOW…this is the best looking netbook I’ve seen. I was about to purchase the ASUS 1000HE from CompUSA but I’m glad I waited. It does have a SD card slot on the left side (in response to earlier post). It does not have an Express card slot, but it seems only Lenovo’s S series still has this. I typed on the keyboard and was blown away by the level of quality in this product. Since this was the first time I saw the netbook, I decided to go home and research it before I purchased it. (Trying to avoid buyer’s remorse — ha ha ha.)

    It also has an awesome webcam, Bluetooth 2.1, 160 HD, and an unbelievable RAM config of up to 8 Gig!!! (It only comes with 1 Gig, though.) I saw the white, brown, pink and cheaper black model. I think the brown looks the classiest. It was on sale for $398. Now that I have had a chance to research the NB205 and have read about the battery’s duration and what it looks like (not so cool), I think I will still buy it.

    Hope this helps.

    Peace,
    BMR

  6. Kelvin Says:

    Ben,

    I agree with you, the bezel size is due to the keyboard.

    If the laptop were to be any smaller, all good reviews about the full-size keyboard and superb typing experience would have not been there. If Toshiba were to make the screen any bigger, screen resolution would have to be increased as well and it wouldn’t have cost just $399. If NB205 were to hit over $400, there would more complains about the price than the bezel.

    In short, NB205 is best at what it is now.

  7. KYLE Says:

    I got this laptop because of its size, looks and versatility but there have been problems that are causing me to return it. ive had to use system restore 2 times in less than 2 weeks because of something having to do with the wireless internet, it would work fine one day and then refuse to function the next. the track pad is slow to respond, jerky and will freeze at times it quickly becomes frustrating! also due to the wide yet short resolution (1024 x 600) there are menus on certain programs that i cannot hit “ok” or “apply” on since those menu windows require a 1024 x 768. that issue is far too obvious to ignore. processor speed reminds me of early 2000 era when a 2.0GHz P4 was blazing fast. if you are used to a dual core of the same speed you will be more than annoyed by that. also this laptop is quiter than a Mac book even with the volume all the way up (which may take some time due to the cheap “realtec” audio software lagging)
    Good: size, weight,battery life, Hdd saver, ram, hard drive size
    Bad : screen resolution, processor speed, track pad, wireless LAN controller, speaker volume, audio software

    Verdict: clearly designed for those who type a lot on the go (especially on long rides or flights) this net book was built for work not play… and only work sent and recieved via SD Card not wireless internet.

  8. mikey Says:

    I have had this netbook (in blue) for about 3 weeks now, so I can comment on some of the features and issues previously mentioned.

    First of all, the build quality and general feel of the netbook is very good. I really liked the good feel of the keyboard, which was a major influence on my purchase (that and battery life). The device feels solid, and it’s easy to upgrade the ram (just a small screwdriver is needed to open the cover on the back of the case). I think the size is just about perfect (it fits into my camera backpack), and even though the battery sticks out in the back, it still sits flat and is not obtrusive. Also, the larger battery doesn’t look like some genetic mutation like some of the other larger battery optioned netbooks.

    The netbook comes loaded up with bloatware. There were 55 running processes in it’s factory configuration. After uninstalling a bunch of stuff, and doing my normal windows XP tweeking, I got it down to 24 without an antivirus suite (it comes with norton, which is a resource hog – uninstall it!). And I still have the toshiba power profiles function and hard drive protection. The performance and boot time is noticeably better after doing this.

    The wifi was acting up when I took it to hawaii. sometimes it couldn’t connect, or would take 15 minutes to finally lock into a signal. I went to Toshiba’s support website and downloaded the new wifi driver (it’s dated May 2009). That completely fixed the problem and I had flawless wifi connectivity afterward. You don’t need any of the wifi utilities (I just use the built in windows wifi wizard).

    It has a USB port that remains “hot” even after the netbook is shut down. so you can charge your cell phone or other usb device without having to turn on the netbook. I personally disabled this feature, but it’s there if you need it.

    There is a new audio driver that increases the volume of the speaker, though it doesn’t really make it sound much better, so you’ll want to use headphones if you are in a noisy location.

    The resolution does cut off some menus/windows, but the screen will automatically pan up when you move your mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen, and enables you to see the portion of the menu/window that was cut off.

    I got this netbook mostly for travel entertainment, and it didn’t disappoint. I recently used it on a 5-1/2 hour flight from L.A. to Hawaii, and watched a movie, a few episodes of top gear, and listened to music with it. I was able to use it for two more nights in my hotel to check emails and browse the web without having to plug it in. I got very close to the advertised 9 hrs of battery life. I always have BT and wifi turned off when they are not in use, and I have movies/videos running off an SD card which is probably more efficient than running them off the hard drive.

    I also installed an old copy of photoshop CS on it, and it seems to run just fine (though I do have 2gb of ram now), So it’s a very capable netbook for being so portable.

  9. John51 Says:

    Actually, on seeing the pictures on twitter I was between 80-90% certain that was the place. ,

  10. Benusha Says:

    The batery does not hold power for 9 hours. If you realy use the computer, it will hold may be 2 hours +
    Next, I just wanted to turn blue tooth on and did not found the divice, but when I purshased I read configuration and It said that this netbook has Bluetooth 2.1 EDR. Check this web site http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/toshiba-mini-nb-205.aspx?mode=specs

  11. mariya Says:

    Toshiba NB205 is new launched of Toshiba.Seeing it”s feature we say that it is one of the best net book in the category of 10 inch.But there are a big problem in here that is no connection of blue truth.

    http://www.dealpocket.com/default.asp?search=2&catval=4&cattext=%27Computers%27

  12. David Rains Says:

    DO NOT BUY. The first one I received would not power up as the center switch was bad. The second lasted a full nine weeks and the hard drive failed while we were in Europe on a 30 day dream vacation. THANKS Toshiba for screwing that up and us losing 3000 pictures which cannot be replaced. DO NOT BUY THIS PEICE OF CRAP!

  13. Mary Says:

    DO NOT BUY – Extensive evidence of “boot – up – failure” see http://forums.toshiba.com/t5/Batteries-and-Power/NB205-won-t-turn-on-properly/td-p/51431. Toshiba’s lack of support and denial of manufacture defect insures I will not buy Toshiba again!!

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