Toshiba Mini NB205-N210 vs. NB205-N310: An Extra $50 for a Better Keyboard?


Ever since I reviewed the Toshiba Mini NB205-N310 in early June, I’ve been recommending it as my netbook of choice. A few weeks ago my friend, despite her incredible taste in music and handbags, mistakenly ordered the $349 Mini NB205-N210  (which we just posted a full review of) from, rather than the $399 NB205-310.

Unlike the $399 Toshiba’s Mini NB205-N310, the N210 lacks an island style keyboard, Bluetooth and a ribbed lid.  The 9 plus hours of battery life and same internal specs – an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM. 160GB hard drive and Windows XP – it’s still got. It comes down to this: is it worth spending $50 for a much improved keyboard? Sure, the better looking design and Bluetooth are nice, but the keyboard is the real differentator between the two models. The NB205-N310’s island style keyboard isn’t only well spaced but the keys have a smooth coating and feel great on the finger tips. The NB205-N210’s matte keyboard is plastic feeling and all panel is completely flush. After looking at both keyboards side by side and taking a typing test on both, my friend decided to return her N210 for the N310. What is your take? Is it worth the extra $50 for the more comfortable keyboard (and the Bluetooth and better looking lid)?

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  1. Anonymous Says:

    The keyboard is the main I/O device on laptops and desktops. Those keys have to last through years of punishment. Plus, laptop parts, most of which are designed for a specific chassis, can be a pain to find and replace. I’d rather risk a crappy RAM stick or HD since those can be interchanged more easily if they break.

  2. ikkefc3 Says:

    Actually, the battery and the bluetooth were the showstopper for me.
    In Europe, we have the NB200-10Z which has Atom N280, 1GB ram, 160GD, webcam etc. and we have the NB200-10L which is the version with the cheaper keyboard, other lid and a battery that lasts only 3:36 hours (according to Toshiba).

  3. eipxen Says:

    I might be hesitant had I not tried typing on one at a best buy, at which point I realized that it really blew every other netbook keyboard I’ve tried clean out of the water (in my opinion). The keys feel really great and solid, depress just right, and are spaced enough for pretty comfortbale typing. I currently own an MSI wind, which I find very good, but would consider upgrading to the toshiba if only it, or any of the 10 inch netbooks really, were significantly different from my current. Unfortunately, apart from battery life, they aren’t, and the ~5 hours I get on XP and ~4.2 hours I get on Ubuntu are enough for me, even if the idea of an all-day battery seems appealing.

  4. prad Says:

    I did the same mistake and am currently typing off of my black nb205-210….. wish i could return this and get the 310!

  5. ikkefc3 Says:

    I returned my NB200-10Z for an Asus EEE pc 1005HA-H.
    It’s great to have the multitouch back. If the NB200-10Z didn’t have the clunky battery, ran less hot and had a multitouch touchpad it would be perfect (and it should come with a sleeve).

  6. Richard Says:

    It would be a no-brainer if the better keyboard was spill resistant and lit. As it is, tough choice — I’m looking for a Netbook partly for portability, and partly for a low cost solution. $50 is +15% (approx). Still, I’ll probably go with the better keyboard.

    Bluetooth doesn’t matter to me (or to most people, I suspect). Using my phone as a Bluetooth modem is too expensive, and their aren’t that many compelling add-ons.

  7. Richard Says:

    Oh, and decent stereo speakers. My 6 year old Toshiba laptop/boat anchor still gets ooohs and ahhhs for its terrific sounding Harmon Kardon speakers.

  8. B. Will Says:

    Not so fast Toshiba fans! Why do you think instrument panels in aircraft almost always have black background panels with white lettering and numbers? Easier for the eye to see particularly in lower light conditions or very bright lighting conditions. Soooo, the NB205-N210 is almost ideal in that regard. Chicklet keyboards? Their fine. But… why doesn’t Toshiba issue an all black N205-N300 series with white lettering and numbers on the keys? Then everyone would have a color of choice. Me.. I’ll take a functional black computer with bold white lettering anytime. having been a 30 year retired aircrew member with oh…. about 10,000+ hours give or take a few, I know from where I speak.

  9. Jerry Says:

    I have the black N205-N210, and I prefer it over the island-style N310. The keyboard is very comfortable. Battery life is phenomenal. No problems with sleep mode or with trackpad. The only cons are as follows: (1) speaker positioned down instead of up (sound is muffled), (2) lower res video camera for Skype, (3) bottom gets hot, (4) light on the power button a bit annoying when watching a movie.

  10. mark Says:

    The concept of “a better keyboard” is subjective. I personally prefer the keyboard on the N210. You fingers slide over the keys much faster and i have no issues touch typing with the N210. I suggest doing what i did, get the N210 and apply the saved money to a 2gig memory card. The only real deal breaker is if you need bluetooth. If not go with the N210 if you do, then go with one of the others.

  11. Ed Says:

    I went down to my local Staples and checked out the chicklet style keyboard on the 310. I didn’t like the feel of the “pop up” keys. Yes, the 310 was “snazzier”. It had a colored lid (whoopee) boy would my friends be impressed. I don’t need bluetooth, I prefer a standard keyboard, Who am I going to impress with a netbook? I agree with another poster, I put the extra 50 bucks toward the ram upgrade. The 210 is perfect for me.

  12. Ghost Says:

    An extra $50 for something I will never use for extended typing seems like a waste to me. I’m glad Toshiba offers both models personally.

  13. booya Says:

    Both keyboard work for me, but I’d like to get the chicklet keyboard in all black. It reminds me of my thinkpad.

  14. flyeagles Says:

    I tried both N210 and N310 in local MicroCenter store. I actually prefer the N210 keyboard, because it allows a quick and less-strenuous typing experience. N310’s island-style keyboard looks nice, but if you are used to type very fast, you will find the N210 keyboard is actually easy to use and less prone to error. So, even without the $50 difference, I will pick N210 over N310.

  15. Brian Says:

    The N310 is ugly, really ugly. Chav ugly. It is worth $50 MORE to get a less ugly computer, and when it costs $50 LESS (and I can get a USB bluetooth for next to nothing) there is no reason for anyone who isn’t a chav to bother with the n310.

    If nothing was glossy on the N210 I might have it already.

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