You know how Toshiba played it safe with the NB305, barely changing the design of its flagship netbook, the NB205? Not so with the Satellite E205. This thin-and-light ($999), Toshiba’s second laptop for Best Buy’s Blue Label program, is a whole lot more stylish than its predecessor, the forgettable E105. And, thanks to Intel’s new Core i5 platform, announced this week, it promises stronger performance, too. Designed in collaboration with Best Buy– and sold exclusively there– the 14-inch E205 has a radical new look that features an electric blue lid and touch-sensitive multimedia controls.
The coolest feature of this system? With the push of a button you can beam whatever you’re watching on this laptop (like Hulu) to your big-screen TV, courtesy of Intel’s new Wireless Display technology. Best Buy bundles a special box from Netgear that acts as a wireless receiver and plugs into your HDTV via HDMI.
Read on for our first impressions, and check out our hands-on video and gallery of photos.
At the risk of sounding cliche, the difference between the E105 and the new E205 is like night and day. Gone is the E105’s “polarizing” (to use a kind word) boxy shape and loud, patterned finish. In its place, the 5.1-pound E205 ushers in a rounder shape and a bold glossy blue finish (Toshiba bills it as navy, but again, it looked more electric blue to our eyes). Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the E105 and the E205.
On the inside, it has a backlit keyboard, a large, low-friction touchpad, and large touch buttons, which take after the NB205 and NB305’s in that they extend all the way to the lower edge of the chassis. In our brief hands-on, though, they felt much stiffer than the touch buttons we loved so much on the NB205 and NB305.
The 14-inch display has 1366 x 768 resolution, which is standard for a laptop display of this size. It also has a slot-loading optical drive and touch-sensitive multimedia controls along the right side of the keyboard, which Toshiba has branded FeatherTouch controls. Certain smaller details, such as the fact that the AC port is in the back (and not on one of the sides) also give the impression that the E205’s design was well thought-out.
Intel Wireless Display
Aside from design, what makes the E205 newsworthy is that it contains Intel’s Wireless Display technology, which, with the help of a box by vendors such as Netgear, allows users to wirelessly stream 720p video from their noteook to a large display. During our hands-on, the video quality stuttered noticeably on the larger screen for one clip, but improved when we tried another. The video is carried over 802.11n to the Netgear box, and is then converted to a wired HDMI signal.
Best Buy’s Blue Label Program
In addition to the fact that Best Buy helps collaborate on the design of the notebooks in its Blue Label program by both suggesting key design elements, such as a backlit keyboard or slot-loading optical drive and approving the final product, it also offers some attractive extras. These include 12 months of Norton antivirus protection, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, 30 days of Geeksquad support, and a two-year warranty (most consumer notebooks come with a one-year warranty).
The E205 will be available for $999 on Best Buy’s site on January 12, and will appear in retail stores several days later. Stay tuned for a full review.