Hands-On: Sleeker Toshiba mini NB305 Promises 11 Hours of Juice

DSC_0014Last year, Toshiba made a late-entry into the netbook market. It was a cautious one, too: it’s only offering was the NB205. And yet, this late-comer knocked our socks off, winning our Editors’ Choice award, along with other repeated endorsements from us. So, we were excited to get hands-on with the NB305, the follow-up to this netbook, which Toshiba announced this morning.

Fortunately, Toshiba was hesitant to mess with a good thing: the design is essentially the same, except that the 6-cell battery is more flush with the chassis. Under the hood, this machine has the new Atom N450 processor. The best part is that this system promises up to 11 hours of battery life. The priceĀ  hasn’t changed either: it’s still $399.

Will Toshiba’s netbook once again be the one to buy? Read on for our early thoughts, and check out our video walk-through.

Design

Everything we loved about the original NB205 still holds true: the sturdy, metal keyboard with well-spaced keys, the large, low-friction trackpad with twin touch buttons that extend all the way to the lower edge of the palm rest, the 10.1-inch LED-backlit display, and the durable, textured lid (although it will no longer be offered in pink). The current list of colors includes blue, brown, and white.

The biggest difference is that the battery is now nearly flush with the system, meaning it’s tucked underneath and doesn’t jut out of the back. The result is that the bottom of the netbook isn’t flat; in profile, you can see that it slants. Although this seems to be mainly a by-product of making the battery flush, Toshiba also claims it makes the design more ergonomic. From our early hands-on, the change is noticeable, but doesn’t seem like it will adversely affect the user experience. We’ll have a better idea once we test it extensively in a full review. Here’s a side-by-side comparison between the NB305 (left) and the NB205 (right).

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One last detail: the LED lights on the right side of the palm rest have been raised so that they’re more easily visible (previously, they were on the front side, below the lip).

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Specs

The NB305 also has slightly beefier specs than its predecessor: a new Intel Atom Pinetrail CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Starter Edition. It, too, has a six-cell battery., which Toshiba says lasts up to 11 hours. We can’t comment on battery life until we formally test it, of course, but given the original NB205′s impressive nine-and-a-half-hour battery life, we have great expectations. This time around, it weighs 2.6 pounds (the NB205 was 2.8 pounds).

Early Thoughts

Given that the NB305 has all but stuck to the NB205′s superlative design and has done nothing but beef up the specs, we expect we’ll love it as much, or more, than the original. Our biggest questions are: will that ergonomic slant be comfortable for long-term use? And how will it compare to other new netbooks, which likely offer the same specs (often for less money) and may (or may not) have stepped up their game when it comes to design? Stay tuned for our full review to find out.

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  1. ToshibaLaptopBattery Says:

    Very perfect laptop. I like. Many toshiba laptop battery here supply. Give your toshiba laptop a good run.

  2. David Says:

    When they learn to place the tilde in the correct position (at least for a touch-typing American like me), I’ll pay attention. I’ve played with the original in stores. Keyboard is okay (but certainly not good) except that it feels a little odd, which can be expected when they don’t respect key positions.

  3. PCnotPC Says:

    You made such a big deal about the moving of the battery to where it now extends from the underside of the unit rather than the rear, yet not once did you pick up the unit and show us what it looks like. Instead we get four photos of the left side showing us the same thing four times. How difficult could it possibly be to show us all angles of the unit you are discussing!

  4. HessyHess Says:

    I’m wondering about the touchpad… There have been numerous complaints on the Toshiba forums about poor touchpad sensitivity, especially at the edges. I am surprised that this issue was not addressed in several critics’ reviews of the NB200 series. Then again, Alps touchpads on several notebooks have fallen under the similar scrutiny (including Lenovo’s X300/X301).

    I was also hoping for a slightly better resolution, as Windows 7 looks very nice in 120 dpi mode, although windows get cut off in this mode at WSVGA resolution.

  5. Uncle Warthog Says:

    Agree about the key positions on the keyboard. Also, chiclet keyboards are generally bad vs. something with real keys on it. I’ll save my $$ and wait for something with similar specs and a real keyboard.

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