Toshiba waited a long time to enter the netbook market, but as the NB205 proves, taking some time to learn from your competitors can be a good thing. The NB205 offers everything we expect from a netbook, as well as some unexpected bonus features, and does so for less than $400. We liked the NB205 when we used it in our netbook upgrading feature (October); here we give it a full review.
The NB205 has a matte-silver plastic chassis and a textured matte lid, available in blue, pink, black, white, or brown. We appreciate that Toshiba has bucked the glossy fingerprint-magnet trend here. The netbook is solidly constructed, with a color-matched glossy bezel and hinge. The included six-cell battery protrudes about a half an inch beyond the back of the netbook, and is slightly wobbly to the touch, but given the 6:45 (hr:min) battery life, a little wobble doesn’t bother us.
As we discovered in our netbook upgrading feature, both RAM and hard drive are easily accessible, although the hard drive panel uses TORX-6 fasteners rather than the more common Phillips head screws found on the RAM compartment. Still, if you’re ponying up for an SSD or larger hard drive for your netbook, you can probably spare a few bucks for a TORX-6 driver, too.
The NB205 looks good and runs well. But why is the tilde key down between the Alt key and the space bar?
The NB205 sports the standard array of ports: three USB 2.0, VGA, audio jacks, 10/100 Ethernet, and an SD card reader. Remember the bonus features we talked about? One of the USB ports is a Sleep-and-Charge port, so you can charge your phone or other USB-powered gadget even when the computer is off. It’s an addition so obvious we wish more netbook makers included it. We also appreciate the hard drive movement sensor.
The chiclet keyboard is easy to type on—the keys are more widely spaced than most, so you’re less likely to hit the wrong key. It’s not perfect, though—some keys are in strange places (for example, the tilde key is between Alt and the space bar), and pushing too hard on a center key causes the whole keyboard to flex slightly. The touchpad is textured, and as wide as the space bar, while the buttons are responsive and clicky, albeit identical in texture to the chassis.
Because the NB205 has the same guts as every other non-Ion Atom N280 netbook out there, we expected it to perform at least as well as our favorite 10-incher, the Asus Eee 1000HE, and slightly faster than our N270-bound zero-point system, the 12-inch Lenovo S12 (reviewed last month). And it did perform between three and five percent better than the zero point in our Photoshop, MainConcept, and Quake III tests. It’s a nice (if small) boost; the equivalent of winning a 100-meter dash by a hundredth of a second—the netbook world has yet to find its Usain Bolt.
With a lap weight of two pounds, 15 ounces, the NB205 is firmly in the middle of the netbook weight class. Its price, battery life, aesthetics, and performance put it near the top of the current generation, and we appreciate perks like Sleep-and-Charge. It’s one of the best netbooks on the market today. But TORX screws on the hard drive compartment? Toshiba, you were so close.
Excellent battery life; good looks; good performance; competitive price; Sleep-and-Charge USB.
Totally unnecessary use of TORX screws; slightly odd keyboard.
10.1-inch TruBrite Backlit LED@1024x600
1.66GHz Intel Atom N280
160GB HDD (5,400rpm)
Three USB 2.0 (one w/ Sleep & Charge), audio in/out, SD card, VGA, 10/100 Ethernet