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Toshiba NB305 review

Verdict

A little more expensive than the average netbook, but then the NB305 is also a little superior

Review Date: 19 Feb 2010

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £268 (£315 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

While many netbooks blur into an identikit haze, one proving all but indistinguishable from another, Toshiba’s NB200 was one of the few which dared to buck the trend. Now, like every other netbook manufacturer around the world, Toshiba has given its netbook darling a lick of paint, toned down the less attractive bulges around its figure and added Intel’s latest Atom processor for good measure. Behold, the Toshiba NB305.

It’s still unmistakably familiar, Toshiba’s logo boldly emblazoned across the grooved, cream white lid, but the NB305 has emerged both sleeker and sexier than its predecessor. The battery, a once unsightly blemish jutting out from its rear, now softens into a gentle bulge on the underside, a choice which tilts the NB305’s keyboard forward just a tad. The rest of the makeover is more subtle, but no less effective. The once lumpen base softens into a wedge-like design, its chamfered corners and thin front edge cutting a more stylish dash.

The temptation to fiddle just for the sake of it might have been simply too much for some manufacturers, but Toshiba has studiously left the NB200’s keyboard well alone. Those wide, squat keys look odd, but give them a chance and you’ll be glad you did. Keys fall under the finger with refreshing ease, and the spacious layout and good feel are the making of the NB305. Even the wide trackpad and large, individual buttons beneath are significantly better than many of the netbooks on the market.

As the priciest model in Toshiba’s netbook lineup, the NB305 also boasts 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth, while all the usual ports and connectors are in evidence. Three USB ports adorn the NB305’s flanks, while an SD card reader, a D-SUB output (no, there's still no HDMI) and a cluster of useful status lights are dotted around elsewhere. There’s even a motion sensor to park the hard disk’s drive heads when vibration is detected: a decidedly sensible feature for a netbook.

Toshiba NB305

It’s not that the NB305 doesn’t suffer from the usual netbook afflictions. The 10.1in display, for instance, is just as cramped as ever thanks to its 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution. Image quality certainly isn’t a problem, though: the glossy finish gives images plenty of punch and colours are about as vibrant and well-handled as you’ll find on any netbook currently on the market.

Intel’s Pine Trail platform is also a bit of a damp squib in real-world terms: there’s no more performance on tap than with the previous generation Atom platform and not even a sniff of extra grunt in the graphics department. You can wave goodbye to HD video from YouTube or iPlayer for a start. A result of 0.31 in our benchmarks drums home the message: set your sights on basic tasks such as internet, email, perhaps a little music, and you won’t come away disappointed.

Some might complain that Windows 7 Starter has to take some of the blame for sapping the Atom’s already limited horsepower, but we’d struggle to justify a return to the days of XP Home. Microsoft’s stripped-down version of Windows 7 feels snappy enough in use, and the slick interface and supreme ease-of-use really are a great match for a low-powered netbook. It doesn’t seem to affect battery life badly either, the NB305 managing to last 8hrs 41mins in our light use battery tests before finally expiring.

Many netbooks can match the Toshiba NB305 when it comes to features, performance or battery life, but it’s the Toshiba’s all round panache and pleasing usability which nudges it a whisker ahead of the netbook pack. Admittedly, such accomplishment comes at a higher price, but we think the extra is eminently worth paying.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

But what sets it apart?

Sounds good, but is this really any better than the other Pine Trail netbooks, for example the Samsung N210 or the Samsung N220?

By jezza101 on 25 Feb 2010

Comparison requested

Yes I'd like to see this go head to head with the new Samsung range (the NB30 in particular) too.

By moocifer on 4 Mar 2010

Comparison please!

I agree, I would like to see the Samsung n210 and the Toshiba nb305 compared.
I am currently deciding between these two.
I am leaning towards the Samsung. They are v similar spec-wise. The Samsung's matt screen is swaying me.

By Raypa on 1 Apr 2010

Problems in Linux

Warning: Toshiba do not support Linux, and the NB305 currently has problems with the display. The brightness cannot be changed, and if the screen is turned off while suspended, it will not switch back on.

By spaceLem on 16 Apr 2010

Win7 Starter - Don't do it!

I've got the Samsung N210 - its a nice machine with hyperspace allowing me to load up Linux at boot, when I want to, which by the way loads in a flash, compared to waiting almost a minute and a half, to get to the log on screen and then a further minute before you can actually start a browser, and the problems are not just at startup, running media player takes forever at times, the explorer crashes or freezes - very often, tbh - you're better off with either Linux or XP on these machines. - The Atom is too lightweight - or maybe you need 2gb instead of 1gb. Just give it a test in the shops and see for yourself - boot it up there and then and run a few apps.

By nicomo on 17 May 2010

Win7 Starter - Do do it!

Ok, we all know that most machines arrive with rubbish installed, startup options etc that are not reuqired and things that should be turned off. Windows search/indexing for instance.

'nicomo' above is the 'I have linux so I'm superior' type of person while not realising that most people don't actually care and simply want to use Windows and again, get used to the start speed.

Standard people could also replace the slow hard drive with an SSD if they wanted faster start times.

2Gb would also be a VERY good idea on any machine. (As readyboost will try to cache your favourite apps at startup. (I wonder if nicomo knows this)

P.s. There's nothing wrong with Linux (Especially Ubuntu)

By rhythm on 2 Jul 2010

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