Toshiba NB305 review

19 Feb 2010

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

Price when reviewed: 
315(£315 inc VAT)
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £268
Price inc VAT £315
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 266 x 193 x 36mm (WDH)
Weight 1.360kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N450
Motherboard chipset Intel NM10
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 3150
Graphics card RAM 0MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Fujitsu MJA2250BH G2
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 5,600mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 41min
Battery life, heavy use 4hr 44min
Overall application benchmark score 0.31
Office application benchmark score 0.31
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.34
Encoding application benchmark score 0.30
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.28
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition