OS tested Ubuntu 10.04.1
Processor Intel Atom N455 (1.66GHz)
Memory 1GB DDR3
Storage 250GB hard drive (5400rpm)
Dimensions 263 x 211.5 x 25.4~30.75mm
Display size 10.1” (1024 x 600)
Expansion Multi-card reader
Pros: Although professionally built, materials are shoddy and the chassis is bulky and quite ugly
Cons: The basic specification is good and battery life is above average on the whole. Comes with Windows
The NB250 is Toshiba’s latest netbook and features Intel’s N455 Atom processor incorporating support for high-speed and low-power-consumption DDR3 RAM. The specification falls in line with the current trend, meaning that it’s up in the upper echelons in terms of netbook performance, yet almost identical to another netbook reviewed recently (like the Acer Aspire One D260), and others currently available on the market.
While it might be one of the more bleeding-edge options, it’s sadly one of the least attractive. To afford to offer the NB250 as a cheaper option to its popular NB305 model, Toshiba has really scrimped on materials. This being the case, it looks rather angular and chunky in appearance and comes across more like a first-generation netbook as opposed to one of the latest breed. Most offensive in this vein is the thick, matt plastic LED screen surround, which takes up far too much space and really advertises Toshiba’s effort to cut costs.
Other ugly touches include the squared-off Scrabble-tile key design and a keyboard layout that manages to be cramped and uncomfortable. This is despite boasting the same proportions as the Aspire One D260, which uses the space to effortlessly create a comfortable typing area.
We’ve never been entirely happy with Toshiba’s chassis either, which adopts an ugly tubular screen hinge with a power button sitting flush in the centre, just below the screen. To make matters worse, an odd ladder-motif raised texture on the back and wrist rest does nothing to enhance its visual appeal. Finally, the Lithium-ion battery stands proud of the chassis’s rear by quite some margin – in short, this is far from a sleek netbook.
That said, the version reviewed here (the NB250-108) boasts a six-cell battery. Since the three-cell version (the NB250-107) is barely any cheaper, it does make good sense to go for the larger battery, but you certainly pay for it in terms of bulk and form. Promised battery life is over eight hours and although it didn’t quite match this in testing, we’d still be confident of it lasting a full day of office-style use.
We were pleased to see that the mouse pointer and accompanying left- and right-click buttons were large and convenient to use, though they were incredibly noisy under operation, creating loud ‘click clack’ sounds while navigating Ubuntu 10.04.1. Though this is fine while sat in a bustling office, it becomes an issue in the more serene setting of your home – friends and partners certainly won’t thank you for browsing the web on the couch while they’re trying to relax.
Despite the ugly surround, the screen on offer is surprisingly good, which is much more akin to what we’d expect from the likes of Toshiba. Adopting LED technology really paid off here with decent and even backlighting and clean, deep colours. It’s certainly not the best screen, but we’re very relieved that Toshiba didn’t take any cheaper options here.
It might be built like a bus, but in most respects the NB250 did perform really well in testing, proving itself suitably snappy and responsive around the web, while word processing and more besides. Picture reproduction was very fair and we didn’t find it too noisy (bar the mouse buttons!) or hot under full load.
It’s fast and responsive for realistic netbook usage and the six-cell battery boasts a good seven or so hours of life, but the shoddy materials, weak keyboard layout and appalling aesthetics are enough to send us looking elsewhere. In short then: solid performance, brick-like appeal.