OS Tested: Ubuntu 10.04 NBR
CPU:Intel Atom N450 (1.6GHz)
Memory: 1GB DDR2
Display: 10.1” (1024×600)
Dimensions:266 x 192 x 36mm
Expansion: SD card, 3x USB, Wi-Fi, webcam
Supplied by: Buyitdirect.co.uk
Pros: It’s a pleasing design with some of the best netbook technology on the market
Cons: The glossy chassis smears easily and the lack of Bluetooth may cause problems for some
The netbook market has moved beyond its infancy and most manufacturers have now found their feet. Like the well-entrenched notebook scene, the market’s biggest netbook makers have hit upon their preferred technology combination and standardised designs have been cropping up over the last couple of generations. Since Intel’s N450 Atom processor boasts such excellent power-saving capabilities over previous chips (courtesy of its integrated graphics processor and improved manufacturing process), it has powered almost all netbooks released in the same period – Toshiba’s mini NB300 was no exception.
Like many of its kin, its 1.66GHz processor complete with Intel IGP is accompanied by 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 250GB hard drive and a 10” screen. With such similar specification cropping up everywhere, the buying decision often comes down to build quality, battery life and simple user preference.
As we’ve come to expect from Toshiba over the years, its NB300 offers excellent build quality. The chassis is solid and attractive and the finish is very glossy. Be warned, however: it picks up fingerprints like they’re going out of fashion. We weren’t fans of the power button placement (in the middle of the ‘rod’ connecting the main body to the screen), but that may be a case of personal preference. The keyboard is very well laid out, opting for large 18mm Qwerty keys that dominate the space. This leads to some cramping of function keys, but nothing too detrimental.
Thought it’s unfortunate to see it only features 1GB of RAM, in the NB300’s defense it’s great to see a netbook that actually allows for quick and easy memory upgrades. Usually a netbook needs to be almost completely dismantled before getting to the memory slots (Acer’s otherwise excellent Aspire One is a prime example, needing at least an hour and some heart-stopping manoeuvres to complete), but this is like a standard laptop. On the downside, there’s only a single memory slot, so you’ll need to swap the existing 1GB DIMM with a 2GB replacement if and when you want to upgrade.