Toshiba NB305 review
A little more expensive than the average netbook, but then the NB305 is also a little superior
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.
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.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||266 x 193 x 36mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N450|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel NM10|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|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|
|Hard disk usable capacity||233GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Fujitsu MJA2250BH G2|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Front edge|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
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|