First look: Toshiba Mini NB200

The Toshiba Mini NB200 from the rearHot on the heels of Toshiba announcing its new 10.1in netbook, the NB200, we got a chance to try one in the flesh – or, to be precise, several in the flesh. And they look impressive.

First look: Toshiba Mini NB200

A little confusingly, the Mini NB200 isn’t one new netbook but a range. There’s a plain black offering, which will use a 1.6GHz Atom N270, but Toshiba is also releasing far more stylish versions dressed in satin brown, white, pink and blue – and these will use the marginally faster 1.66GHz N280.

In reality, you won’t see much difference in speed between them day to day, but you will notice the keyboard. While the black version uses a traditional style of key, the other versions include the increasingly popular Scrabble-style keys.

nb200-keyboard-scrabble-428-150x150Some people don’t like these – they’re probably less suited to touch typists, for instance – and we have mixed feelings about Toshiba’s implementation. Due to the restricted height available, the keys feel a little smaller than we’d like, whereas we were quite happy typing on the cheaper, more functional version of the NB200.

When it comes to styling, though, there’s no contest. The brown version of the NB200 looks particularly striking, perhaps because it’s such an unusual colour for a laptop, but whichever of the more luxurious offerings you choose you’ll be impressed: the back of the lid both looks and feels a little classier than your average netbook, thanks to a diagonal ribbed design.

nb200-keyboard-plain-428-mk2-150x150This motif carries through to the interior of the netbook, with the bezel finished in the same pattern and even the trackpad. It’s little design touches like this that make the latest netbooks feel so much more desirable than their price would suggest.

The screen better reflects that price. It’s not poor quality – we didn’t notice any particular grain on white backgrounds, for instance – but the 1,024 x 600 resolution is restrictive. Yes, that’s what we’ve come to expect from netbooks, but with a 10in screen you always hope for more.

The rest of the build quality is to the level we’d expect from Toshiba, and it’s worthy of note that it even includes an accelerometer so that if the laptop falls to the ground there should be a degree of shock protection for the generous 160GB hard disk. Tosh claims it’s the only netbook to include this feature.

nb200-from-the-side-428-150x150And the NB200’s final claim to fame is its battery life: a claimed nine hours under light use, with the six-cell battery (as shown here – the three-cell version sits flush to the rear of the chassis). Even if you buy a version with a three-cell battery, you should be getting 3-4 hours of life.

Toshiba claims the three-cell version of the NB100 weighs 1.1kg, and we estimate the six-cell alternative will add around 200g.

Unlike the NB100, there’s no sign of Linux with any of these models, just Windows XP Home, and with prices starting from £319 inc VAT it’s clearly pitching against the ranges of netbooks available from the likes of the Samsung NC10 and Samsung NC20. Note the coloured members of the range are likely to cost around the £350 mark.

We’ll wait until we get a final production sample into our Labs before we give a decisive verdict, but there’s a lot to like about the NB200 and it shows one thing for sure – Toshiba is getting serious about this growing sector. And not before time.

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