Toshiba Mini NB305: first-look review

ToshibaMiniNB305officialphoto_thumb.jpg Amid all the talk of Toshiba’s stunning Cell TV and how it will turn everything into 3D, the company also quietly announced two brand-new netbooks at CES: the Toshiba Mini NB305 and the Toshiba Mini NB300.While the NB305 isn’t a radical new design in the vein of the MSI Wind U160, there are a number of nice evolutionary touches that make it that little bit more usable and alluring than the Toshiba NB200 range that came before it.

Toshiba Mini NB305: first-look review


The most obvious is the tweaked design. Put the NB305 next to the NB200 – as we have done in the above photo – and you can see that the NB305 is a little more shapely, with a tapered front edge.

Toshiba has made a tiny change to the battery design too, with the slight bump found on the NB200’s battery casing smoothed over. Far more importantly, the NB305 should provide excellent battery life just like its predecessor: Toshiba claims 11 hours, and its claims usually prove true in our tests.


The NB305’s chassis is officially just 3mm wider than the NB200, but we’ll look to verify this when we get a model in for proper testing – if that figure does turn out to be correct, then it’s something of a miracle that Toshiba appears to have made the keys wider and easier to hit. And we already felt that the NB200’s isolated keyboard was the best of its type to be found on netbooks.

Toshiba has also added multitouch to the touchpad, and made it larger in the process. While multitouch implemented this way is unlikely to change your way of working – the main use for now is zooming in and out of documents by “pinching” – it’s still a useful feature that could come into its own as more apps add multitouch support.


One very, very minor irritation of the NB200 was the location of the SD card reader on the front of the machine – not the easiest place to access if a laptop is sitting on your lap on the train, say – so Toshiba has moved it to the left-hand side of the chassis here, along with the Ethernet, D-SUB and one of the three USB ports.


The other two sit on the right-hand side, along with the headphone and microphone jacks, the power input and indeed the Kensington lock – seen in action above.


But arguably the most interesting innovation is the extra software Toshiba has installed. This is the Bulletin Board, which Toshiba describes as a ramped-up version of the sticky notes you plaster on the fridge.


Then there’s Reeltime: what looks to be a simple way to find that document you were working on last week but you can’t quite remember where it was stored. Launch Reeltime and it shows this timeline view of documents: a screenshot of what they looked like (or the program’s icon if, as shown, the original document has been deleted) that you can easily scroll through horizontally.


But the final benefit of the NB305 over the NB200 is its speed. With a better graphics engine courtesy of Intel’s new Pine Trail chipset for netbooks, video will now be much smoother: the key figure above is 3.1 for Graphics, which compares to 2.1 for the NB200.

The rest of the specs are as standard for a newly released netbook: a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450, 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard disk, 1,024 x 768 10.1in screen, Window 7 Starter. It’s a fine combination for a netbook, and with Toshiba UK announcing that the NB305 will be available for sale from the end of January we look forward to getting a sample into our Labs for a full review very soon.

In the meantime, take a look at our first-look video guide to the Toshiba Mini NB305.

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