The right way to design a netbook
Review What is it with Toshiba's designers? Their first netbook, the NB100, was a boxy, angular affair that looked like it had appeared out of a rip in time from 1995. Undoubtedly stung by such criticism, Toshiba's design team have gifted the company's follow up, the NB200, with a much sexier design... only to go and spoil it with a naff colour scheme.
Toshiba's NB200: a much better, slimmer design than its predecessor
Indeed, it's telling that the publicity picture provided by Toshiba are chiefly of the bottom-of-the-line "cosmic black" NB200, not the top-of-the-range "snow white" version - the NB200-110 - we have in front of us here.
The top-end NB200 appeals because it comes with Intel's N280 Atom processor, which consumes the same amount of power as the more commonplace N270, but is 60MHz faster and operates over a 667MHz frontside bus rather than a 533MHz one. We like the N280, and it's our preferred netbook processor.
The NB200 provides the standard 1GB of 800MHz DDR 2 memory, a 160GB hard drive, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and all the customary ports: three USB 2.0 connectors, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, 3.5mm audio I/O, VGA and an SDHC memory card slot. The two top-end models have Bluetooth 2.1+EDR built in, the other three don't.
The screen's a bright and (very) glossy 10.1in, 1024 x 600 job with a 0.3Mp webcam in the bezel. The display is driven by the Intel GMA 950 graphics core embedded in the netbook's chipset. A run of 3DMark06 yielded a score of 90 - poor by notebook standards, but a little higher than most netbooks we've looked at.
Standard netbook hardware, though
We'll talk about the bundled software later, but from a hardware standpoint, the NB200 range's internals match or exceed most of Toshiba's rivals.
Its high time that reviewers in general started saying it like it is. Another netbook, same N270/280, only 1GB of ram, same hopeless 950 GFX, apart from very very minor differences in apps or design, its same old same old. In much of the time, netbooks have changed little, and they keep being rewarded with good reviews. This 'new netbook' costs more than £300, has some of the cheapest BOM and is only a moderate redesign.
Its time, that reviewers started to ask the serious questions.
1. Why are you not butchering these guys for the monopoly practice of adhereing to the microsoft 1GB limit, and hard disk limits. The consumer is suffering under a garbage limit and you are handing them a recommended review.
2. Very minor updates to the Atom don't make a recommended review. Where is ION, or better core system improments, more ram, bigger drives.
3. The netbook struggles with Linux, and you give it a recommended rating?
The hunnymoon is over for netbooks, its time to put the hammer down.
Yet another new netbook that fails to provide a tv-out (S-video/Composite) slot! When will these companies realise how handy a slot like this is?
The fixed prices and specs makes you wonder whether there's really any competition in this market. Perhaps something for Steely Kroes to examine next...?
Horned Bill, because what the heck is he doing dictating how my computer should be specced.
PS: Wouldn't Ballmer be more fitting for the icon than Bill these days?