Size-wise, the NB200-110 is 263mm wide, a dimension determined by the keyboard rather than the screen. Like Asus' new Eee PC 1008HA, the NB200 has widely spaced, calculator-style keys, each of which has a decent travel and a smooth action. There's almost no flex to the keyboard itself. This is a very good netbook keyboard and one that correctly positions the Ctrl key is to the left of the Fn key.
The NB200 has a decent keyboard and a nice, big touchpad
Toshiba has fitted the NB200 with an Alps-made touchpad that, at 78.5 x 40.5mm, is one of the biggest netbook touchpads we've seen. It comes with software to fully customise its operation. In addition to the usual scroll areas on the bottom and right edges, you can set the corners to operate as single-tap buttons, and the top edge of the pad can be used with your web browser for page flipping. The touchpad app provides a host of choices you can apply if you want corners, scroll areas and so on to do something different - or even just turn all this off and enjoy a big touchpad that, for once, means you can leave your mouse at home.
The two buttons are placed below the touchpad, right at the front of the netbook, and they have a nice, soft action that provides sufficient physical feedback to tell you you've clicked on something but doesn't make you feel you need to push with all your might. Press both buttons at once, and the touchpad pops into autoscroll mode. Again, you can turn this off if you don't like it.
The only flaw is the slightly slow, jerky response we noticed, as if the touchpad is dozing off when it's left alone. Fully awake, it works just fine, but every time you start using it there are moments when your finger is moving but the cursor is not. This could get irritating over time. We didn't experience this when we used a mouse, so it's clearly a touchpad issue.
All the NB200 variants come with Windows XP and, as we say, a stack of Toshiba utilities. Among them is an app that warns you every time you so much as gently nudge the NB200 that the machine has consequently had to park the hard drive heads for their protection. Thankfully, you can turn the warning off, but it's nice to know there are accelerometers present watching out for sudden drops and knocks - common occurrences with netbooks, even though this level of disk protection is not.
Adjust the touchpad's many options
Toshiba Power Saver takes over from Windows' own power tools to give you a good degree of device power management, including the CPU, while ConfigFree provides network mapping and diagnostics. There are utilities for formatting SD cards; taking photos and videos using the webcam; and - most useful of all, we suspect - charging USB-connected devices even when the laptop's sleeping.
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?
Tony, I agree with completely. However (and the however is to clarify my own points rather than dispute those that you made).... Oh and I have owned a NC10 for the last year too and adore the thing.
Everyone generally accepts that the netbooks are built to a tight specification framework in order to 1) get the XP licenses from MS and 2) to produce a machine that has longer battery life. So the specs of the new netbooks are virtually identical to the first generation ones as a result. My point was that in spite of the higher high street prices everywhere right now, my full size laptop has come down in price by 25% for the same spec from the same manufacturer and a much better machine coming in at the price I paid two years ago.
So why have we not seen ANY drop in price of the netbooks when specs are largely the same as two years ago?
No the netbook market isn't as mature as the standard PC and laptop market and I totally accept that the reductions in prices may not be able to be as applied so quickly to them, but I bet in 18 months time they will still cost the same and for the same specs.
Yes they are still a niche product, and meet the needs absolutely beautifully of users who work within the specs, but the prices are starting to look a bit silly regardless when you consider the points I made about pricing of other IT hardware. A fact more obvious to those who bought early and are looking puzzled at the new models and prices, but I know several people who were waiting for the new models before they bought a netbook, only to see prices and specs and decide it was unjustifiable. Regardless of the current climate. The decision was made based on not getting anything new two years on for the same price (or more in many cases).
That was my point originally when I said that maybe the bubble has burst. And the netbook market will stagnate if someone doesn't innovate with either technology upgrades or a price drop for current specs to get peoples attention and put a product above others.
Prices are higher than they should be, no question, and it's hard to recommend new netbooks as upgrades. If you already own a netbook, there's little reason to get a new one unless you specifically want a longer-running battery or a larger display.
But there are plenty of people out there who don't own one yet but want a machine that's smaller, lighter and more throw-around than a regular laptop. So what if the latter's only slightly more expensive than a netbook and has a better spec? There's a choice to make between size plus performance and portability plus adequate speed.
I used an Eee PC 701 to report from the Consumer Electronics Show last year. I could do all the tasks I'd put my regular laptop to, but in a much, much more convenient-to-carry form. The trade-off was the small screen, but I could cope. This year I went back to a laptop. Next time I'll be using a 10in netbook.
There are more criteria these days than just the price:performance ratio: size, looks, brand and others factors play. In that case, computers are now like cars - they all get you from A to B, but some do it quickly, others carry more passengers, some are very reliable, others just look cool.