But now we have to address the NB200-110's styling. We love the laptop's design, but hate the look. The glossy bezel replicates the lid's diagonal stripe pattern. On the lid it's matte and textured; the bezel alternates white and silver glossy stripes. The NB200's hinge section is shiny chrome-look plastic, while the lower half, the keyboard, the touchpad and buttons, and the base are all composed in silver-sprayed plastic.
The nice black version looks way better than the others...
Frankly, it looks tacky, and only the NB200's good industrial design saves it. If the lid was in silver too, it might work - as it is, it's not consumer sexy or business sharp. You can have a "satin brown" lid which looks very slightly better. Fortunately, the basic black does work, and that would be our choice. But here's the thing: Toshiba doesn't give you a choice. If you want black, you can't have the N280 CPU and/or Bluetooth. If you want the N280 but don't need Bluetooth, your only choice is the brown model. At least there are two black versions, one with the six-cell battery, one with the three-cell job.
Prices range from £319 to £369 - Toshiba is aiming the NB200 more at business buyers than regular consumers. The Bluetoothless NB200-11H is only £2 cheaper than the models with the wireless standard. The six-cell black model - the NB200-11L - comes in at £332, and that would be the version we'd choose.
...but the ugly brown one has a better spec
Toshiba's second attempt at a netbook is a stunning success... almost. The design's superb, the build quality good and the specs decent too. Only the above-par pricing - though you do get a better-than-average software bundle - and the awful colour schemes applied to the higher-end models let the side down. Toshiba: ditch the silver and chrome and you'll have a real winner on your hands. ®
More Netbook Reviews...
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Acer Aspire One D250
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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.