While others manufacturers wasted no time in jumping on the netbook bandwagon, Toshiba has taken an absolute age to get its own Intel Atom-powered machine on the market. But, with the NB100, has Toshiba learned from the mistakes of others or simply repeated the sins of the past?
Four versions of the NB100 are available. The low-end NB100-11R costs around £220, while the highest-specced NB100-139 costs around £350. Here we review the £285 NB100-128.
Instead of opting for the playful, toy-like styling of the Asus Eee PC range, Toshiba has given the NB100 a much more professional-looking design. Our model sported a stylish, glossy, champagne-coloured lid, combined with a more sober matte black finish on the screen bezel and keyboard.
The 8.9-inch display is also a departure from the netbook norm, as it uses Toshiba's TruBrite technology. This means the screen is lit by an LED backlight and has a glossier finish on the front. Both help the display to produce richer and more vivid colours, making it ideal for watching video clips or viewing photos.
The NB100 follows the usual netbook specification quite closely, with a 1.6GHz Atom processor backed up by 1GB of RAM -- enough to comfortably run Windows XP -- and a fairly roomy 120GB hard drive.
Unfortunately, the netbook refused to complete our PCMark05 tests, but, in terms of day-to-day use, it performed pretty much in line with the other 1.6GHz Atom-equipped netbooks that we've used recently. This means it's fine for emailing and Web surfing, but hasn't really got the grunt for more taxing tasks, like playing back 720p high-definition video files. It's exceptionally quiet during use, with very little fan noise audible.
The NB100 also performs well in terms of battery life. In Battery Eater's Classic test, the four-cell power pack managed 3 hours and 10 minutes, which is fairly impressive.
When we opened up the NB100, we couldn't help but notice that the keyboard and chassis look and feel quite plasticky. Also, as Toshiba has gone with a small 8.9-inch screen, there's very little room for the keyboard and trackpad, with the result that both feel quite cramped.
You'd need to be nuttier than squirrel poo to buy a netbook for gaming, and the NB100 is no exception to the rule. In our 3DMark05 test, it racked up a score of just 98, which means that there's no hope of playing any modern 3D games at any kind of decent frame rate.
In some respects, this netbook offers decent connectivity. For example, alongside Wi-Fi support, you also get three USB ports, a VGA output for connecting it to an external monitor or projector, and an SD card reader. But Toshiba has committed the unforgiveable sin of omitting support for Bluetooth. This means you won't be able to wirelessly connect the NB100 to a 3G mobile phone for mobile-broadband access on the move. You could always use a mobile-broadband USB stick instead, but it's a more ungainly solution.
The Toshiba NB100 has decent battery life and a good-quality screen, but it's let down by a cramped keyboard and lack of Bluetooth support. With so many high-quality netbooks vying for your attention at the moment, the NB100 doesn't really offer anything that makes it stand out.
Edited by Charles Kloet