The netbook market is saturated, with nearly every laptop maker offering its own troupe of ultra-portable machines. Toshiba's 10.1-inch NB305 is one of the better examples. It's available now for around £320.
Sleek, svelte, sturdy
The first thing to note about the NB305 is that it's sleeker than its predecessor, the NB200, thanks to a smaller motherboard and Intel's diminutive Atom N450 processor. The six-cell battery doesn't stick out from the back like a sore thumb, so it doesn't ruin the effect of the machine's svelte dimensions.
The 10.1-inch chassis weighs only 1.3kg and sports one of the best keyboards we've seen on a netbook. It runs almost all the way from the left edge of the machine to the right. There's space between the keys, and we managed to type without accidentally hitting the wrong buttons, which makes a pleasing change from the norm.
The NB305 is generally beautifully designed. The silver casing looks great combined with the grooved, metallic-brown lid. This netbook is sure to get noticed by envious road warriors when you take it out and about.
The NB305 is also pleasingly sturdy -- nothing feels like it will snap off in your hand. In fact, the NB305 feels like it would survive a nuclear war, and, surprisingly, it doesn't seem to pay the price for this in terms of increased weight and size.
The only thing we don't like about this machine's design is the presence of nine embedded function lights on the front edge. It feels like overkill.
The NB305 offers typical netbook specs and features, including Intel's next-gen, 1.66GHz Atom N450 CPU, 1GB of memory (you can upgrade this to 2GB), and a 250GB SATA hard drive. It also packs a modest Intel GMA 3150 graphics card, and the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Starter.
The NB305's 1,024x600-pixel screen falls short of offering a HD Ready resolution. It's still decent though, as it's not too reflective and colours look good.
No performance surprises
The NB305's performance is pretty much par for the netbook course. It achieved a PCMark05 benchmark score of 1,272 and a predictably rubbish 3DMark06 score of 156. That means it's suitable for basic tasks like checking emails, surfing the Web and editing documents, but playing the latest 3D games is out of the question.
Toshiba says the NB305's battery will last for around 11 hours before it needs recharging. In Battery Eater's Classic test, which runs the CPU at full tilt until the battery dies, the NB305 lasted for around 5 hours and 51 minutes. That's an impressive figure, and you can expect it to last even longer under normal usage conditions.
The NB305 is a worthy addition to Toshiba's netbook range. Its performance won't shatter your brain into a thousand pieces, but this machine is robust and comfortable to use, while also offering good battery life. Factor in the chic design, and it's a decent all-round package.
Edited by Charles Kloet