Outstanding keyboard and decent battery life make for an enticing netbook
Small, highly portable and cheaper than the average laptop, mini-notebook or netbook computers continue to sell by the bucket-load.
Choosing which model to buy, however, isn’t easy – not least because they’re all so similar.
The NB300 from Toshiba doesn’t break this mould, but at 250GB the hard disk is slightly bigger than the average. Other features of the NB300 that are common to most similar computers include both wired and wireless networking, three USB sockets and a memory card reader. Weighing 1.3kg and measuring 266x192x36mm, it’s also small and light, and in line with other netbooks as far as portability goes.
With so little to choose from in terms of specifications, when shopping for a netbook it’s best to pay close attention to features such as battery life and usability. The keyboard is arguably the most important feature, and the NB300 has one of the best we’ve seen. It has a low-profile design with flat keys, which means heavy-handed typists might find it slightly uncomfortable, but thanks to their large size, reasonable spacing and responsive action it was a delight to type on in our tests.
The NB300 earns extra points because of its exceptional battery life. When we ran a ‘worst case scenario’ test with the computer running at full pelt it managed to keep going for nearly five and a half hours – that’s what you might expect if watching downloaded video for all that time, or doing intensive picture editing. When used slightly more sparingly (for example word processing) you can expect anything between six and nine hours’ use – if you go really easy on it (do little more than read text documents, for example), you may even get close to the 11 hours quoted by Toshiba in its marketing materials.
The display’s glossy coating produces vivid colours, but it also makes it prone to reflecting nearby light sources, which hampered outdoor use in particular.
The NB300 doesn’t offer anything particularly groundbreaking compared with the wealth of netbooks already flooding the shelves, but thanks to the impressive keyboard it’s extremely comfortable to use.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are two versions – the one we’re looking at is the NB300-108 and comes with the Starter edition of the Windows 7 operating system, but if you prefer to use Windows XP there’s the NB300-10M, which is slightly cheaper and comes with a smaller 160GB hard disk.
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Excellent keyboard and great battery life make the NB300 a very tempting netbook Good points Well-designed keyboard; long battery life; comfortable to use; plenty of storage; reasonably priced Bad points Glossy screen attracts reflections
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