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Toshiba Mini NB305-N600: Style Over Substance

By Yardena Arar
April 11, 2011 06:01 PM ET

PC World - The Toshiba Mini NB305-N600 ($380 as of April 5, 2011) comes from the higher end of Toshiba's two-part netbook family. Nothing if not eager to meet your netbook needs, Toshiba offers its two basic models--the Mini NB300 and NB500 series--in a total of 11 configurations, and figuring out how they differ requires going through spec sheets with a magnifying glass. Of course, specs don't tell the whole story, anyway--and overall, the story isn't that compelling.

For example, despite having a higher-end Intel Atom processor (the dual-core N550 with 512KB of Level 2 cache per core) than its less-expensive sibling, the Mini NB505-N508GN, which has a single-core N450 Atom CPU, the NB305-N600 scored about the same on WorldBench 6--32 to the NB505-N508G's 33. These are pretty poor scores, even for netbooks; you wouldn't want to use these portables for running databases or video editing, and even more routine applications such as browsing or composing e-mail can be sluggish if you're multitasking.

Note that other CPU and memory differences likely contributed to the disappointing performance. The NB305-N600's Atom N550 has a slightly slower clock speed (1.5GHz) than the NB505-N508GN's N450 (1.66GHz). And while both come with a paltry 1GB of RAM, the NB305-N600 also uses DDR3 memory compared with DDR2 on the NB505-N508GN. Both have the same Intel 3150 integrated graphics chipset that can use up to 250MB of that system memory, and both run Windows 7 Starter Edition.

The test scores would undoubtedly improve if you swapped in a 2GB memory module. It might also speed up if, as my colleague Jon Jacobi pointed out in his review of the NB505-N508GN, you uninstalled or disabled at least some of the background processes and startup programs Toshiba insists on loading in its notebooks. The bottom line is that you shouldn't expect better performance for the extra cost of the NB305-N600.

Nor should you look for improved battery life. In our tests, the NB305-N600 ran a few minutes shy of 7 hours, which is fine for a netbook, but not as good as the 7.5 hours the NB505-N508GN managed.

So why might you consider paying some $80 more for the Mini NB305-N600? Good looks, maybe--the brushed black metal keyboard does look classy--and a slightly nicer keyboard in the style that Toshiba calls "raised tile." There's lots of separation between the keys, which does make typing easier, and Toshiba makes good use of the real estate so that most of the keys are full-size (although the tab key lost out here and is just a little stub). And the Synaptics touchpad offers multitouch support.

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Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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