Review: Toshiba's stylish mini NB205 netbook features a great keyboard

Toshiba's entry into the netbook market is attractive and practical.

The $400 Toshiba mini NB205 is a recent addition to the fleet of netbooks for users who want something small, inexpensive and practical.

What does it do? Like many of the netbooks out there, the Toshiba mini NB205 has an Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory, a 10.1-inch display that runs at 1024 x 600 pixels, a 160GB hard drive and Windows XP. It weighs in at 2.93 lbs. (the power cord adds another 10 oz.), and offers three USB ports and an SD card reader, along with headphone jacks and an Ethernet port. It's available in three colors: sable brown, frost white and royal blue.

What's cool about it? Let's face it; a lot of what distinguishes today's netbooks are the externals -- the display, the keyboard and the look. The NB205 has all three.

Toshiba mini NB205
Toshiba mini NB205

First, the 10.4 x 7.6 x 1.3-inch Toshiba is very stylish, with a sleek, textured skin (which resists fingerprints, something that other netbooks could do well to copy) and a slim, streamlined design. The power key, located in the center of the hinge between the keyboard and the display, glows a rather eerie but pleasing lavender.

But more importantly, the NB205 has one of the best keyboards I've ever used on a netbook. Not only are the keys larger than those you usually get with netbooks, but they have a nice range of give, and appropriate space between the keys. It's not perfect -- the keys are completely flat, rather than slightly concave, so your fingers tend to slip a bit -- but aside from that, it's about as close to a regular keyboard as you can get.

The touchpad is also a bit larger than most, and very comfortable to work with, with nicely sized right and left mouse buttons below it.

The display is bright and extremely clear. The six-cell battery, which is rated by Toshiba has having a life of up to 9.08 hours, lasted 6 hours and 30 minutes while I continually ran Hulu movies -- not bad at all. It does interfere a bit with the style of the product; the battery sticks out from the back at bit, ruining the elegant line of the machine. But it's worth it for the extra battery life.

What needs to be fixed? I was surprised by the audio, which was very tinny -- I actually preferred the sound of my old Asus EeePC 701. Headphones or a good headset is the order of the day if you want to hear decent music.

Final verdict: If you're looking for a reasonably priced netbook that works well and looks good, the Toshiba NB205 should certainly be on your short list.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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