Toshiba's NB305, the big brand's new miniature marvel

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This article appeared in the June, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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Toshiba's NB305, the big brand's new miniature marvel

Toshiba's previous netbook, the NB200, dared to be different. With classy looks that immediately set it apart from the budget-priced pack, it won many friends. Now, Toshiba has put its miniature marvel under the knife, fused Intel's Pine Trail into its DNA and produced the NB305.

It's a fine figure of a netbook: textured channels sweep across the matte white lid, and there's a shiny silver hinge gleaming at its edge. Open it up and you'll see a pinstriped white pattern surrounding the glossy display, contrasting nicely with the all-grey keyboard beneath. The new wedge design makes it noticeably more sleek and streamlined than its predecessor too.

That keyboard hasn't changed a jot, and while the squat, Scrabble-tile keys look and feel a little strange at first, it's easy to get used to them. We found ourselves typing away almost as quickly as we could on the larger CULV laptops. The trackpad is equally good, providing accurate cursor control and buttons.

The NB305's display is still hamstrung by the usual 1024 x 600 pixel resolution, but image quality is up with the best netbooks here. Colours pop off the screen in a lively fashion and there's good contrast too. The only negative aspects were a tendency to wash out brighter parts of images, and a faint crosshatching effect.

There's no problem with battery life, with the NB305 managing 8hrs 41mins away from the mains, and where the NB200's battery jutted a couple of centimetres out of the rear, Toshiba has now reduced it to a subtle bulge on the underside.

And it doesn't stop there. Toshiba has not only packed in all the usual premium netbook features such as 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth, but has also added neat features such as shock protection for the hard disk - an excellent addition for a netbook - and an always-on USB port that allows you to charge USB devices without switching on the NB305.

Toshiba even manage to combine all these positive points with a decent price, and this just about swings things in its favour this month. There's no avoiding the fact that you don't have to spend much more to get a more powerful, more capable CULV laptop, but the NB305 is the best netbook on test.

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