By November 16, 2010

Toshiba NB250 Netbook Review

NB250-open-front As the netbook era seems to be drawing to a close Toshiba manages to squeeze out one last option for your mobile computing needs. Sandwiched between the oldie but goodie, NB200 and the king of the heap, NB305, the NB250 lurks in the background like a ninja. Is it Batman, ready for action or Karate dressed in black (that’s an obscure Batfink reference by the way?)

Read on to find out more.

 

What’s in the box?

  • Toshiba NB250
  • Power Cable
  • Setup Guide
  • Beefy manual

 

The ten second review:

  • Device: Toshiba NB250 Netbook
  • Price: £240
  • Summary: A budget option of the Toshiba NB305.
  • Best of: Immense battery life,sexy looks, generous keyboard, large trackpad
  • Worst of: One rubbish speaker, no dedicated Volume control, construction quality, keyboard redesign

Click here to see Matt unbox the Toshiba NB250

 

Toshiba NB250 Specifications:

Processor

Intel® AtomT processor N455

clock speed : 1.66 GHz

Front Side Bus : 667 MHz

2nd level cache : 512 KB

Operating System

Genuine Windows® XP Home 32-bit Edition (pre-installed, Toshiba-HDD recovery)

Memory

standard : 1,024 MB

maximum expandability : 2,048 MB

technology : DDR3 RAM (1,066 MHz)

Graphics

Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 3150

memory : up to 250 MB shared memory with 1 GB system memory installed, and up to 256 MB with 2 GB system memory, (with pre-installed 32-bit operating system)

memory type : shared

LCD Display

Toshiba TruBrite® WSVGA TFT High Brightness display with 16 : 9 aspect ratio and LED backlighting

internal resolution : 1,024 x 600

size: 25.7cm (10.1")

Audio and Speakers

supported audio format : 24-bit stereo

speakers : 1 x built-in speaker

Microphone

1 x external microphone

1 x built-in microphone

Hard Drives

capacity : 160 GB

drive rotation : 5,400 rpm

Optical Drives

External only

Power

lithium-ion up to 8h45min (Mobile MarkT 2007)

Camera

1 x integrated VGA Web Camera

Wireless

Compliancy : Wi-Fi®

Network Support : 802.11b/g/n

Wireless Technology : Wireless LAN

Ports, Slots, Chassis

1 x DC-in

1 x external monitor

1 x RJ-45
1 x headphone (stereo)

1 x integrated VGA Web Camera

3 (Left 1, Right 2) x USB 2.0

1 x Multi-Card Reader (supports SDT Card up to 2 GB, miniSDT/microSDT Card with adapter up to 2 GB, SDHCT Card up to 32 GB and MultiMedia CardT up to 2 GB)

1 x memory slot

Dimensions

W x D x H : 263.0 x 211.5 x 25.4 (front) / 30.75 (rear) mm

Starting weight

1.18 kg

 

 

General

Let’s take the look around the outside.

Front – All the LED indicators you could need. Wifi, mains connection, power, battery, HDD access, memory card access etc. On the left is the microSD card slot.

NB250-front

Left side – VGA, USB, RJ-45, 3.5mm headphones, 3.5mm microphone, exhaust grill

NB250-left

Right side – 2 x USB, power adapter socket and Kensington lock

NB250-right
 

The back as the behemoth of a battery. Whilst this initially seems a bulky and ugly extremity it not only will see the device through 8 hours with ease but it doubles as a handy handle.

NB250-angled

Review

The NB250 is a budget option for their flagship NB305. Toshiba’s netbook family has always been strong point for the company. The NB100 was a great start just a little too late in the game to make any real impact. Quickly followed by the excellent NB200, a netbook I’m proud to say I own. Then more recently the NB305, a higher end, light redesign of the NB200 most notably replacing the N280 processor with an N450. So now we have the NB250 that sounds like a successor to the NB200 without as many frills as you’d expect.

The biggest difference out of the box is that both the NB200 and NB305 run Windows 7 Starter Edition and the NB250 is running Windows XP. This initially feels like a bit of a set back but there is a large community out there who believe that Windows XP is still a superior operating system and runs fantastically on a netbook. They are of course wrong but it was nice taking a trip down memory lane to see how XP is doing these days. Like a bitter pensioner it refuses to go into the nursing home. There is a Windows 7 option however according to Toshiba.

Toshiba have taken great pleasure in tinkering with the operating system and over the years have written a great many enhancements, pretty much all of which they have squeezed onto this device. Some for the better – Toshiba Value Added Package (Toshiba Power Saver, Toshiba Zooming Utility, Toshiba PC Diagnostic Tool, Toshiba Flash Cards, Toshiba Components Common Driver, Toshiba Accessibility, Toshiba Button Support)

Some to annoy you – Toshiba Disc Creator, Toshiba Photo Service, Toshiba Recovery Media Creator, Toshiba Sync Utility Toshiba LifeSpace, Toshiba TEMPRO Performance Tuning Service, Smart Display Support and Toshiba ConfigFree. Amazingly, the added enhancements don’t slow down XP that much, in fact the netbook runs quite smoothly.

The 10.1" screen is quite nice. One of my small gripes about the NB200 is that the bezel is large and feels like a little bit extra could have been added to the screen, the same goes for the NB250. Running at 1024×600 the screen size isn’t exactly standard but is bright and crisp.

For playing back 720p video the netbook will struggle as many netbooks do. Upping the quality on Youtube results in stuttered playback, BBC iPlayer even struggled. So the graphics accelerator isn’t the hottest.

The speaker on the device is, as with previous Toshiba netbooks,  embarrassing. Each time there is a new version of this I hope Toshiba listen to the feedback and work something out, however they don’t. There is no dedicated volume control, you have to use a function button combined with the 3 and 4 key to control the volume. Under heavy loads, like playing back a video, this is unresponsive and sometimes just doesn’t work at all. If you were to do away with the bundled Toshiba software you will loose the ability to control the sound. This also applies to the wifi controls and brightness adjustment.

The battery is the most redeeming feature of the unit. You’ll not have the worry of power on your mind as you can get up to 11 hours run time out of it depending on the load. Standby can last weeks. If you think the protruding cells are ugly then you can pick up the 4 cell battery that sits flush they the back.

NB250-keyboard

 

One of the biggest issues I have with this is the keyboard. Whilst it is a generously spaced, almost fully sized keyboard it isn’t the Toshiba Netbook keyboard that has had people raving over the years. On the NB200 and the NB305 is a beautiful keyboard layout with individual keys with 1cm spacing between each. Typing is fluid on these keyboards. However, the NB250 has a very standard keyboard layout with no spacing in between. In fact the build quality feels sub par, the plastic light and flimsy and the feedback is almost indeterminable. The mouse buttons feel especially light and cheap. The touchpad is, however, large and faultless.

There is a notable area under the battery for a SIM card sort, even will a little depiction of a SIM card beside it. I’m sure a lot of people would prefer to have the ability to use this rather than having a dongle sticking out the side and one can only hope to see something in the future with this slot utilised.

The hard drive is a 160GB SATA drive split into two partitions. An OS partition at 75GB, and a Data partition at 75GB. The Data partition has a HDD Recovery section weighing in at 5GB.

 

Conclusion

The netbook is a little hit and miss. Combining the winning design with some cost cutting methods that do seem to cut too close to the bone Toshiba are just throwing out a budget version of a cost effective unit. You would be better to add the extra £40 and get the NB305, that really is the difference between the prices. You will appreciate that £40 when you type on the keyboard

 

Review by: Gareth

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Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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