Toshiba Mini NB305-N410: Solid but Not Outstanding Netbook
At a Glance
The Toshiba NB305-N410 has decent battery life and a great screen, but its keyboard, while pretty, is a bit of a disappointment.
The Toshiba Mini NB305-N410 is a basic netbook that's pretty solid, with decent specs: a 250GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Starter Edition; however, it is priced a bit higher than similarly configured netbooks. It achieved a performance score of 32 on WorldBench 6--a bit on the slow side, even for a netbook.
Our review unit, priced at $399 (as of 3/29/10), features a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor (with an integrated Intel GPU), 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Starter Edition. It also has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (but no Bluetooth), a built-in microphone and Webcam, and a one-year limited warranty. The system we reviewed is blue, but this model also comes in brown and white.
The NB305-N410 weighs 2.9 pounds (with the battery), and measures 10.5 inches wide by 7.6 inches tall by 1.4 inches thick, with a 10.1-inch widescreen display. That's not terribly heavy by netbook standards, but it was still a little more than I like. However, part of that weight is the battery, which Toshiba claims will give you 11 hours of use (it lasted about 9 hours in PCWorld's tests).
The NB305-N410 isn't the most attractive of netbooks (for sexy, see the Sony Vaio X Series), but it is sturdily built and looks professional despite the color choices. This Mini features a shiny, textured lid and a silver interior finish. The bezel around the screen, while a bit wide, has the same textured pattern as the lid and trackpad, which ties everything together nicely. The battery makes the back end of the NB305-N410 slightly thicker, but it is unobtrusively tucked underneath the chassis. The netbook has three USB ports (including a "sleep and charge" USB port that lets you charge devices while the computer is in sleep mode), an ethernet port, a VGA port, an SD card reader, and audio and microphone jacks.
The keyboard has a good size for a netbook, with chiclet-style keys that are laid out...a bit strangely. Despite the decent size, the keyboard is still a hassle to type on, as the keys are slightly off in their placing and wider than they are tall. The function buttons are absolutely tiny, as is the tab button. The spacebar is small, but functional, and the shift keys are a pretty good size.
The trackpad is absolutely huge for a netbook, and features two separate buttons. Though I appreciate the large size, I found the trackpad's texture made it a bit less sensitive--it was hard to scroll and zoom in smoothly. The trackpad does support multitouch gestures, including two fingers to scroll and pinching to zoom.
The 10.1-inch LED-backlit widescreen has a native resolution of 1024-by-600 pixels, which is average for a netbook. The glossy screen is actually one of the better netbook screens I've seen, and was quite easy to read, even in bright sunlight. Colors are bright and images are sharp, but moving to either side causes some pretty glaring reflections. Viewing screens with dark backgrounds also causes a lot of reflection.
The speakers are located on the bottom of the chassis, which means they're not terribly loud, especially if you're sitting with the netbook on your lap. The sound quality is pretty good; a little tinny, but tolerable. The two speakers let the netbook feature stereo sound.
Video playback on the NB304-N410 is decent. While the Atom N450 processor isn't really up to high-definition playback, I was able to stream a standard-definition episode of Family Guy from Hulu without a hitch, as well as a number of YouTube videos. Full-screen playback, unfortunately, produces a lot of stutter, in both high- and standard-definition videos.
The NB305-N410 comes preinstalled with Windows 7 Starter Edition (that means it doesn't include features such as the ability to change the wallpaper, DVD playback, Windows Media Center, or XP mode), plus Microsoft Works and Skype. It also has some basic trialware--Microsoft Office 2007 (60 days) and Norton Internet Security. Toshiba includes a few of its own apps, such as PC Health Monitor and Eco Utility, which will help you make sure you're using as little power as necessary.
Overall, the Toshiba NB305-N410 is solid. It has a decently sized keyboard (even if it is a bit weird), a great big trackpad, and a very comfortable screen. It's not great for playing back video or listening to music--though the speakers are louder than many netbooks' speakers--and it won't win you a ton of points in the style department. Toshiba also makes a lesser netbook that starts at $349; has a smaller, 160GB hard drive; runs Windows XP; and features a nonchiclet keyboard I actually found easier to use--the Mini NB305-N310.