An 8.9in, WIndows XP-based netbook
- 1kg, Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, screen tilts all the way back
- Cramped keyboard is hard to type on, screen is susceptible to reflections, touchpad buttons are uncomfortable, Sleep-and-Charge is not enabled by default
The NB100 is a little overpriced, but it is a solid little unit with Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, which are very convenient while travelling. It could use more RAM and a solid-state drive; a version with Linux installed would be pretty sweet, too.
Price$ 715.00 (AUD)
Toshiba's NB100 is a Windows XP–based, 1kg netbook that is a little over-priced but well built and with some good functionality. It's one of the best options on the market for travellers; users who want a portable unit to watch videos and listen to music while on the move will definitely appreciate it.
Like most recent netbooks, the NB100 is based on Intel's Atom N270 CPU, which runs at 1.6GHz and is Hyper-Threaded. It has only 1GB of RAM (it has a 1GB So-DIMM installed) and integrated graphics, but it was very responsive when it came to launching programs and navigating Windows menus. It recorded a time of 8min 10sec while encoding 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, which is five seconds slower than the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, but it actually felt more responsive than that unit.
The NB100 is perfect for watching DivX-encoded videos while on the go. It played video files smoothly and its screen is bright enough to allow you to watch movies while outdoors on a bright day — but not in direct sunlight, of course.
Its 8.9in screen has a native resolution of 1024x600 and it has a glossy finish. This means it is prone to reflections, depending on the angle you are viewing it from; the notebook's hinges allow the screen to tilt all the way back until it lies flat, and unit's balance is perfect. It won't fall off your lap as you lean the screen back. The screen can tilt all the way back despite the unit's battery sticking out of the rear by 14mm. The battery sits securely in its slot, and can even be used as a grip when you are carrying the unit.
The NB100 has a keyboard width of 21.2cm. Although Toshiba has squeezed in all the keys featured in a standard US layout, the keyboard is cramped and will require plenty of practice in order to get used to it. Having thin fingers and short nails will also be a plus. Typing for long periods will be tiring, so you'll be forced to keep all your juicy e-mails and blog updates about your current adventures short.
Another aspect of the NB100 that is uncomfortable is its touchpad, which has depressed keys that are hard to press. Also, the left-click button is longer than the right-click button.
While using the NB100 for typical tasks such as creating documents and browsing the Web it won't make too much noise, but it will get warm. Its fan will noticeably kick in when the CPU is running at 100 per cent, and it will spit warm air at a rapid rate from its right-hand extraction vent. The heat on the NB100's underbelly is noticeable when you use it in your lap, and this is due to the CPU and the conventional spinning hard drive that Toshiba has used. It's not overly warm, but it will be unpleasant in warm weather after you have been using it for a few hours.
A netbook of the NB100's size would benefit from a solid-state drive, and also a 'lighter' operating system than Windows XP — an NB100 with a 16GB or 20GB SSD and Linux would be a sweet prospect.
Nevertheless, for travellers the NB100 is perfect, and the conventional hard drive is one of the reasons. It allows for plenty of photos, music and videos to be stored as you hop continents. Not only that, but the unit is small and light, and it also offers Sleep-and-Charge USB ports. These are useful for charging your USB devices while you are on the road — you don't even have to switch on the netbook to make them work. Simply plug in your phone or MP3 player and leave it charging while it's in your backpack. It's a feature that can't be found on any other netbook on the market.
However, this feature is not enabled by default; there are two modes to select from in the BIOS: mode 1 and mode 2. Mode 1 didn't work with our Creative Zen when we plugged it in to any of the unit's three USB 2.0 ports, and mode 2 only worked on one of the two ports on the right side.
In our battery test, the NB100 looped DivX-encoded video files for 2hr 17min with the screen at its maximum brightness. This is similar to what the Acer Aspire One ZG5 (Linux) achieved, but the NB100 has a physical hard drive and a slightly more powerful battery.
The NB100 is a little overpriced. For over $700, it should have 2GB of RAM, and even a solid-state drive. Nevertheless, it's a convenient little unit for everyday usage, especially while travelling.
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