In Review – The Toshiba NB 505 and NB305

Toshiba is a quality company that has been around for many years. Unfortunately, they often get left behind with brands like Dell and HP doing all of the grunt work in terms of marketing and promoting things like netbooks. While I’ve never personally owned a Toshiba netbook, I’ve borrowed a few from friends over the years as they’ve gained popularity and would like to share some of my insights about their quality and which ones have stood out in terms of being winners.

The Names

Unfortunately, Toshiba hasn’t gotten the memo about how to name products so that they’re easier to remember. People remember things like the EEEPC because it’s a brandable name. Toshiba went with things like “NB305” and “ NB505” for their product names. Luckily, the name doesn’t do anything to detract from the quality of the products.

The Toshiba NB505

By far the best selling and most appreciated Toshiba netbook is the NB505, as was mentioned above in critique for the poor name.

Specifications

  • 1.66 gigahertz Intel Atom processor
  • 1GB of DDR2 RAM (667MHz, expandable to 2GB)
  • 1024×600 native screen resolution on a 10.1” widescreen monitor
  • 250GB SATA Hard Drive
  • Geniune Windows 7 32bit Operating System
  • 8 Hour Lithium Ion Battery

Experience

When my friend Tim lent me his NB505 over the weekend while he was out of t own, I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do with it. He told me I should just “check it out” for a little while and see what I thought. I’ve always been a desktop PC guy, so I thought I may as well try and bring it around town with me for the weekend to try and get some work done on the go.

The first thing you’ll notice about the laptop is how light it is. Weighing in at just 3 pounds, it’s easy to toss it into a backpack (which is exactly what I did) or a purse for the day. Not only was it lightweight, it was also pretty thin. There are some extendable feet that are on the bottom of this Toshiba netbook that let you stand the computer up a little higher so that the keyboard tilts towards you. A nice feature, but pretty unnecessary for me.

My Favorite Parts

Since I didn’t actually own the computer, I couldn’t take too much advantage of the hard drive to vouch for how fast it was when accessing large files. What I did see of the data access though was pretty snappy considering this is only a 5400RPM hard drive.

There are 3 USB ports and an SD card slot that I got full use out of, as I’m an avid photographer. I didn’t think I’d be able to upload photos to my computer and the web while I was out just taking a few shots one afternoon, but I could. My camera’s SD card read quickly and the NB505 was able to scan all of my images and copy them over in a snap. The long battery life also helped that afternoon considering how much work I was doing. Obviously, the 8 hour claim that Toshiba makes is a little inflated. If you’re going to be using the high res monitor like me and copying a whole bunch of photos over (using the computer to its max), you’re looking realistically at about 5 or 6 hours of battery time. I wasn’t out long enough to see how long the battery would go for, but I did manage to get a good 4 or so hours out of it without any problems.

In a sort of additional note that I didn’t know how to throw in anywhere else, I’d like to give big kudos to the keyboard designer. My problem with netbooks has always been the keyboard size. I don’t like fumbling around with function keys and ALT keys to get what I want. I’m used to a full keyboard and the Toshiba delivered.

The Not so Hot

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Toshiba. The 1GB of RAM is kind of a joke. Most operating systems and computers need a minimum of 2GBs of RAM to operate decently these days, so Toshiba skimping out on an extra stick of RAM seems a little cheap. Luckily, RAM isn’t too expensive to buy and you can easily get another stick if you need to. The lack of RAM also leads me to my next point….Windows 7.

I’m a big fan of Windows 7 on the desktop, but I’ll admit that it doesn’t port over well to the netbook world. The laptop does meet the minimum specifications of the operating system but fails to run it well. Things are slow to load sometimes, so it’s difficult to stay super productive when you want to have all of your favorite programs open at once. Again, this problem can be fixed with some additional RAM.

The Little Cousin: The Toshiba NB305

Almost identical to the NB505, the  NB305 differs with a slightly slower processor and a stick of DDR3 RAM instead of the DDR2 in the NB505. The computer is the same size as its big cousin, but features the standard netbook keyboard that doesn’t play too nicely with fingers and wrists. If you’re going to be typing a lot, the NB505 is the much better option.

I’ve never had any personal experience with the NB305, but there do seem to be some occasional problems. I’m not sure what happened to the build quality from generation to generation, but this one seems to have a few more problems than its cousin. If you’re looking for a faster machine though, and don’t want to shell out too much extra cash (you’ll want to get a warranty through Amazon or whoever you purchase from), the NB305 is the way to go. As soon as I can find a friend with the NB305 I’ll get some opinions together and update this post. Until then, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. We do our best around here to answer them as quickly as possible, so don’t be shy!

 

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