Verdict

Toshiba nb250

Toshiba's NB250 is a perfectly fine netbook. It's solidly constructed, it doesn't look too offensive, and – like every other netbook – it doesn't push any boundaries basically by definition. If you're in the market for a portable PC it is a great choice, probably better than an Android tablet or the Apple iPad given its potential range of functionality. It's not as cool, though, or as simple to whip out at any opportunity.

Being a netbook, it's quite hardy, too. Even though this machine first hit the market in mid-2010, it stands up today, and it'll stand up in a year's time.

That's because you won't be asking too much of it; as long as you're not looking to play games or do anything more than running office applications or internet browsing, it's perfectly adequate.

We liked

The NB250's keyboard is an absolute joy to use. It's super-wide, particularly for a netbook, and the keys are solid and (mostly) well laid out. The trackpad is similarly good, definitely amongst the best we've used. If you're considering a netbook because of its range of input options, this is great.

Toshiba has laid out the ports very well, with a couple of USB ports on the right and everything else on the left. It just makes sense if you're right handed and you might want to plug in a mouse.

The price is definitely right in comparison to the parallel tablet market. Pick up a tablet for £225 and you'll be stuck with something like the seven-inch Creative Ziio.

And the battery life? Amazing. An easy eight hours, which makes the NB250 a plausible companion to a bigger laptop if you're constantly running out of charge.

We disliked

The screen is pretty poor, without a coherent good viewing angle; the colours aren't consistent, and there's really no way to use it without noticing its shortcomings. 600 pixels isn't quite enough height for a web browser, either.

Some slightly annoying decisions have been made with the layout of the keyboard – the right shift key doesn't stretch all the way to the edge, for example. Get used to pressing Page Up instead.

Toshiba has also loaded the NB250 with shovelware. Yes, complaining about shovelware is entirely pointless, but it's there and it annoyed us. This is a low-powered machine, so the less detritus running the better.

Verdict

Toshiba has put together a decent netbook at a decent price with the NB250. It's solidly built and completely unrevolutionary, like any netbook should be, but it's also evidence that this sector of the market is far from deceased. If, for some reason, you're convinced you need a tablet PC for light mobile working and web browsing, you need your head checked.

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