Thursday, February 11, 2010
My new netbook: first impressions
I've had my new Toshiba NB305 netbook for a whole day now, and am liking it mightily.
1. It weighs just 2.6 pounds, or 3.1 pounds with the power block and cable. (I ordered a $1.88 12-inch "figure 8" power cable from Cyberguys to replace the long cable that goes from outlet to block. That'll save some weight as well as snarls.)
2. The keyboard suits me. It's a "chiclet" keyboard like that on the Macs, which I'm used to. The key travel is fairly deep, with a satisfying click. Yes, the keyboard's not as big as normal ones, but it's big enough, and I have small hands.
3. It has more than adequate power. The Atom N405 processor runs at 1.67 megahertz, about what a fast laptop did in 2001-2002. That's fine for word processing, surfing the Net, looking at photos and the like. I wouldn't try using powerful photo processing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop on it, but the free basic photo programs such as FastStone or Irfanview work fine.
4. The 250 gigabyte hard drive makes the laptop an excellent traveling storage device for photographs, and FastStone lets me look at the photos, too. (I'll process the photos with Lightroom on my Macbook and Mac mini.)
5. The small screen is far sharper and brighter than I had expected. It's wide enough for most Web sites, although a bit shallow.
6. This is just a subjective opinion, but the Toshiba looks and feels substantial, not flimsy and plasticky.
1. The $399 price for this computer isn't all you're going to spend. You'll need an external DVD burner for system backups and loading software that can't be downloaded; that's $50 more right there. Also, while 1 gig of RAM is adequate for most tasks, the computer will run faster with 2 gig. A 2 gig chip costs another $50. Add a protective neoprene netbook sleeve for $20, and suddenly you've got a $520 computer. (But this is true of all netbooks, not just the Toshiba.)
2. The Toshiba, like most computers, comes with an annoying lot of pre-loaded crapware -- trial versions of software such as Microsoft Office and Norton Antivirus that expire after 60 days. I spent two hours yesterday zapping the crapware and replacing it with my preferred programs -- all of them free.
Absolutely no buyer's remorse.