The Toshiba NB300 is a 10in netbook with a slim frame, a long battery life and an advanced Sleep-and-Charge USB port.
The Toshiba NB300 is an almost perfect netbook for travellers thanks to these features, but even students and business users who are in the market for a tiny laptop should consider the NB300. However, it's not a very fast netbook - its hard drive, in particular, is a bit of a slow coach - so don't expect it to be anything more than a convenient tool for web browsing, creating office documents and watching standard-definition videos.
Toshiba NB300: Specs and speed
The Toshiba NB300 comes equipped with an Intel Atom N450 CPU, which runs at 1.66GHz and has Hyper-Threading. It's a much more advanced CPU than the Intel N280 CPU in previous generation netbooks - it has integrated graphics and memory controllers - but it's not faster. The NB300 will perform just like any other netbook on the market and, in fact, it's actually a little slower than the Toshiba NB200, which it replaces.
In the iTunes MP3 encoding test - in which we encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s - the Windows 7-based Toshiba NB300 recorded a time of 7min 46sec, which is 11sec slower than the Windows XP-based NB200. It's not much of a difference in the overall scheme of things, but it shows that even though the NB300 is a new-model netbook with a slightly different body kit and engine, it provides almost the same amount of horsepower. While using it for everyday tasks it sometimes feels sluggish, particularly when launching programs and switching windows. You just have to remember not to do too much at the same time.
The rest of the configuration is 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, integrated (in CPU) Intel GMA 3150 graphics and a 250GB hard drive. We wish it had 2GB of RAM instead - which is the maximum it can handle - but it can be upgraded easily in the future; all you have to do is remove the cover of the single memory slot. Hard drive upgrades aren't as easy, as Torx screws have been used on its cover and it can't be opened unless you have a star-shaped screwdriver to hand.
This is a shame as the Toshiba NB300's hard drive turned out to be slow in our tests - even by netbook standards. The drive returned a transfer rate of 18.92 megabytes per second in our tests, which is 2-3MBps slower than the average. A solid-state drive would be a very sweet upgrade for this netbook if you don't require a mountain of storage; as it would make the NB300 a little lighter, improve the battery life slightly, and, depending on the type of SSD, it would be faster.
Toshiba NB300: Standout features
A 3D accelerometer is installed to help detect excessive movement and park the hard drive heads to prevent loss of data. It's very sensitive by default - even vigorous typing can set it off - but you can turn down the sensitivity so that the hard drive isn't always stopping and starting.
One of the best features of the Toshiba NB300 is its Sleep-and-Charge port. It can be used to charge MP3 players and phones with USB connections, even iPhones. That means you can leave your netbook switched off in your backpack and plug in your iPhone to charge it. It's a great feature for when you're on the road. It was available in the NB200, but it's even more useful in the NB300 because the standard battery it ships with is so much bigger.
Toshiba NB300: Battery life
The Toshiba NB300 has a 6-cell battery with a 61-Watt hour rating and it managed to last 5hr 2min in our rundown test. In this test we disable power management, enable the wireless radio, maximise the brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video until the battery completely drains. By lowering the brightness and switching off the wireless radio you will be able to get more life out of the netbook; you could potentially watch up to three two-hour movies while you're on a plane, for example.
Toshiba's 'Eco' mode can also be used to prolong the battery life when you're not using it as a video player. It will dim the screen and switch off the hard drive when it's not in use, as well as institute sleep mode and switch off the screen after predetermined idle periods. It even comes with a utility that graphs your power usage and carbon footprint.
The worst part about the long battery life is that the critical battery alarm is set to go off when the capacity reaches 10 percent. The problem is that 10 percent of the battery's capacity is 49min (according to Windows 7's notification) so you'll want to go into the custom power settings and switch off the alarm.
Even though the Toshiba NB300 is slimmer than the NB200 netbook it replaces, the big battery means that it weighs a little more: 1.25kg compared to 1.1kg. This is a good compromise and shouldn't be seen as a downside, especially since the NB300 is still very easy to carry with you everywhere you go.
NEXT: user comfort >>