Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Saturday Review: Toshiba Netbook

Toshiba Mini-Notebook (netbook)
10.1" screen
Intel Atom processor N455
2 GB memory (upgraded from 1 GB)
250 GB hard drive
Intel Integrated Graphics
Equipped with: full-size keys, touchpad, integrated webcam and mic
OS: Ubuntu Netbook Edition

As much as I loved Lappy, he was kind of a pain in the butt.  That particular model had webcam issues, so my webcam worked for about 2 1/2 uses and died.  I mounted an external webcam on the top when I needed to use one, but it was very frustrating and often fell off.  The battery had an extremely short life, even in the beginning, and only got steadily worse as time went on.  Then, Sullivan chewed through the power cord and I had to buy a generic compatible one as they no longer sold the actual cord.  This eventually led to Lappy's internal combustion and I was forced to buy my new netbook.

Sullivan looks on in horror as Lappy is gutted for parts.
When Kris suggested I get a netbook, I was against it at first.  I wanted to be able to have computer functionality and my understanding of a netbook was that it only provided the most basic functions and was similar to a smart phone or tablet.  As I read, I found out that this was not the case.  Netbooks have most of the capabilities of a full-size laptop, but simplified and streamlined.

I read up on netbooks and decided on the Toshiba mini-notebook based on positive CNET reviews.  The Toshiba is lightweight and sleek.  Previous models were described as having a bulky and protruding battery, but Toshiba seems to have fixed that issue.  I was able to comfortably use the computer while lying in bed and watching TV, something I was unable to do with my previous laptop.  Battery life is, on average, six hours and it is so nice not to have to be constantly plugged in.  Because of its size, the netbook only has one speaker (mono), but it does have a headphone jack, which allows the sound to be heard in stereo.  It also has a USB port and a SD card reader.

The Nanobot
Most netbooks come standard with Windows 7 Starter, which means very limited access to Windows 7 features (for instance, you can't change the desktop background).  This virtually forces you to upgrade, which can be costly.  Another option is to use the Ubuntu Netbook Edition.  Even though Kris is a die-hard Linux convert, I am not a Linux user by any means.  That being said, the netbook version of Ubuntu is surprisingly easy to use once you get used to it.  There are benefits to using Linux; you deal with less bloatware and unneeded programs and there is less chance of getting viruses.  Most Windows-compatible programs have Linux counterparts or, as in the case of Skype, a Linux beta version. 

Ubuntu Netbook Edition desktop

As far as looks go, the Toshiba netbook is probably the best-looking netbook on the market.  It looks like a very small laptop, and this model comes in some gorgeous colors (turquoise, lime green, bright blue, brown, and orange).  The screen, though small at 10.1", is excellent and arguably rivals any full-size laptop for clarity.

Toshiba Mini-Notebook in blue

The netbook is perfect for what I need and very user friendly.  I would recommend it for people who are looking for a high-quality laptop without a lot of extras or frills.  It's not a good fit for people who use their computer for entertainment (ex: games, watching movies, etc.), but for those who can afford it, it would make an excellent secondary laptop for students or frequent travelers.

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