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Toshiba NB250 review

by Russell Barnes

Toshiba’s NB250 netbook stands as a value version of the company’s critically acclaimed NB305, but can it still deliver? Russell Barnes finds out…

This article originally appeared in issue 93 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Toshiba NB250 review Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Specs:Toshiba NB250 review
OS tested Ubuntu 10.04.1
Processor Intel Atom N455 (1.66GHz)
Memory 1GB DDR3
Storage 250GB hard drive (5400rpm)
Dimensions 263 x 211.5 x 25.4~30.75mm
Weight 1.18kg
Display size 10.1” (1024 x 600)
Expansion Multi-card reader

Pros: Although professionally built, materials are shoddy and the chassis is bulky and quite ugly
Cons: The basic specification is good and battery life is above average on the whole. Comes with Windows

The NB250 is Toshiba’s latest netbook and features Intel’s N455 Atom processor incorporating support for high-speed and low-power-consumption DDR3 RAM. The specification falls in line with the current trend, meaning that it’s up in the upper echelons in terms of netbook performance, yet almost identical to another netbook reviewed recently (like the Acer Aspire One D260), and others currently available on the market.

While it might be one of the more bleeding-edge options, it’s sadly one of the least attractive. To afford to offer the NB250 as a cheaper option to its popular NB305 model, Toshiba has really scrimped on materials. This being the case, it looks rather angular and chunky in appearance and comes across more like a first-generation netbook as opposed to one of the latest breed. Most offensive in this vein is the thick, matt plastic LED screen surround, which takes up far too much space and really advertises Toshiba’s effort to cut costs.

Other ugly touches include the squared-off Scrabble-tile key design and a keyboard layout that manages to be cramped and uncomfortable. This is despite boasting the same proportions as the Aspire One D260, which uses the space to effortlessly create a comfortable typing area.

We’ve never been entirely happy with Toshiba’s chassis either, which adopts an ugly tubular screen hinge with a power button sitting flush in the centre, just below the screen. To make matters worse, an odd ladder-motif raised texture on the back and wrist rest does nothing to enhance its visual appeal. Finally, the Lithium-ion battery stands proud of the chassis’s rear by quite some margin – in short, this is far from a sleek netbook.

Toshiba NB250 review

That said, the version reviewed here (the NB250-108) boasts a six-cell battery. Since the three-cell version (the NB250-107) is barely any cheaper, it does make good sense to go for the larger battery, but you certainly pay for it in terms of bulk and form. Promised battery life is over eight hours and although it didn’t quite match this in testing, we’d still be confident of it lasting a full day of office-style use.

We were pleased to see that the mouse pointer and accompanying left- and right-click buttons were large and convenient to use, though they were incredibly noisy under operation, creating loud ‘click clack’ sounds while navigating Ubuntu 10.04.1. Though this is fine while sat in a bustling office, it becomes an issue in the more serene setting of your home – friends and partners certainly won’t thank you for browsing the web on the couch while they’re trying to relax.

Despite the ugly surround, the screen on offer is surprisingly good, which is much more akin to what we’d expect from the likes of Toshiba. Adopting LED technology really paid off here with decent and even backlighting and clean, deep colours. It’s certainly not the best screen, but we’re very relieved that Toshiba didn’t take any cheaper options here.

It might be built like a bus, but in most respects the NB250 did perform really well in testing, proving itself suitably snappy and responsive around the web, while word processing and more besides. Picture reproduction was very fair and we didn’t find it too noisy (bar the mouse buttons!) or hot under full load.

Verdict: 3/5
It’s fast and responsive for realistic netbook usage and the six-cell battery boasts a good seven or so hours of life, but the shoddy materials, weak keyboard layout and appalling aesthetics are enough to send us looking elsewhere. In short then: solid performance, brick-like appeal.

You might also like:
Acer Aspire One D260 review
Linux User reviews section
Linux User homepage

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    • Robert

      It sure has ugliness going against it.

    • Jason

      I like how most the the article was pointing out how ugly it looks. I’d personally be more worried about how functional it was, which seemed like was barely touched on.
      It’s a computer, not a piece of jewelry.

    • Pingback: Linux User & Developer issue 93 is out now! | Linux User()

    • Christos Palmer

      The NB 250 may come pre-supplied with Windows 7 Starter, but it will run Fedora 14 no problem, I managed to run Fedora from a 2gb flash drive with no problems, very responsive, fast and connected to my wifi with absolute ease.

    • I find you need the HD storage to be as large as possible and I am happy with this.

      Firstly run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on this as the speed is necessary with this processor.

      I have the 6 cell battery and get 6-8 hours, and run most applications happily, all except video encoding is fast.

      webcam is poor quality, and 3.5 mm audio out is not working yet in Ubuntu yet.

      beware that due to small size netbook, websites that have a lot of content, run best in full screen.

      This is light weight, can be carried in car as it is, and work on the move, you will be fine with.

      Above says this looks and feels ugly, not true, but tracker mouse buttons are loud.


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    • Byteloose

      I purchased a Toshiba NB-250 after using an EEEpc for 3 years.

      I am overall satisfied. I really don’t find the serious ugliness that this reviewer is huge up on. I like the looks and feel.

      BUT, it does have a few downsides.

      1. Windows 7 Starter – use Ubuntu Linux for more complete services in all and any 32bit computer.
      2. Audio only has ONE rather lousy speaker – must you earphone to hear anything worthwhile, that has good audio.
      3. The charger is large-ish and gets quite hot – Why build a netbook and then provide a clunker of a charger to carry everywhere – Change at least the AC cord to a shorter version of the same, if you can find that rather exotic plug in OR find a complete OEM replacement that fits nicely in a bag.

      1. The Touchpad seems oversensitive and certainly is not well supported in Windows 7. Toshiba seemed to provide too many functions for any sane user.

      I’ve yet to load the Ubuntu that I originally planned – that may be better. I wanted to explore Windows 7 before moving on. I am a dedicated netbook user as I live in Taiwan and need it for everyday uses.

    • prasetio

      i am to ask to all of you…
      please help me……………

      i use toshiba nb250 with win7 starter firstly…
      now, i use dual booting…

      i need driver toshiba nb250 for linux ubuntu 10.04….

    • Loopy Byteloose

      Hi. I am still using Ubuntu Linux Netbook version 10.04 on the NB250 in a dual boot. But I’ve yet to figure out a way to make all the FN key functions work. The problem seems to have its origin in the BIOS vendor not supporting Linux with public information.

      So I keep the dual boot in order to toggle functions if I must (like turn on/off Wifi).

      I am not sure this problem will ever be solved in a Toshiba. Next time I will get an Asus as they seem to share info with Linux.