Toshiba has launched their NB510 netbook upgrade, complete with an update to Intel’s latest Atom family of processors, the 32nm Cedar Trail N2600.
Build quality is robust with very little flex – the NB510 is too compact for that. The lid seems solid, and stiff hinges mean practically no teeter. And the textured plastic surfaces withstand scratches admirably. All of which means the NB510 is useable even on bumpy bus rides. And it weighs a mere 1.18kg, which is lighter than most ultrabooks.
The Toshiba NB510 is well- equipped for network connectivity, with WiFI-n and Bluetooth 3, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port.The 10.1-inch display retains the trusty 1024 x 600 resolution favored amongst netbooks. The impressive 266 nits of brightness excuse the faintly grayish black tones to give a very satisfactory 223:1 contrast ratio. Movies play sweetly and color reproduction is fairly accurate. Outdoor use is easily possible thanks to the decent candela count.
Unfortunately the keyboard a bit cramped, but the stepped ‘bevel’ of the keys makes the best use of the available space for maximum key surface. Good travel and pressure point make typing comfortable for short bursts, though really meant for typing the odd url or e-mails rather than drafting your memoirs.
The trackpad is average-sized by netbook standards, and the mouse buttons are now set deeper into the front contors of the machine, to prevent tired or clumsy fingers encroaching onto the trackpad’s surface and moving things in unexpected directions when trying to click and drag. But I’m being a bit over-critical now.
Toshiba has provided a decent selection of ports – the usual three USB-2 ports, HDMI and D-Sub interfaces, SD card reader and Ethernet and audio jacks.
Modern games are of course totally unplayable on a dual-core CPU relying on integrated graphics. However a few old classics have become playable thanks to the improved pixel-crunching grunt of the NB510. HD content still gives the odd problem at 1080p, but lowering the resolution to 720p lets vids play smoothly.
Battery life is a plus with the netbook format, and even flat out the battery manages 5:45. Or 8:45 in light usage tests.
This particular Toshiba NB510 netbook is selling for Ł240 in the UK, or about $360. Not that it would sell anywhere near $360 if it reached the States; the bigger market means it would come in at around $270 or so, which would make it a reasonable price for a durable machine capable of medium-weight tasks. We should point out that a new netbook selling in Japan features not only the N2800 top-of-the-range Cedar Trail Atom processor, clocked at 1.86GHz, but also USB-3 functionality, a very useful feature for anyone who needs to shift files around on a regular basis. Tenfold (theoretically) faster file transfers would make the difference between a pretty decent netbook and one we would heartily recommend.
And that’s the story of the NB510 across the board – scaled-down but tolerable specs compared with its full-sized brethren. Netbooks aren’t really a good alternative to full-sized laptops, but for a portable machine for surfing or light document-editing, the occasional movie and general all-round decent performance, the NB510 is a fair deal.
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