The NB250, Toshiba's entry-level Windows 7 Starter.
Most netbooks have an inherent cuteness about them, and the NB250 is no different. It doesn't have a particularly adventurous design, but its glossy black lid has a rough, mottled finish that's interesting to look at and feel.
The NB250 is fairly light for a netbook of its size. With the standard three-cell battery, it weighs 1.12kg, and measures 263mm wide by 192mm deep. It also has a wedge profile, measuring 25mm at the front edge, and 32mm at the rear end.
If you opt for the longer-lasting six-cell battery, the NB250's weight rises to 1.33kg, and its chassis increases from 192mm to 212mm deep. That spoils the machine's appearance ever so slightly, but it's a relatively small price to pay if you need extra time away from the mains.
One of the NB250's biggest selling points is its large keyboard. The first time we pulled the machine out of its box, we hammered excitedly at its buttons, besotted with how easy it was to type on. Its mouse trackpad proved a joy too.
We've had poor experiences with Toshiba trackpads in the past, but this one was accurate and responsive, even when using multi-touch gestures, which allow you to scroll documents by making two-fingered swiping motions, or zoom in or out by pinching your fingers together or stretching them apart. Overall, anyone wishing to use the NB250 for heavy text input, or simply browsing the Internet, should have a pleasant experience.
View to a thrill
Toshiba's furnished the NB250 with a 10.1-inch display -- a common size among netbooks. It's very bright and has a fairly wide viewing angle (particularly on the horizontal plane) but it suffers from the same flaws as most screens on rival machines. It's glossy, so it's difficult to use outdoors, and it simply isn't big enough to allow two or more people to comfortably watch movies together -- unless the two people in question don't mind cuddling up and have remembered to apply deodorant.
The screen's 1,024x600-pixel resolution can make using some applications tricky. Some programs (Internet Explorer, for example) have a glut of toolbars at the top of the window, leaving little space for actual content in the centre of the page. You're unlikely to notice this issue on large displays, but, on screens that have a low vertical resolution, like the NB250's, you'll find yourself doing plenty of scrolling around to see your content in full.