It's all 'tablet this' and 'tablet that' these days. But we remember the good old times, when netbooks were all the rage, what with their low prices, long battery life and zany 'keyboards'. The 10.1-inch NB500 netbook doesn't break any new ground, but, at around £250, it could be a decent budget buy.
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Toshiba hasn't updated its netbook design since last year, so the NB500 looks very similar to theand . The design has its plus points, such as the soft, rubberised finish used on the lid and the fact it's available in various colours, including blue, green, brown and black. The colour of the lid is echoed on the trackpad buttons too, but otherwise the design feels uninspiring, especially compared to similarly sized models from Samsung, such as the new .
Toshiba has fitted the NB500 with three USB ports, but, unlike some of the other models in its range, none of these ports are enabled for 'sleep and charge', so you can't use them to charge up mobile devices when the netbook is switched off.
There's a VGA port, but there's no HDMI socket, which perhaps isn't surprising on a model in this price range. Bluetooth is also absent -- like an HDMI port, it's something that Toshiba reserves for the pricier models in its netbook range.
Nevertheless, the company has equipped the NB500 with a reasonably large 250GB hard drive, so there's plenty of room for storing work documents, as well as stuff that doesn't make you want to blow your brains out, like music and video files.
The keyboard is impressive, too. The layout is sensible and the keys are large and wide enough to touch type on, even at a fairly rapid pace. The action initially seems rather loose, but you soon come to appreciate the keys' springy, responsive feel.
The glossy screen has a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels, which is fairly standard for a netbook at this price level. Colours look rich and vibrant, and the LED backlight ensures the screen looks bright. The viewing angles aren't great though, especially on the horizontal axis. If you sit off-centre from the screen, colours can look quite dark and murky.