Consumer Review: Is the Toshiba NB505 the Best Netbook?
© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.
Though My Dell Studio XPS suited my computing needs for word processing, business functions, entertainment and gaming, it kept me tethered to my home office desk. I wanted to be able to write on the road using a computer that was portable, lightweight and had long-lasting portable power. Consumer Reports dubbed the Toshiba NB505 as the best netbook. I’d been subscribing to the magazine for over 30 years, and trusted its conclusions. So I bought the netbook and put it through its paces.
When closed, the NB505 is slightly smaller than a letter-sized sheet of paper, though far thicker at 1.5 inches at the fattest part. Mine had the full ID number of NB505-N508BL because of its blue exterior. The unit boasts other colors like green, orange and brown, but only blue was available at my Best Buy. The slightly dimpled top cover makes the netbook easy to grab with one hand and store in a backpack, purse or briefcase. It’s even small enough to fit inside a folder in a file cabinet drawer.
The unit weighs 2.9 pounds and has a 48Wh, six-cell lithium-ion battery that gives it over eight hours of battery life at its default settings. I increased the brightness on my screen to better accommodate my aging eyes. This reduced battery life to just over six hours, which is still long enough for computer use during a transcontinental flight. The 10.1-inch screen is bright and clear, with a native resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, a 16:9 aspect ratio and an LED backlight. The 1.66 Hz Intel Atom Processor N455 has a 512 KB L2 cache at 667 MHz FSB. Coupled with the 1 GB of DDR2 RAM at 667 MHz, and the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150, the unit is not robust enough for intensive graphics work or high-def movies. The RAM can be expanded to 2 GB.
Some processes are sluggish, such as turning on. This takes over 40 seconds from the pushing of the on switch to the display of the Windows 7 login screen. However, the specs are more than adequate for word-processing, Internet browsing or general business programs. You have to be careful about opening too many programs at the same time, because the unit then freezes. In such a case, try turning the power off and on. If that doesn’t work, detach re-attach the battery pack.
I’ve only filled up a fraction of its 250 GB serial ATA hard drive, which spins at 5,400 RPM. The unit comes configured with Windows 7 Starter Edition, a trial version of Norton Internet Security and Microsoft Office 2010 starter.
Input and Output
The keyboard is slightly narrower than a standard keyboard, but has full-sized keys with flat tops. I would have preferred a slight depression on each key to increase finger traction. Only one Enter key sits on the right, which is a problem for those who are left-handed. An additional Fn key activates additional functions on certain keys, such as a ten-key pad on the right side of the keyboard. The Application key acts like another mouse button. The responsive touch pad measures about 3 inches by 1.5 inches, and features multi-touch control. This allows you to push, scroll, swipe or zoom in by brushing your fingers on the pad in different ways. The two buttons beneath it are easy to press, yet solid.
The right side of the keyboard area has two USB 2.0 ports, while the left side has the microphone and stereo headphone jacks, the 100-240v AC power port, one 2.0 USB port, an SD memory card reader, VGA video output, and a fast Ethernet (10/100) connection. The unit also has built-in monaural speakers that sound tinny, though listening through headphones connected to the headphone jack solves that issue. The built-in microphone is acceptable for Skype and online chat, but the webcam image tends toward the darker side, so use it only with bright lights.
Wi-Fi wireless networking uses 802.11 b/g/n, but there’s no Bluetooth. Typical of netbooks, there’s no CD or DVD drive, so you’ll need to load programs online, by using a flash drive or by connecting an external CD/DVD drive. Warranty is a year on parts and labor, and a year on the battery.
I ran the PassMark Performance Test 7.0 on the system to produce a PassMark Rating of 228.4. This number summarizes tests for the CPU, 2D and 3D graphics, memory and hard disk. This score puts the NB505 in the middle range of all netbooks, where the highest rating was about 339.
My experience with the NB505-N508BL has been excellent. It works well as a portable office away from the office, and handles all my word-processing, Internet browsing and business management needs with no problems. I wouldn’t recommend this for gamers or those looking for a portable entertainment device. However, Consumer Reports was correct in dubbing this the best netbook.
If you're having problems with your Toshiba NB505, check out solutions in Troubleshooting Toshiba NB505 Netbook Problems.
- Troubleshooting Toshiba NB505 Netbook Problems
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