Putting the idiosyncrasies of the keyboard aside for one moment, the U200-161 has a glossy finished 12.1in widescreen display with a 1,280 x 800 native resolution. For the price this display is really very good, and for a glossy display the viewing angles are surprisingly wide while even in an office environment it wasn’t overly reflective.
The blacks and colours it produces are typically excellent, and it dealt with the high contrast final scenes of Apocalypse Now very well indeed. The only slight annoyance – and it is only slight – is some backlight bleeding from the bottom of the screen which is especially noticeable when watching a DVD in a 2.35:1 letterbox format.
For our testing we’ve compared the U200-161 to the larger, but similarly priced and specified, Lenovo 3000 N100, and the more expensive Q35 Red Core 2 Duo. Overall the U200-161 performed creditably, lagging only slightly behind the Lenovo that benefited from twice the amount of RAM and an nVidia graphics chip.
The U200-161 did, however, excel itself in the MobileMark battery tests, coming comfortably in between the larger Lenovo and the more expensive Samsung Q35. Normal battery performance was excellent, with the Toshiba lasting 206 minutes, almost four hours, and it received the same performance rating as the Q35.
The Toshiba power management software should also be singled out for special attention, providing a plethora of options to maximise performance depending upon usage.
Having had doubts at first, the Toshiba U200-161 has certainly proved to be more than capable. Performance is solid, and the excellent battery life and a high quality display help make it a good all rounder for home and business use.
It only misses out on a Recommended award due to annoyances such as the lack of Bluetooth, the unusual keyboard layout and the minor backlight bleeding. If you can put up with these, and the price should certainly help alleviate the pain, then the U200-161 is great little buy.