Toshiba NB550D netbook

The most interesting offering on show was definitely the NB550D netbook. It sported a completely different, more ergonomic design to its lesser siblings, and upped the internals to AMD's new dual-core Fusion platform.

Differences are apparent even with the netbook closed, as its lid is a rubberized, textured affair that makes it easier to hold and carry, and is significantly more durable than the glossy or even matte plastic equivalents on most rivals. These lids come in a choice of black, blue, green and brown with colour-coordinated touchpad buttons.

Our favourite touch (pun intended, we're afraid) is that the netbook's palm-rests are coated in the same rubberized finish, making the NB550D very comfortable to type on despite the Harmon Kardon speakers also integrated there. This is helped by a good, nearly full-size isolation keyboard.

Though Toshiba has unfortunately opted to give its top-end netbook only 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive with Windows 7 Starter running the show on a 1,024 x 600 screen (standard netbook fare, in other words), AMD's 1GHz C50 makes up for a lot. Not only will the CPU cores themselves easily outperform most Intel Atoms, but the chip's integrated HD6250 graphics will handily wipe the floor with Intel's best efforts and even outperform Nvidia's ION solution.

In practice, this means that high-definition video – whether on or off-line – won't be a problem, and even the occasional older 3D game should be playable. It also gives the NB550D that rarest of affordable netbook commodities, an HDMI output.

Weight is once again kept consistent with the NB500 and NB520, at 1.33kg. Claimed battery life is somewhere between the two, at an excellent nine and a half hours – especially impressive considering Fusion isn't quite as power-frugal as the Intel Atom platform.

While Toshiba's NB500-series is stylish across the board and the speakers on the higher-end models are certainly impressive, we can't help but think the NB550D's C50 CPU is poorly complemented by a sub-HD Ready screen and only 1GB of RAM (we hope a higher-specced model will be brought out soon). However, if its price remains below £300 it's likely to be a very strong contender, especially considering its premium feel and impressive battery life claims.

No specific release dates were announced at the event though everything seems in line with the company's Q1 2011 plans announced in December. Watch out for retail availability in the coming weeks, and of course, the full review here on TrustedReviews.

comments powered by Disqus