Screen & Speakers
Unfortunately, while its design, connectivity and usability are all top-notch, the Toshiba NB510 sports the same old screen. A 10.1in, glossy TN affair with the standard 1,024 x 600 pixels is still the single weakest element of all these netbooks (there used to be quite a few models with HD Ready screens but they’ve long since succumbed to the general netbook purge). The horizontal resolution is especially limited, not even wide enough for some web pages or program interfaces.
Mind you, as these screens go the NB510 again excels. Horizontal viewing angles are good, blacks are deep with plenty of dark detailing, and there’s little to no sign of unwanted artefacts or backlight bleed and unevenness. In fact, we would go so far as to say that this is the best 1,024 x 600 panel we’ve yet seen in a netbook.
After the undeniably superb audio of Toshiba’s NB550D, the company’s effort here is seriously disappointing. The hidden speaker could barely fill a mouse’s abode, and even at less than a metre distant and on full volume, you have to strain to hear quieter bits in movies. What sound manages to be audible is clear but lacks body or depth, and bass is only noticeable by its complete absence.
Specifications & Performance
Under the hood we have the same dual-core Intel Atom 1.6GHz ‘Cedar Trail’ processor as we found at the heart of the Asus Eee PC X101CH, backed by the same 1GB of RAM.
CPU performance is disappointingly similar to the previous gen-chip, though at least on the GPU side there’s been a small but noticeable improvement. Full HD video playback is now finally on the menu thanks to dedicated hardware support, and the new Atom graphics chip is slightly less abysmal for gaming than its predecessor. Still, with an average in single digits in our Medium detail TrackMania Nations Forever test at native 1,024 x 600, so casual and 2D gamers only need apply.
For storage there’s also the usual: a 5,400rpm, 320GB hard drive. Lacking the Eee PC X101CH’s fast-boot trick, startup and resume are as slow as we remember from the bad old days before the Ultrabook standard introduced widespread SSD/hybrid SSD support.
The NB510’s 48Wh battery is user replaceable and can even be hot-swapped (though obviously the netbook needs to be plugged in for that). Battery life for this little Toshiba netbook is pretty good, managing six hours and 40 minutes in our standard test. This compares very favourably with the barely four hours we got from the Asus Eee PC X101CH.
In an extremely price-sensitive market the £240 Toshiba wants for its NB510-10D lets the cheaper £230 Asus Eee PC X101CH (which has gone up in price since we reviewed it) steal some of its thunder. The X101CH has a sleeker chassis, faux instant-on, and a fan-free design, and it weighs quite a bit less. The NB510 has an extra USB port, better screen, a much longer-lasting battery and far nicer keyboard, and it’s upgradeable.
For us, the superior usability, screen and longevity of the Toshiba wins it. If on the other hand you’re just after an on-the-go media consumption device, consider a tablet like the £160 Google Nexus 7 instead.
The Toshiba NB510-10D does all the netbook essentials and does them well. It’s not outstanding in any regard, but neither does it have any serious failings (aside from perhaps its speaker performance). If you can’t afford a more powerful ultraportable or a tablet with keyboard dock/base, it’s a solid choice, and our favourite so far.