One of the more disappointing aspects of the NB250 is its keyboard. Unlike the NB305 it doesn't have isolation keys, and depending on your point of view on such matters this could be deemed a good thing. However the replacement is rather poor thanks to the mushy, shallow keys and a noticeable rattle in places. It's far from a disaster, especially as the layout is acceptable, but we've seen plenty of better netbook keyboards.
By contrast the touchpad, typically a strength of Toshiba's netbooks, is extremely good. It's larger than those of many competitors, and the touchpad's buttons offer excellent feedback.
Another encouraging aspect of the NB250 is the screen. Though it does have a glossy, reflective finish, it produces nice colours, is exceedingly sharp and has decent viewing angles. Even its black level is quite good, making it a good choice for watching videos on the move. It's just a shame the reflective finish limits its scope somewhat. Just be sure to have a set of headphones or speakers to hand, as the NB250 only has one speaker and it's not very good.
In general the NB250's performance is netbook like, meaning it's on the slow side but fast enough for general web browsing, productivity and basic media playback. Unlike previous Intel Atom platforms this new one can handle 720p video in some instances, but its performance isn't reliable enough to our minds to call it HD capable.
As a general point we'd encourage everyone to investigate Linux netbook operating systems, such as Ubuntu Netbook Edition or Jolicloud, if you find the performance not to your liking. Not only are they faster, their interfaces are better suited to a netbook's screen resolution. Don't be scared, it's a lot simpler than you think.
No change of operating system will rectify the NB250's lack of battery life, though. Running a standard definition video at 50 per cent brightness resulted in just two and a half hours of life, which is way below average for a netbook of this price. It's just as well the six-cell version is only a few pounds more really, though that doesn't explain the price of this version.
Provided you opt for the similarly priced six-cell NB250, it will serve you well-enough. However, with so many excellent netbooks to choose from, it does little to distinguish itself from the pack.