Since most netbooks are basically the same, design and usability have become disproportionately important – not that they aren’t important anyway. Ultimately, provided a netbook can look good, be good to use and deliver good battery life without costing the earth (see the MSI Wind U115-025UK for an example of the latter) then you’re onto a winner. So it goes with the NB200.
For starters it’s an attractive looking device. Unlike so many notebooks and netbooks the lid has a matte plastic finish, in this case its brown with a rather funky textured finish. This makes it very durable, though we’d still recommend getting some kind of slip-case since Toshiba doesn’t supply its own. In this sense Asus remains one of the more generous netbook purveyors.
Inside this brown theme is continued around the screen and hinge, as is the striped pattern from the lid. This is something of an acquired taste and at first we found it a little distracting, but you quickly grow used to it – as you do the only glossy refrain – the bronzed hinge section.
Happily the whole system isn’t brown, with the main body of the machine finished in silver. And, within this body, is housed the isolation-style keyboard. This exhibits some common characteristics in that key travel isn’t quite as deep as traditional keyboards; however, the key action is very crisp and positive and there’s very little flex.
Compared to some netbooks the keys aren’t the largest, but they’re more than large enough for comfortable typing. This is made all the more true thanks to the excellent layout. Cursor keys are studiously withdrawn, with Page Up and Down keys positioned intuitively for an alternative scrolling method. Basically it’s a very good keyboard; not quite the best, but still very good.
No complaints can be attached to the touchpad, either. It’s well positioned, large, and the two buttons are firm and nice to use. They’re definitely preferable to the popular choice of rocker-style switches, too, since you can hit them anywhere and still get the same tactile feedback.