Where the NB550D really sets itself apart from its cheaper
siblings like the NB520, however, is when it comes to specifications.
Star of the show is AMD’s brand new Fusion Brazos
architecture, which successfully combats Intel’s Atom. Here it consists of a dual-core,
1GHz C50 CPU and Radeon HD 6250 GPU. Don’t be misled by its lowly clock speed:
in the vast majority of tasks, the C50 will feel just as snappy as Intel’s
dual-core 1.5GHz Atom (as found in the NB520 or Samsung NF210).
On the graphics front, meanwhile, AMD is in a whole different
league. Unlike its rival’s solution, the Radeon HD 6250 will allow for Full HD
video acceleration, flash-based HD video and even some light gaming.
Unfortunately, Toshiba hasn’t really pulled out the stops
and given the C50 2GB of RAM to play with. Instead, you’re stuck with the same
1GB of DDR3 RAM, 250GB hard drive and Starter Edition of Windows 7 that occupy
most other netbooks. This is a real shame, but considering the NB550D is only
£20 more expensive than the NB520, we suppose compromises were inevitable. Also,
upgrading these yourself is really easy and there’s no warranty void sticker
over the access panel.
Thankfully, another area where the AMD chipset makes its
presence felt is in connectivity. The basics are the same as the NB520, including three USB 2.0 ports (one of which supports Sleep & Charge
to charge your external devices with the netbook turned off), SDHC memory card
reader, Ethernet port and 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, while on the
wireless front you get both Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0. Naturally the NB550D also
supports Toshiba’s Sleep & Music functionality, for more on which you
should have a read of page three of the NB520 review.
However, unlike the NB520’s analogue VGA video output, the
higher-end model offers HDMI. Along with the Radeon HD 6250’s Full HD (1080p)
video playback abilities, this lets you hook up to monitors or televisions and
turn this Toshiba into a portable entertainment centre.