Connections wise the U200-161 packs plenty of options into a relatively small 225 x 299 x 34.8mm chassis. On the left you’ll find the DC in, Ethernet port, security lock point, a USB 2.0 port, modem socket and the PC Card slot. The front houses a four-pin FireWire port, along with microphone and headphone jacks.
On the right are two USB 2.0 ports, one above the other, D-Sub, wireless on/off switch, 6-in-1 card reader and finally a neat volume wheel which is spring loaded and can be pressed inward to mute the audio output. Finally, the optical drive sits tidily below the card reader.
Though the connections are well laid out the same can’t be said of the keyboard, which has a rather unusual arrangement. One always has to make some concessions on notebook keyboards, especially on ultra-portables, but some of this particular layout defies logic.
First there’s the Tilde key, which has inexplicably been moved to the left of the Spacebar, while the Windows key has been moved to the top row alongside the Function keys. Then there’s the Backslash key that’s to the right of the Spacebar and which is followed by the Insert and Delete keys.
The Page Up/Down keys are situated awkwardly on the far right, next to the Shift key and below a smaller American style Enter key. This, despite there being blank spaces either side of the cursor keys where they would have been far more at home.
There’s also a blank space above the Enter key that could have been used to extend it over two rows, mirroring what you’ll find on normal desktop keyboards. One redeeming feature of the layout, however, is the smaller Caps Lock key which is safely tucked away where it can’t be activated by accident.
It’s difficult to understand why Toshiba has decided to do things this way, but some extra thought and attention would be welcome. It’s all the more disappointing because, apart from the curious layout, the keyboard is actually very good. Each key has a crisp, even feel to it and I found typing on it very easy indeed – when I wasn’t searching for oddly arranged keys that is.
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