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Monday, January 4, 2010

My Toshiba NB200 netbook

One of my stalwart companions during my trip to China was my Toshiba NB200 -005 netbook. I bought it just before I left, and I have to say that after about only 2 months use, it has served me well.

Without it I wouldn't have been able to book a hotel in Hong Kong... and of course, it's been great for surfing the net & email. I loaded my photos onto it from my digital camera, and was able to send back live updates of my whereabouts.

The battery life has been as good as promised; I get about 8 hours of use from it on a charge. The adapter is able to accept North America's 120V up to 240V, so I didn't have much problem with China's 220V. Only the plug shape was much of a challenge, though I was lucky enough to have access to power strips that accepted our standard pronged devices. The PSPgo (and I'm sure the PSP K series too) adapter is also fine with 220V.

The 6 cell battery does stick out though. It makes finding a case that fits properly pretty difficult. I bought a thin 15" nylon laptop cover for it that's a bit too big, but it does the job. Plus it was only about $6.00 CAD-- got it in Shenzhen-- and I haven't seen netbook cases here in Canada for less than $24.00.....

I've only encountered minor issues with my NB200: Whenever I transferred photos from my camera to it, the next time I started it up again it would go into chkdisk & that was a bit annoying. I'm not sure why it does that each time I loaded it with pics (about a weeks worth) they were about maybe 80MB total. I've transferred about 6 GB of music onto it with no probs, so I don't know why it does that with the photos. It may be a BIOS setting I need to figure out. Not a big deal though.

Also, when I have USB devices connected, such as a flash drive or my PSPgo, I always disconnect them using the USB settings in Windows 7 Starter... and it gives me a "safe to remove device" message.... but they never seem to be truly stopped. I still see the light on the flash drive, and my PSP doesn't give me that disconnected message that I usually get when I do it in XP on my PC.

The touchpad is nice & big, but sometimes it is unresponsive for a second or 2. And the chiclet style keyboard is nice, but it takes getting used to.

It has a HDD protection feature where it parks the drive if it feels a sharp movement, like it's going to fall or whatever. It's a bit sensitive, but better safe than sorry. And you can set it so it doesn't show the warning message each time, so it doesn't interfere with your activity.

I upped the ram to 2GB, replacing the 1GB it came with. That made it run much smoother. Windows 7 Starter is not that great; you get the annoyingly different-just-for-the-sake-of-being-different style of Vista *without* the cool features of the full version of Windows 7. The worst of both worlds? Nice. And just before I left I saw a couple netbooks that had the full Windows 7 on it-- not Starter. Though they seemed like they would be bogged down once you loaded it with real-life necessary software like antivirus, firewall, etc. But this one is ok enough for my humble needs. It's fairly easy to replace the RAM, but I think you need a special screwdriver to access the hard drive.

At about 3lbs, it does add a considerable weight to my backpack.... maybe I'm being a wimp, but when you're running for a train outside of Shanghai, trust me, you notice these things. But it is nice and small, a bit less than the size of an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. I have Photoshop 7 loaded on it, I use that to edit my photos, and it works fine. I use Firefox and have multiple tabs open and it seems to work ok, it's not as fast as a full PC, but it can handle the essentials.

That's the thing about netbooks, they are all pretty much the same-- they all have almost the exact same specs, so I guess it comes down to personal preference. My Toshiba NB200 is not a bad choice, it's basic but it works for me.


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