New Toshiba netbooks: all-day battery life, thin design

By David Flynn, January 20 2011
New Toshiba netbooks: all-day battery life, thin design

As business travellers upgrade from their three year old laptop they're increasingly downsizing to smaller, thinner and lighter notebooks.

And whenever Australian Business Traveller takes to the skies we take note of what computers are being used in airport lounges and on the plane. There's no doubt that the older mid-sized laptops are making way for slimmer models, especially the 'thin and light' machines which forego a CD/DVD drive.

And we're still seeing a good portion of the littlest laptops known as 'netbooks', which were conceived as a low-cost model for school and uni students but have become a 'second PC' for many users – including an appealing go-anywhere laptop for the small business set.

After all, most of the simplest business tasks you need to do on the road can be done on a netbook – without the physical heft or high price tag of a regular notebook, and with added appeal such as a battery that'll run all day without recharging.

So while touch-screen tablets and ultra-thin notebooks will continue to be the high-tech travel hits of 2011, netbooks are not about to disappear.

If anything, they're adding features and slicing the price tag. Toshiba's new NB500 series is a case in point.

The base model NB500 sells for an insane $399 but tops out at eight hours of battery life, with a 10.1 inch screen (making it a bit larger than an iPad's display) and weighing around 1.3kg.

At just $100 more, the $499 NB550 ups the ante with inbuilt Harman/Kardon speakers, a HDMI connector for hooking up to a desktop monitor or a flat-screen TV and the ability to recharge your smartphone via a powered USB socket even when the netbook is in sleep mode with the lid is closed.

How to use all that in real life? You've got enough juice to work all the way from Sydney to Singapore, but with a notebook – sorry, 'netbook' – that'll barely make a dent in your carry-on bag. Check into your hotel, plug the NB550 into the powerpoint to charge it up overnight, and at the same time you can give your BlackBerry or iPhone a top-up through the USB port.

If you've downloaded some video, the next night you can hook the NB550 up to your room's LCD TV to watch a movie on the big screen – or just play your favourite music through the peppy little top-firing speakers while you catch up on some reading.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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