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April 23, 2009

Toshiba thinks big with mini notebook

NB200 goes for style and portability

By Steve Evans

Toshiba has revamped its mini notebook line with the launch of the NB200, aiming to shift emphasis to the user experience and stylish design.

The mini notebook will have a 10.1” screen and will be powered by an 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor N270 or the 1.66 GHz Intel Atom Processor N280. Battery life will range from up to 4 hours with a three cell battery to nine hours with a six cell version. The NB200 weighs in at 1.18kg for those models with the smaller battery.

It features a 160GB HDD and has a built-in 3D accelerometer monitoring system, which is said to protect the hard drive if the machine is dropped or bumped around.

WLAN and Bluetooth are both embedded and the device has three USB ports, enabling users to attach additional devices such as an external hard drive or disc drive.

Speaking at the launch of the NB200, Emmanuel Gueritte, Toshiba’s head of product marketing, EMEA, said that the company wanted to focus on the look and feel of the device.

“Product design is critical for users,” he said. “We’ve developed very advanced design products with the Satellite range, and this is the direction the mini notebook market is taking. Ultra portability is also key, people carry mini notebooks everywhere because they are small. But we don’t want to trade off on quality or reliability.”

The NB200 will be released in a number of different colours and styles, Gueritte added. “It will be in pink, white and brown as well as a glossy black. We expect the brown colour to be extremely trendy this year,” he said. “The black version has a smooth, shiny cover and the second variety has a ‘threaded’ texture – you can actually feel it.”

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Toshiba has also listened to feedback regarding keyboards – often said to be too small on a mini-notebook. “The keyboard is almost the same as on a 12” or 14” laptop. The alphabetical keys are actually the same size as a standard notebook, so experienced users will not have any problem switching to it,” Gueritte said.

Getting businesses to switch to mini notebooks may prove to be more of a challenge for Toshiba, but Thomas Teckentrup, general manager, Toshiba Computer Systems Division Europe, told CBR that the company didn’t want to limit the device to the consumer market.

“A mini notebook is neither a typical consumer or a professional device, because the usage scenario is very much defining what it is useable for,” he said. “You can see from the design, the colour and so on that it is aimed at consumers but we expect that mini notebooks will increasingly catch interest from professional customers. They traditionally take a little longer to investigate and understand new product categories.”

Teckentrup added that he is seeing demand from professional customers for ultra portable devices and remains optimistic that there is a future for mini notebooks within the enterprise space.

“There will be increasing opportunity [for mini notebooks in the business world]. In education we already roll out a large number of those devices and a lot of the requirements that an education establishment have are very close to what professionals are looking for,” he said.

The NB200 will be available in May 2009. Although pricing details were not revealed at the launch, it is expected to retail between €299 and €399.

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