Toshiba has been just about the only significant PC manufacturer who hasn’t jumped on the netbook bandwagon in the U.S. market. Until today, that is–the company is announcing the Mini NB205, its first small, low-cost laptop. (Toshiba prefers to call these mini notebooks, not netbooks; I don’t know if the resolution of the netbook trademark spat will affect its choice of moniker.)
When I got an advance peek at the NB205 last week, Toshiba representatives told me that the company decided to wait to ship a netbook (er, a mini notebook) until it could do it right. And the units they showed me did look decidedly upscale–the first models I’ve seen that compete with Samsung’s for general luxe feel. For $399, you get a 2.9-pound machine in a textured, metallic-finish case (in blue, brown white, or pink). The keyboard boasts the comfy and practical through-the-case design and is as close to full-size as you can get in a machine with a 10.1″ LED screen, and the list of specs is respectable: a 160GB hard disk with a movement sensor, a Webcam, USB that charges even when the laptop is powered off, a decent-sized touchpad with well-postioned buttons, 802.11g/b WiFi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. For now, it runs Windows XP.