It may be over a year old now, but the reliable, cheap and efficient Atom processor still dominates the world of netbooks and will continue to do so for a while yet.

Performance wise, there's only the battery life and screen quality which separate, say, the Asus EeePC 901 or Sony Vaio-P from this, Toshiba's first 10in netbook, the NB200.

Slim pickings

Because of the technical similarities, it's increasingly what's outside that counts. And since fashion is a deciding factor, it was inevitable that on this year's catwalk of compact computers, thin has joined cheap and light as a defining quality of a new netbook.

We've already seen Asus' 'Seashell' EeePC 1008, and Acer's Aspire One D250 is barely a centimetre thicker than that. It's all bad news for MSI's recent X-Slim, which is not much more powerful than a netbook but a lot more costly.

The NB200 is marginally larger in every direction compared to the D250, but it is lighter than an 8.9in EeePC 901, and feels roomy to work on without being that much bigger than the competition.

Business looks

While the glossy black lid hints at something darkly exciting beneath, the NB200 actually has a fairly austere design. It’s a very corporate look, albeit a big improvement on last year's NB100.

In short, it's nowhere near as instantly desirable as the Seashell, the screen runaround is too wide, the look too bland and there's no handy automated overclocking when you plug in the mains cable.

But it is just three quarters of the price, and aside from a slightly sticky mousepad that lacks multiouch, just as easy and enjoyable to use.

Comfy keys

To counter any concerns you have about the severity of the design, Toshiba's thrown in an excellent selection of ad-supported free games, including the awesome ‘World of Goo’.

Lest you worry that this is like wearing a Homer Simpson tie to the office to prove your humorous credentials, rest assured they're all tested to run smoothly on the NB200's low power system.

There are more expensive models available, but the only things you're sacrificing for the £300 price are Bluetooth and a six-cell battery. The latter we'd normally consider essential, but as the NB200 squeezes a good four hours out of the standard three cell affair – even with Wi-Fi on – it's certainly adequate considering the cost and weight.


Stuff says... 

Toshiba NB200 review

Not the most exciting-looking netbook, but solidly built with a bearable battery life and some fun extras