Now, I don't want to start rumours that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were subjected to typing on the NB100 as a method of persuading them to talk, but typing on Toshiba's netbook is the roughest type of torture since my wife made me watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. Which is a shame, because there is a lot to like about the NB100...I think that netbook Nirvana will forever elude me so long as I stick with the 8.9-inch screens, because quite frankly the keyboards are way too small. While the Dell Mini 9 opted to shuffle keys around and shrink some keys while keeping most near full size, Toshiba has decided to aim the shrink ray at the entire keyboard. And the result is excruciatingly painful.
The other painful aspect of the NB100 is the trackpad and its buttons. They hate you. Firstly, using the trackpad to navigate around the screen is nigh on impossible thanks to its crazy tendency to randomly jump from one side of the screen to the other. And the left mouse button (which is conveniently slightly larger than the right button - a great design element for medium-to-large handed righties like myself) requires a significant amount of effort to actually click down. Within an hour of working on this, I needed to pull out a USB mouse just to maintain my sanity.
The NB100's design leaves a lot to be desired. It's kind of chunky, and would be scoffed at within the confines of Apple HQ. However, the power, ethernet and monitor ports on the back of the PC and the three USB ports are all conveniently placed, so maybe the ugly design is the result of function rather than aesthetics.
Battery life from the 4-cell battery is very decent, so long as you can tolerate the fact that it sticks out of your netbook like Quasimodo's hump. I had some juice left to spare after my "3 hour travel to work and back home on the train" test, so I'd say it rates slightly better than the Dell. Also superior to the Dell is that when you close the lid and put the machine to sleep, it actually sleeps. After about a week of lying idle, I opened the NB100 to discover it still had a mostly full battery.
Ultimately though, the NB100 is much further down the line of reincarnation in comparison to the Mini 9 in the quest for Netbook Nirvana. The cramped keyboard, erratic trackpad and awkward buttons are near impossible to use, so much so that they not only outweigh the positives, but they tip the scales over, spilling goodness and badness all over the kitchen floor. And for the asking price of $899 RRP, there's just no way that this can be seriously recommended. The Quest For Netbook Nirvana will continue in two weeks with the Dell Mini 12 - but when is a netbook not a netbook?