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A Tale of Two Netbook Trackpads — Toshiba’s NB205 is Massive


Over the weekend, Tyler and I checked out the Toshiba NB205 netbook. Hey, some folks hit car shows or movies on a Saturday night — we check out netbooks. After writing a test post on it, I was sold. After all, if the device is good at what I need to do all day long, it’s a pretty attractive purchase. Obviously, I’m going to be sharing quite a bit about this netbook over the next week or two, but I wanted to address a very good question that arose from one of the readers.

TalonZ asked “I remember you didn’t upgrade from the wind to 1005HA because there wasn’t enough reason to. So what is it about this laptop that made you decide too?”

That’s an excellent question. I actually got my first hands-on with the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA when I saw the Toshiba netbook. The two were side-by-side. One of the key differences is in the trackpad and mouse buttons of the NB205. Above, I have a pic showing the trackpad for my MSI Wind on the left and the NB205 on the right. The difference is massive! In fact, the trackpad on the Toshiba NB205 is even bigger than the one on the Lenovo X301 full-sized thin-and-light notebook I have on loan. And while the 1005HA offered a larger trackpad than my Wind as well, more is better in this case for me personally. The 1005HA also uses a single button for left and right clicks, just like my Wind. Although functionally the same, I prefer dedicated left and right buttons.

Folks should know that the NB205 trackpad doesn’t currently support multi-touch controls, which is something that the 1005HA does offer. That’s not a deal-breaker for me (obviously), but it’s worth a mention. I do see plenty of custom actions in the trackpad settings, although they’re not intuitively easy to get at. You can set up specific actions for the corners of the trackpad as well as vertical and horizontal scrolling at the edges.

So did I purchase a $399 netbook solely for the gigantic trackpad? Not by a long shot, so stay tuned as I share my experiences over the next few weeks. Although I’ll have access to the final Windows 7 build on Thursday of this week, I’ll likely stick with Windows XP (s msft) for review purposes on the NB205 for a bit. That’s how consumers are buying this device, at least until October 22nd. Once I get through using it with XP, I’ll surely upgrade to Windows 7.

17 Responses to “A Tale of Two Netbook Trackpads — Toshiba’s NB205 is Massive”

  1. Just a quick note to anyone with an NB200/205:

    The tracking and reporting rate on the included Alps touchpad can be improved in Windows XP fairly easily. Go into [Control Panel]/[Mouse]/[Hardware]. Pick the Alps device, and in its properties you’ll find a tab that contains reporting rate, input buffer and a checkbox called “Fast Initialization”. There’s not a lot of documentation floating around that describes what this last one is, but it’s the worst thing in the world for Alps touchpads. Turn the reporting rate as high as it’ll go, uncheck the Fast Init, and reboot. Your netbook will be a thousand times better.

    Of course, I haven’t yet found a fix that handles this in Linux variants, which might mean returning my poor NB200… sigh.

  2. Nameless

    Personally, I don’t know why the netbook manufacturers aren’t adopting TrackPoints (“eraser mice”) instead. They take up a fraction of the space, are easy to reach if your hands are in touch-typing position, and scrolling could be accomplished by holding down the Fn key or some other button and moving the nub like you would move the cursor around.

    Trackpads, on the other hand, have this nasty habit of delivering accidental input when your hands brush against them, made worse as they get larger. It’s especially irritating on laptops with both TrackPoints AND trackpads. (However, I do love the two-finger-scroll feature Apple’s ‘Books have boasted since 2005.)

    Sony seems to have caught on to this with one offering, only they made their “NOT a netbook” device way too overpriced. Also, word is that they did make a proper cheap netbook later, just to use the more common trackpad.

    I know that some people HATE TrackPoints and swear by trackpads, but they have tons of netbooks to choose from. TrackPoint fans? Not even close, at least when it comes to ultraportables in a netbook price range.

  3. Kevin… I have read that it will be unpleasant and onerous to upgrade XP to Win 7. Did you consider that? If so, why not wait until October and buy a machine with Win 7 installed? Does it suck up that much more RAM than XP?


    • Bill, there is no easy way from Microsoft to upgrade XP to Windows 7. I have the NB205 in a dual-boot mode right now: XP on one partition and the final build of Windows 7 on another. I haven’t done analysis on if 7 uses much more RAM than XP.

  4. animatio

    well just mention … the asuss eee pc 901 and 1000 series all had/have a large trackpad and 2 buttons.
    i personally prefer these plain surface ones over the new raffled ones. well and multitouch was there a feature from the beginning. one of the many advantages these machines of the first hours had and still have.

  5. dont buy toshiba, the trackpad is horrible – constant stuttering and sometimes non responsive after a tap, half inch at the edges is not sensitive at all

    who cares its big when trying to do a more serious work with it will annoy the hell out of you

    i bought the gateway 11.6″ netbook instead of toshiba and the trackpad is fantastic, not to speak the price is the same

  6. wow! finally some windows machines get the idea and get a real touchpad!! :)

    that is def one thing i tell my other fellow geeks i LOVE about my macbook air: the i-can’t-believe-its-that-big touchpad and the multi-finger gestures.

    may have to look into one of these (even though i don’t need it) hehe. i like that it has usb sleep and charge port: agreed on being very useful.

  7. Michael

    I’d like to see a comparison of WHY you chose the nb205 vs the 1005ha (battery life is similar, and specs in general are the same, with the only real physical difference being the “sticking out” battery on the nb205.

    Why one over the other?


    • Michael, when it comes down to two devices with very similar specs, you’re left with personal preference. I used both netbooks side-by-side for nearly an hour. I liked the thinner design of the 1005HA, but the NB205 felt better due to the bigger trackpad, two mouse buttons, dedicated Page Up / Down buttons and island-style keyboard. It also felt more solid to me in general and I like the fact that one of the USB ports offers “sleep and charge”, which can be useful in a pinch.

      I can’t tell people which one to get because everyone’s requirements and preferences are different. I highly recommend playing with both before making a decision.

  8. Great to have some in use feedback on the Toshiba. I’m keen to upgrade my Lenovo S10 netbook and the Toshiba would be a contender except for the 1024 x 600 resolution. It’s the netbook ‘feature’ that drives me mad along with Windows XP. I have Vista Business installed on my netbook with 2GB of RAM. The reason – Vista Sleep. Wouldn’t be without Sleep compared to battery sucking Standby and too asleep Hibernation. Sleep for Vista has got to be Vistas best, and largely unheralded feature when it comes to laptops. The Sony Vaio W netbook with 1366×768 resolution sounds like magic to me. Yes some HP netbooks are avail with 1366 x 768 but hate the keyboards for touch typing. Netbooks with 1366 x 768 res plus Windows 7 Sleep ah bliss

  9. Will you try putting OS X on it as well? Your experience on the MSI Wind encourage me to put OS X on a similar unit. I’m using it intensely for the first time while on vacation in Tucson.