Just a few days back we saw the ASUS 1015PEM, sporting a dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor. It still wasn’t the best in terms of performance. So what does Toshiba’s NB520, which boasts of almost the same specs, have to offer?


The NB520 doesn’t excite us much when it comes to design, which is rather plain and simple, like a standard netbook. What we did like in terms of design was the rubberized finish, which gave off a good feel.

Simple design with a rubberized finish

Simple design with a rubberized finish

The first thing you notice after opening the NB520 is the thick bezel around the 10.1-inch screen, something that is not very appealing and also wastes space. The power button located in the middle of the hinge is very tacky and not very convenient to use. The keys are also uneven in size and although we understand the space constraint, proper sizing for the keys is quite essential for comfortable usage. The function keys at the top (the Escape key and the F1 to F12 keys) are too small. Also, the Fn shortcut key on the left was a little slim and though netbooks or laptops generally have another one on the right, this one didn’t.

Check out the H/K speakers...

Check out the H/K speakers…

While most of the ports are placed well, the DC charger port should have been at the back, freeing up some space on the left of the netbook for a third USB port which would've been quite handy and useful. Toshiba considers the Harman/Kardon speakers as the NB520’s USP. The speakers have a driver on each side, but the way they are placed, you’ll end up covering them when your hands are on the keyboard.

Summing it up, the design is just about okay but the keyboard really disappoints in terms of the placement of keys.

There’s not much of a difference between the NB520’s and the ASUS 1015PEM’s specifications apart from the fact that this one has a 2 GB RAM while the former only had 1GB. The boost in performance is something we’ll be talking about in the next section.

Tacky power switch

Tacky power switch

One useful interesting feature included is the Sleep n Charge function, which lets you charge any devices that are USB-based. The Sleep n Play function lets you play music from any MP3 player or other device, while the netbook is asleep. This means you don’t have to keep your netbook on while your devices get charged or are playing songs.

The Sleep Utility and the speakers are what actually impressed us quite a bit. The ports are well placed and are quite convenient to reach out and use.

We thought, performance-wise, the NB520 would be pretty similar to ASUS’ 1015 PEM. But the difference of having an extra GB of RAM was quite visible in the results. We ran synthetic and real world tests and the scores are below. You can see a 40% improvement in the CPU arithmetic scores while the memory bandwidth gets a 30% boost. Video encoding took about 2 minutes 47 seconds lesser while the POV Ray benchmark is about a minute and  32 seconds faster. Click here for the ASUS score. 

Performs really well....

Performs really well….

The Harman/Kardon speakers definitely deserve a mention when it comes to gauging the performance of the NB520. These speakers sounded very good for a netbook of this size. Watching movies or even listening to music on this netbook will definitely make a lot of sense and you will notice the difference. They sound great and don’t distort much with the volume maxed out. 

Average viewing angles...

Average viewing angles…

The screen was another aspect that we thought of mentioning, as it wasn’t the best from different viewing angles and the colours are a little dull as well. Nevertheless, the screen doesn’t strain your eyes even after prolonged use.

The Toshiba NB520 is priced at Rs. 21,490 which is just about right for its performance and features. The speakers sound great and the performance is a lot better thanks to the extra RAM and let’s not forget the sleep utility feature that helps save power. The keyboard and the bezel are not the best but after some getting used to, you won’t really have a problem with this netbook.

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