We take a look at one of Samsung’s latest attempts to break the netbook market, the N130.
Netbooks are ever becoming the tech gadget of choice for both consumer and business users alike. The light-weight design and long battery life that tend to typify the models are tempting people away from the full-size laptop along with an often much more appealing price tag.
Samsung has really begun to make its mark in this field and in this review we take a look how the N130 model shapes up in such a bustling marketplace.
We played with the white version of the product, which is more of a disappointing pearl colour that happily picks up marks and dust. Yet it is very smooth and incredibly tactile. Luckily you don’t have to stick with this hue and can opt for the sleeker looking black option if that better fits your personal tastes.
When opening up the netbook the first thing we noticed was the lack of flexibility on the hinge between the keyboard and screen. It locks in a well angled but set position, not giving much freedom with the angle choice. If you're the sort of user who likes to lie on your front on the floor while working, you're probably also the sort of user who likes to be able to put the screen back so far you're almost left with a flat surface. Alas, you won't find such flexibility here. But again, while this is a niggle, it's not a deal breaker for the average user.
The connecting joint seemed a little fragile, but we're hoping the designers have factored in the necessary robustness for those who may open their netbooks more excitedly than others.
Other than that issue it does feel quite sturdy, indicating this is a machine that could take quite a few knocks before any problems surfaced.
While the battery does protrude a little - taking away from the smoothness of the machine - it does raise the keyboard up to an angle that makes typing a more comfortable experience.
Other than small gripes, our overall initial visual impressions were good. The slightly darker white keyboard is a good size and very comfortable to type on with slightly springy, reasonably sized keys. As with many netbook keyboards though the one button that lets it down is the right hand shift key that we missed on a regular basis, adding in several slashes to our text rather than the appropriate capital letter.
The trackpad is both smooth and responsive although it is slightly too close to the space key leading to the occasional slip. It has just one button along the bottom but can clearly define between left and right click making it incredibly easy to use and removing frustration that many one key-based pads cause.
The 10.1in screen with 1024x600 pixels resolution is bright and were experienced very few glare issues in different lighting conditions unlike many other options on the market. That said, the matt finish reduce some of the clarity.
When you get to the insides of this machine it is all pretty standard, as the benchmark score of 0.4 proved. It comes with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB DDR2 SDRAM which serves its purpose well but without impressive results.
Intel GMA 950 graphics and a 160GB hard disk space are again enough for most users and certainly suited our needs during the test period.
Response times were good. Indeed, we didn't experience an awful lot of waiting around to get going on this netbook,, which for something designed to be used on the move is somewhat of a necessity.
Battery life for the six cell 40 watt engine was a reasonable three hours and 22 minutes for heavy use with light use impressing us at dead on six hours. While three hours might not seem much for business users who live and breathe their machines, it's worth remembering that netbooks were never designed to replace their 'day-job' kit.
With an average price from retailers of about £235 we think this is a good buy. It doesn't have us bouncing off the walls with excitment and we don’t pretend that it is the prettiest netbook out there, but it does have a lot to offer nonetheless.
But this machine is no eyesore, comes with average test scores that even some more expensive netbooks cant achieve and seriously offers a bit of a bargain as long as you don’t expect too much of netbooks in general.
For a regular business user who needs a reliable, responsive machine on a budget you can’t go far wrong with the Samsung N130.
Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM
Storage: 160GB hard disk
Graphics: Intel GMA 950 graphics
Display: 10.1in 1024 x 600
Ports: 3 x USB, RJ-45, VGA, SD card reader, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Connectivity: 10/100 LAN, 802.11bg, webcam
OS: Windows XP Home
Dimensions: 263.8 x 28.5 x 185.5mm