Samsung N150 notebook

The Samsung N150 is the latest miniature notebook that promises an improved battery life and basic computing on the cheap. But can it deliver? We grabbed one and hit the road to find out.

Sporting the latest Intel Atom 1.66GHz N450 "Pine Trail" processor, the key here to the power and performance of the new Atom is an architecture that features the processor and graphics card on the one chip. That move means that the general power drain of the system is kept to a minimum so you can get plenty of power out of the included battery without having to resort to something large and clunky that sticks out the back. 

 

The battery at 100% charge will promise you over 8 hours in total, enough to get you through the day without having to find a power socket: handy indeed if you are on the road. 

In our tests battery life varied depending on what we were doing, whether or not we used Wi-Fi, for example, but it's fair to say if you are just planning on surfing the web and general word processing, then it will be more than enough to get you through most of the day. 

Design wise the Samsung N150 is a lightweight device (1.24kg) that comes in a dulled white or black plastic shell. That plastic isn't that luxurious in its design compared to netbooks from the likes of HP or Toshiba, making this appear rather cheap.

That said, the outside sports a fairly inoffensive design that is simple and to the point. Connections are to be found down either side, with the underneath offering access to the removable battery, as well as the computer's RAM. 

Connections include three well-spaced USB sockets (one on the left, two on the right), Ethernet, VGA socket for use with a bigger monitor, and headphones and mic jacks. There is also a 3-in-1 memory card reader.

Open up the netbook and you're presented with a 10-inch matte screen that has a 1024 x 600 (WSVGA) resolution. That matte screen is perfect for working in bright light conditions, however the short height and tall Windows 7 taskbar will mean you either have to opt for a right- or left-side taskbar or auto-hide to get the most out of the screen when working on longer documents or surfing web pages. 

Beneath that you get a rather uninspiring keyboard that is tight in its design. While that isn't too much of a problem for the mainstay of the QWERTY keyboard, it does mean areas like the arrow keys and Fn keys are incredibly small requiring nimble hands to operate at any sort of speed. 

Below that is a rather large (considering the size of the netbook) trackpad with a button bar directly below it. The trackpad itself is easy to use, sensitive enough to allow fluid motion across the screen and even multi-touch support for scrolling, zooming and rotating your way through commands. 

The same however can't be said for the buttons bar, which we had trouble pressing easily. It's a simple problem that could have been fixed by making the bar slightly wider. Meanwhile above the screen is a 0.3 megapixel webcam, while sound is provided by SRS TruSound XT to please the multimedia fan in you.

Get past the pros and cons of the design, which is fairly typical, and you get to start using the computer for what it was intended. 

Samsung has packed the N150 with that processor we talked about above, 1GB of RAM and 160GB hard drive. You'll also get Wi-Fi connectivity (b/g/n), however not Bluetooth. With no Nvidia ION graphics processor this is a netbook designed for light tasks, so it won't handle gaming nor acceptably play back your HD video. It is fine for SD video however. The N150 runs Windows 7 Starter Edition. 

Software wise and the N150 is loaded to the hilt with trial software that will have you searching for the delete key within seconds. After what seems to be a first install that lasts forever you'll get: Samsung Recovery Solution IV, Samsung Magic Doctor, Easy SpeedUp Manager, Easy Resolution Manager, Magic Keyboard, Adobe Reader, Easy Display Manger, Easy Network Manager, Samsung Battery Manager, Cyberlink YouCam, Samsung Update Plus, Battery Life Extender, Google Toolbar, Failsafe, AnyPC, Hyperspace, Game console, Suite Windows Live, and Microsoft Office Home & Student Trial + Microsoft Works all pre-installed. Cripes.

Verdict

At £280 the Samsung N150 is a standard netbook that is perfect if your needs aren't anything other than emailing, web surfing and basic word processing. More powerful devices are out there, but you do have to pay a premium for those.

The main problem the Samsung N150 suffers from is that it is unadventurous in its design, so there is virtually nothing to shout about over and above the competition other than that long battery life, and then in that it is not unique.

But if you don't care about any of that stuff, i.e., looking good for the sake of it, then the Samsung N150 will do you nicely.