While its components inside may be the standard configuration for stock Netbooks, Samsung's new N150 version of its minilaptop line at least stands out from the crowd with a unique design. The back of its lid--a deep red that fades to black at the edges--calls to mind a sunburst guitar finish and is a nice chance of pace from the basic black we're used to seeing in most Netbooks.
At $349, The N150 falls into the same price range as other retail fixed configuration Netbooks we've reviewed. It costs about $50 more than entry-level $299 models, but for the same price, you can also get the Asus Eee PC 1018 that offers similar components, but a slimmer profile and a more upscale brushed-metal look, as well as more than 30 minutes of additional battery life.
Despite its price, if the bold colorful design of the N150 appeals to you, this is a perfectly capable Netbook at a reasonable price.
|Price as reviewed||$349|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N450|
|Memory||1GB, 800MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Starter|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.4x7.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.6/3.2 pounds|
In a world where most Netbooks are glossy black bricks, the Samsung N150 at least tries to look a little different. Mixing black and burgundy, the lid reminded us a bit of the sunburst finish found on many guitars. The interior is less interesting; everything is a simple matte black. Compared with slimmer Netbooks such as the Asus Eee PC 1018, it looks and feels thick and bulky. However, with that you also get the sense that this is a solidly built laptop that can stand up to some serious road abuse.
The keyboard has wide, flat-topped keys, packed tightly together, which is a change from the more common island-style keyboards we've seen on most new Netbooks. The keys themselves are a good size, but the lack of space between them led to plenty of typing mistakes when we first started using the keyboard. The all-important right Shift key is fortunately a good size, but the four arrow keys are shrunk down quite a bit.
It has a decent size touch pad, but it's not as wide as the one of the Asus Eee PC 1018. The left and right mouse buttons are less impressive, relegated to a thin one-piece rocker bar that is far from our favorite way to control a mouse pointer.
The 10.1-inch wide-screen display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is standard for nonpremium Netbook screens. One of the best features of the N150 is its matte screen finish, which is a rarity on Netbooks (or consumer laptops of any size), so if you're very sensitive to screen glare, it could be a deal clincher.
|Samsung N150-11||Average for category [Netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
As with most of the fixed configuration retail Netbooks we've seen recently, 802.11n Wi-Fi is standard, while Bluetooth gets skipped. Other than that, you're not going to find any high-end extras, just the usual combo of three USB ports, a VGA video out, and an SD card reader.
While all of our back to school 2010 retail Netbooks essentially use the same combination on an Intel Atom N450 CPU, Windows 7 Starter, and 1GB of RAM (the HP Mini 210 has a variation N455 CPU and a faster hard drive), the Samsung N150 was actually faster then the competition by a few seconds in each of our benchmark tests.
Before you get too excited about that, the difference is literally just a few seconds in each case, and you're very unlikely to be able to tell the difference in everyday use. We'd say the N150 has typical Netbook performance, which means it's fine for basic Web surfing, office productivity, and light multimedia playback--HD streaming video is definitely iffy. The key to Netbook satisfaction is keeping one's expectations modest, and not trying to completely replace the full-size, full-power computer you already have.