Samsung N150: The first 4G netbook

Samsung is showing off the first netbook to use the upgrade to 3G at Mobile World Congress. We tried it out

If you're bored of 3G, it's time to take things to the next level. Which is 4G, obviously. The Samsung N150 is the first 4G netbook , making it able to connect to the Web wherever you wander.

3G is the technology that lets you browse the Web at usable speeds over your mobile phone signal. 4G is even faster, allowing you to browse like you're on broadband. It's set to make data-intensive processes, such as watching video or downloading, viable on mobile devices wherever you are.

There are two main types of 4G: WiMax, which we won't see in Britain, and Long Term Evolution (LTE), which we probably will. People quibble about whether LTE should be referred to as 4G or 3G LTE, but these people need to get out more -- it will almost certainly be sold as 4G here when it appears. The N150 uses LTE, and packs a Samsung-designed LTE modem chipset, called Kalmia. The processor is a Intel Atom Processor N450, and graphics are handled by an integrated Intel GMA3150 chip.

Samsung claims a theoretical maximum of 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload for LTE. The display unit we tried out on the Samsung stand was hardly setting the world aflame with upload speeds of 93KBps, but  download speeds of 3.53MBps, according to an onscreen counter, were more impressive, at the equivalent of 28Mbps -- a good home broadband speed. It's hard to make any judgements though, until we see it away from the confines of a trade show and on the No. 72 to Thingwall, halfway up a tarn or helping us cheat in the Goat and Sprocket pub quiz.

The keyboard is a decent size for typing on. The trackpad feels a little squished, and although it does support multitouch, the space isn't huge for swiping your finger around.

A built-in webcam and mic means you'll be able to Skype over 4G, without a Wi-Fi connection. The N150 also packs an SD card reader and a whopping three USB ports, with a choice of 160GB or 250GB hard drives. It packs a 10-inch LED-backlit screen with 1,024x600-pixel resolution. Samsung reckons you'll get battery life of up to 8.5 hours.

You can already get the N150 with 802.11bg/n Wi-Fi and 3G options. The 4G option will follow in selected markets. So far, Blighty has only seen trials of the technology -- by Motorola and O2 -- but real-life customers are benefiting from it in Sweden and the US . Samsung also has a range of 4G dongles ready for when the super-fast technology rolls out.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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