Looking at the Samsung N230, you could be forgiven for thinking it's yet another cookie-cutter netbook. And you'd be right -- there's not an awful lot that separates this machine from its numerous rivals. Still, at least it's not one of the rubbish netbooks. The N230 has an easy-to-use keyboard, a great, non-glossy screen and tremendous battery life, so it's worth its £330 price tag.
The N230 isn't ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks much the same as any of the Samsung netbooks currently on the market. It sports a familiar glossy black lid, the main function of which seems to be to attract fingerprint smudges. Samsung's used a slightly more attractive, matte black finish on the keyboard section, though, and a black, brushed-metal effect on the wrist pad, so it's not all bad news.
Keyboards are a real source of disappointment on many netbooks. Luckily, Samsung's fitted the N230 with a top-quality keyboard. It uses isolated keys, with each button surrounded by a small sea of plastic. There's plenty of room between every key and its neighbours, so it's easy to hit each button without striking adjacent ones.
Any port in a storm
The N230 doesn't pack many surprises as far as connectivity is concerned. It has one VGA video-output port, an Ethernet port, and headphone and mic jacks. Samsung's also thrown in an SD memory-card reader on the front edge, which works brilliantly for copying pictures over from a digital camera or mobile phone.
The machine's USB ports are arguably the most interesting aspect of its connectivity. It has three of these but one can be used to charge your USB devices -- mobile phones, iPods and so on -- without the laptop being switched on. As you can imagine, this comes in handy when travelling, or when you don't want to have your laptop switched on simply to charge a gadget.
The Samsung N230 has a 10.1-inch display, which is the netbook norm. It's one of relatively few netbook screens to come with a matte finish. As a result, pictures and videos don't look quite as sexy, but you'll be able to use the netbook in just about any lighting conditions. Because the matte screen isn't highly reflective, it's even possible to use the N230 in direct sunlight.