Its rugged exterior won't appeal to everyone, but the Samsung NB30 is a tough little netbook with a decent, 10.1-inch screen and sizeable keyboard.
The Samsung NB30 is basically a tougher version of the company's N310, which launched last year. To strengthen the netbook, Samsung has added a tougher shell and protected the hard drive against shocks. Thankfully, beefing up the hardware hasn't had the same effect on the cost, with the NB30 sporting a reasonable price tag of around £250.
new shell isn't as armour-plated as you might expect. In fact, Samsung seems to have just added a wavy ridge pattern across the surface and
a matte-black finish that's more resistant to scratches. The
company has produced some good-looking netbooks in the past, but this one is much
plainer due to its heavy-duty exterior.
The NB30 has a modest 10.1-inch screen and, although it's not all that slim, at 39mm thick, it'll still fit comfortably in your backpack. It also feels like it'll stand up to some abuse, which is important if you're going to be carting it around with you.
The NB30 has a fairly standard line-up of ports for a netbook. There are three USB ports, with two mounted on the right-hand side and another on the left. The one on the left is a sleep-and-charge port, so you can use it to charge peripherals like cameras and mobile phones even when the netbook is switched off. A VGA port enables you to hook the device up to an external monitor. Sadly, there's no HDMI socket. It does, however, have a front-mounted SD card reader, as well as an Ethernet jack, and 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
This netbook certainly doesn't break the mould when it comes to its processor. The NB30 is powered by an Intel Atom N450 CPU running at 1.66GHz. There's also 1GB of RAM on-board which is just enough to run the Windows 7 Starter operating system.
In the PCMark05 benchmark test, the netbook scored 1,280, which isn't particularly fast. Its speed puts it in line with most of its similarly priced competitors. As is the case with most netbooks, the NB30 is not much use for 3D gaming, with a lowly score of just 138 in the 3DMark06 test.
250GB hard drive is reasonably large and provides an adequate amount of room to
store files, photos and videos. Samsung has added shock protection to the
drive in the form of an accelerometer. This detects if the computer has been dropped, for example, and parks the heads to protect the drive and your data.
The NB30 runs on a rather large 5,900mAh battery that sits flush with the rear of the machine but sticks out beneath the chassis a little. This isn't an issue, however, as it actually helps tilt the keyboard towards you slightly to provide a better typing angle. As you'd expect, the larger battery means the NB30 has correspondingly longer battery life. In our intensive tests, it managed to keep running for a highly impressive 5 hours and 30 minutes before needing to be topped up with juice.
This machine's screen is reasonably impressive too. We like the fact it's got a matte coating, as it's less reflective than the glossy screens you find on most of today's netbooks. At 10.1 inches, however, it is rather small. The thick bezel around the display suggests Samsung could have fitted a larger screen without increasing the chassis size. Nonetheless, the resolution of 1,024x600 pixels is fine for browsing the Web and working on Word documents.
One thing we really like about this netbook is the keyboard, which is large for a device of this size. The smooth, flat keys are well spaced and very responsive, so it's easy to pick up a good speed when tapping out emails or creating work documents.
It's not exactly the most handsome netbook around, but, if you're looking for one you can rough up a little without it looking too worse for wear, the Samsung NB30 could be worth considering, especially if you appreciate having a good-quality screen and keyboard.Edited by Emma Bayly