- Classy looks paint
- More than 9 hours of battery life
- Nearly flush mount battery
- Cramped keyboard
- No easy access to hard drive
by Kevin O’Brien
The Samsung N110 is a 10-inch netbook offering an Intel Atom N270 processor and long-lasting six-cell battery with claims of up to 8.5 hours of battery life. The glossy black lid, red trim, and small profile design works for students or business professionals … something that can’t be said about all computers. In this review we try to duplicate Samsung’s lofty 8.5 hour battery claim, and see how well it performs compared to other netbooks.
Samsung N110 Specifications:
- Operating System: Genuine Windows XP Home SP3
- Processor: Intel Atom N270 Processor 1.6GHz (533MHz FSB, 512KB Cache)
- Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM (667MHz)
- Internal Storage: 160GB 5400 rpm Samsung SATA HDD
- Display: 10.1-inch diagonal LED-Backlit WSVGA+ (1024×600)
- Graphics: Intel GMA 950
- Wireless: Broadcom 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- Expansion: 3-in-1 media card slot
- Ports and connectors: (3) USB 2.0 ports, VGA OUT, power connector, RJ-45/Ethernet (Gigabit), stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in, 1.3 megapixel webcam
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 10.27″ x 7.3″ x 1.19″
- Weight: 2.78lb
- Power: 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery (5900mAh, 66Wh)
- Warranty: One-year standard warranty
- MSRP: $439
Build and Design
Our Samsung N110 has an attractive design with a slick black cover, red accent trim, and matte finish interior. The looks are classy, looking appropriate for business users or even a parent using it inside of a coffee shop. Samsung doesn’t go overboard with the brand logo, with a simple chrome raised letter “Samsung” on the front cover and a white painted logo underneath the display. Inside I think Samsung could have gone with glossy black paint, since it looks great on the outside cover. You might have had to deal with fingerprints and smudges, but it would have looked incredible. Outside we see that Samsung went with a flush mount extended battery that sticks down slightly in the rear, instead of sticking out the back. It doesn’t stick down as far as the extended battery on the HP 2140, which is perfectly fine by me. One interesting and helpful think Samsung thought of when they designed the location
Build quality is above average, with a very strong and durable chassis. When closed the screen cover does have some minor flex, but it doesn’t appear to affect the screen. Inside the palmrest and keyboard are super rigid, with barely any movement when pressed on firmly. The screen hinges feel pretty strong, keeping the netbook screen secure in travel, and keeping it in position when open. The chassis has very few squeaks or creaks when tossed around, feeling like it should hold up well over time. The painted top appears to resist most light scratches and scuffs, which should keep it looking great well into the future.
For users looking to upgrade components, the Samsung N110 only gives easy access to the RAM module. The hard drive and wireless cards are housed inside, with no quick access panel for them. Even though this configuration of the N110 includes a 160GB hard drive with plenty of space, a common upgrade is installing a 7200rpm drive or SSD, which helps to speed up the computer. This would require the user to fully dismantle the netbook, which is much more involved than one or two screws for an access panel.
Screen and Speakers
The LED-backlit glossy screen on the Samsung N110 is slightly above average, but seems to not have super saturated colors like some of the other netbook panels. Reds, specifically, stood out as being somewhat muted, where glossy netbook screens seem to always be rich and vibrant. Pure black also seemed to be washed out, appearing more as dark grey at higher backlit levels. Outside of color saturation issues the screen looked pretty good. Vertical viewing angles were more than adequate, spanning 20 forward or back as you titled the screen. Horizontal viewing angles were good out to around 50 degrees off center, before we saw any color inversion. Backlight brightness scaled between very easy to read in a dark room to bright enough to be viewed in a office setting. Sunlight readability would probably be limited to areas of shade, with reflections off the screen overpowering what is being displayed.
The speakers are bottom-firing drivers that are located below the palmrest. Sound quality is average compared to other netbooks, sounding tinny and lacking most bass and midrange. When it is placed on a hard desk surface you can clearly hear the speakers without any sound being blocked, but if you place it on your lap you end up completely covering the speakers. If you could imagine putting a pillow over normal notebook speakers, that is what it ends up sounding like. For private listening, or if you just want better sound quality, headphones are a great accessory to pack with this netbook.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Samsung N110 was comfortable to type on, but still not as impressive as other alternatives on the market. Samsung stuck with a condensed keyboard design that feels kind of cramped, where other netbooks like the HP Mini or ASUS Eee PC SeaShell give the impression that you are typing on a larger notebook. Keyboard support is great, with no flex under hard typing. Individual key action is smooth and responsive, with no wiggle of the key top when moved side to side. Each key makes a lightly audible click when pressed, which is great for not making noise in a classroom or meeting while taking notes.
Samsung includes a responsive Synaptics touchpad on the N110, which is easy to use and has no noticeable lag. The touchpad size is about average compared to other 10-inch netbooks, with only a few standing out as being larger. Toshiba has a large touch surface on the NB205, but it also has more space available on the palmrest. The surface on our netbook has a light matte finish, which is easy to glide across even if your fingers are slightly wet. The touchpad buttons share the same rocker style switch, which can sometimes be problematic, but this one seems to be flexible enough that both buttons can be triggered at the same time.
Ports and Features
Port selection is on par with most 10-inch netbooks, with the N110 offering three USB ports, VGA out, audio jacks, LAN, and a Kensington lock slot. Samsung also includes a SDHC card slot on the front edge of the netbook. It is not spring loaded, but it is almost flush mount when the card is inserted.