Screen and Speakers
The display on the Samsung N150 feels like a bit of a step backward in the netbook market. Most modern netbooks have switched to display panels that feature a 1366×768 resolution similar to larger notebook screens. Unfortunately, the screen on the N150 uses an older style 1024×600 LED-backlit panel. This means that many web pages might not display properly on the screen and even some Windows menus might not fit on the screen due to the extremely low resolution. In short, you need to be prepared for horizontal or vertical scrolling. In addition, this screen doesn’t support 720p playback (which requires a display with a minimum resolution of 1280×720) so you can forget about YouTube HD. That said, the CPU and integrated graphics have trouble with HD content as well.
The panel itself is easy to read–at least with my eyes–and text doesn’t appear to be that small compared to other mobile devices. If you can read small text on a mobile phone, you should be able to view the screen without any problems. Viewing angles were average compared to other notebooks, with colors starting to invert or distort when the screen was tilted about 15 degrees forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were much better and the matte screen prevented unwanted reflections.
The small speakers on the Samsung N150 netbook are located under the front edge of the palmrests, angled down toward your lap. On a hard desktop surface they are loud enough to fill a small room with sound since the audio “bounces” off the table and moves forward toward the user. If you’re using this netbook as a “laptop” then you should expect the audio to be muffled since the downward-firing speakers will be blocked by clothing. Sound quality was average or below average compared to other similarly sized netbooks, with virtually no bass and weak midrange.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Samsung N150 features a cramped keyboard with traditional-style keys. Most of the keys are only a fraction smaller than full-size notebook keys, but the function keys and the arrow keys are painfully small in order to fit inside the 10-inch footprint. The keyboard is comfortable for typing quick business emails, Facebook updates or making a quick online purchase, but don’t expect to type your autobiography without developing severe hand cramps. In other words, this keyboard is intended for short term travel or light usage while web browsing. If you intend to use this as your primary system, you might want to consider buying an external keyboard for any time you plan to be typing for several hours.
The touchpad on the N150 is small. When I say small, I mean that I can almost cover the entire touchpad surface with my thumb turned sideways. The touchpad itself includes multi-finger gesture support which lets you scroll, pinch-zoom in and out, and rotate via the touchpad. Of course, if you have large adult-sized hands it won’t be easy to fit two fingers on the touchpad and perform a gesture at the same time. The matte black texture of the touchpad surface matches the rest of the netbook and sensitivity was excellent without any adjustment needed. The two touchpad buttons are located under a single touchpad “rocker switch” with a small indent separating the left and right buttons. The button press is shallow with an audible “click” when used.