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Samsung N120 Netbook review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Today we're looking at yet another netbook from Samsung, which has been on a roll in this area ever since its NC10 won our Best Netbook of 2008 award. The N110 came along and didn't mess with the basics, merely introducing a few slight design tweaks. Now though we have the Samsung N120 before us, so it's time to see what goodies are packed into its attractive shell.

Unfortunately, Samsung seems to be pulling a bit of an Asus on us, bringing out various refreshes of its netbooks which vary only in non-obvious ways. Like the N110 before it, Samsung's latest - available in black or white - is at first glance nothing more than an aesthetic update, so inside you'll find exactly the same components as in last year's model.

Most people will probably be familiar with the specification this kind of setup gets you: an Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz, a single gigabyte of RAM (which is just enough to keep the pre-installed Windows XP happy), and a par-for-the-course 160GB hard drive, with standard 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 plus EDR for wireless communication. Unfortunately, this also means the same underpowered Intel GMA950 integrated graphics, so you won't be running most HD video formats smoothly on this little netbook.

Why then, aside from the new styling which we'll get to in a minute, should you go for this little beast over its predecessors? There are only two hardware changes which are of genuine interest. The first is that the chassis has been extended, making for a wider netbook at 272mm and adding 20grams to make the total weight 1.28kg. This has not only given Samsung room to implement a 'full-size' keyboard with similarly-sized keys to those on a 12in notebook, but has also allowed the company to move the speakers to either side of the 10.1in screen and even add a subwoofer, making the N120 the first 2.1-speaker netbook we know of.

Visually, the changes are mostly subtle but all welcome. Gone is the piano-black fingerprint-loving lid of the N110, to be replaced by a semi-matte finish that requires far less maintenance and won't show up scratches as easily. We must applaud Samsung for breaking with the common tradition of making portable machines shiny; one it has previously promoted assiduously. It's also worth mentioning the included black nylon slipcase, which frankly feels cheap but does the job, protecting the N120 from wear and tear.

On the inside, this netbook looks nearly identical to the N110 aside from the screen's wider bezel, which here incorporates the speakers and a larger webcam section. Another small but welcome change is that all the ports are now marked by clear icons along the top (much like they were on the NC10). However, the chromed hinges are now matched by thin chrome strips to either side rather than the N110's red trim, which lends it a more cohesive look.

Francis Phillips

June 9, 2009, 6:35 pm

There seems to be some inconsistency in the scoring in your reviews of the NC10, N110 and N120. In fact the same discrepancies appear in may reviews particulary where they are undertaken by different reviewers. In the case of these 3 machines it is very much more apparent.





In the Design category you gave the NC10 a 10, the N110 a 9 and the N120 just an 8. This is surprising given that your view of the N110 was that it was better than the NC10 albeit that some people (although not Ed) have reservations about a glossy screen.





When we come to Performance The NC10 got 9 the N110 also 9 but the N120 just 8. Why? They all have the same specification and battery life seemed much the same.





I appreciate that these machines were reviewed over a 7 month period but your conclusion at the end of the N120 review was buy the NC10 and save yourself £60. It seems to me that this machine (N120) should have scored much the same as the NC10 and N110 in all categories except value for money.





I am also a little unclear how a total score for the NC10 of 38/40 led to an overall rating of 10/10, The N110 had a total score of 34/40 giving an overall 9/10 and the N120 had a score of 31/40 giving an overall score of of 8/10. Perhaps you should move to a % score which would allow a little more finesse in the scoring as I cannot see how the NC 10 and N120 managed to differ so widely. On a % basis the N120 scored 31/40 which is 77.5% whereas the NC10 scored 38/40 which is 95% or in other words poles apart yet they are quite clearly not that far apart except in price.

Ed

June 9, 2009, 8:18 pm

Hi Francis,





Rest assured we regularly have internal debates about these sorts of issues so we certainly are aware of your concerns. Ultimately, though, scores can sometimes be relevant for only a short amount of time. So despite all three of the above netbooks still being available, the seven months between them has impacted significantly on their relative scores. In particular, if the NC10 and N110 were both to be re-judged they would probably both score 9/10 as the NC10 is a nicer design but costs a little more.





With regards the design and performance scores, I tend to agree with you.





As for the overall scores, well for a start we don't consider them as a total of all the other scores. Yes, that comes into it but ultimately it's a gut instinct - after all we consider a 9/10 a recommended so we have to think long and hard as to whether we think a product truly deserves to be recommended. In the case of the N120 we liked it a lot but would we recommend it? Probably not.

TechVegan

June 9, 2009, 9:46 pm

@Francis Phillips:


In the design category, the NC10 was one of the nicest-looking netbooks on the market for its time. By the time the N110 came out, there were quite a few great-looking competitors, and the N120 scores lower yet because its speakers to either side of the screen make it look a bit chunkier and slightly less classy.





As to performance, with ULV processors making their way into affordable notebooks battery life is not as uniquely impressive as it once was (http://www.trustedreviews.com/..., and now that Ion is becoming available 3D and video performance will be reaching whole new levels (http://www.trustedreviews.com/....





As to your last point, our final score is not necessarily an average of the other scores, since these only reflect specific aspects and there will usually be factors we don't even have scores for.

Magikhat

June 26, 2009, 6:40 am

Okay.. the 60pounds you claim you will save.. is not worth it





The N120 has better specs, better battery life, better speakers.. PLUS the most important is the keyboard.. I think it is almost a full size keyboard vs the smaller NC10 keyboard.. The only thing the NC10 has over the N120 is the matte screen.. That could be the deal breaker.. Glossy screens are horrible!!!!!!!.. I am torn between which one to buy .. very tough decision.. I might just go for the N120 for the bigger keyboard.





Thanks- Daniel

Rakey

March 27, 2010, 12:16 am

Planin to buy a netbook how is this one

Gordon394

March 27, 2010, 11:01 am

@Rakey - just a suggestion, but reading the review should give you a pretty good idea ;)

caroline68

November 6, 2010, 6:58 am

one of my friend has this laptop type, and i have to admit that i envy her lol. both of us agree this laptop has the great features, the display screen is what i love the most!

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