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Samsung N120 Netbook - Samsung N120 Netbook

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Build quality isn't quite as impressive as previous models, with a bit of give on the chassis and a little creak on the hinge. It doesn't feel flimsy though, and the light construction helps to keep this larger machine's weight down to 1.28kg compared to 1.33kg for the smaller NC10.

As for connectivity, nothing has changed since the NC10, so we've still got power and Ethernet jacks on the left, along with two USB ports. At the front resides the 3-in-1 card reader supporting SD, SDHC and MMC, and finally on the right are headphone and microphone sockets, a third USB port and VGA-out, in addition to a lock slot.

Getting onto usability, the full-size anti-bacterial keyboard is a pleasure to use, offering crisp if slightly shallow feedback and a nice feel. Personally I still prefer the excellent example found on the HP Compaq Mini 700, mainly because - contrary to every desktop keyboard - Samsung has placed the '\' key to the right rather than the left. Since I am a right-shifter, this led me to repeatedly hit '\' when I meant to capitalise a letter, though obviously it's not an issue for many and something you get used to over time. Still, it's not an issue on the US version, where the '\' key is placed above the smaller Enter key.

Our only complaint with the otherwise decent touchpad is that the rocker switch doesn't feel quite as solid as on previous Samsung netbooks. Aside from this it's sensitive with a pleasant surface and large scroll zone. As on the N110, a series of indicators denoting drive, wireless and battery status to the left of the pad are easily visible with the machine closed.

Unfortunately Samsung didn't apply the same anti-gloss philosophy to the N120's screen as its lid, so with a dark background and any ambient lighting the 10.1in 1,024 x 600 display gets very reflective. On the positive side there's little banding and almost no backlight bleed, while colours are bright and text is sharp. As usual for a TN display though, strong contrast shift affects its greyscale performance.

As one would hope, the 1.5W speakers and subwoofer are very impressive - at least by netbook standards. Getting decent bass out of something the size and price of a netbook is not likely to happen anytime soon, but nevertheless audio reaches relatively high volume levels without serious distortion, while SRS TruSurround XT and SRS WOW XT processing help give a bit of depth. In terms of audio production this is the best netbook we've reviewed, but that's not saying too much and you're still better off using a good pair of headphones.

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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