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If there's any company that can match Asus for the sheer variety of similar netbooks it brings out, it's Samsung. Ever since the success of the original NC10, it has been prolific in bringing out new N-models, and today we're looking at one of its latest, the N230.
What sets the N230 apart from its peers and rivals? Well, for a start there's a stunning battery life claim of over 13 hours! This certainly goes quite a way towards justifying the N230's £330 price. Unfortunately, the only other headline-grabbers in terms of specifications are Bluetooth 3.0 (which doesn't really offer enough over its predecessor to make it worth getting excited about for the average consumer) and SDXC support, which is the latest SD memory card standard and again has niche appeal (at least for now).
Aside from this, the internals of this latest Samsung netbook read much like those of most others on the market. It runs on the same slightly underpowered Intel Atom N450, a single-core, 1.66GHz CPU that's adequate for daily tasks and should handle light 720p video in combination with Intel's integrated GMA3150 graphics. Not that you'll get the full benefits without hooking up to an external display, as the N230's 10.1in screen sports the usual sub-HD 1,024 x 600 resolution.
It's backed by 1GB of RAM residing in the netbook's single memory slot, which is just enough for Windows 7 Starter to be getting on with. Meanwhile permanent storage comes courtesy of a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive.
Connectivity is also standard. Along the right you'll find a non-Gigabit Ethernet socket, USB 2.0 port and headphone plus microphone jacks. At the front is a memory card reader that takes SD/HC/XC and MMC, while the right houses a further two USB ports and a VGA video output. On the wireless front, the aforementioned Bluetooth 3 is joined by Wi-Fi N.
In terms of design Samsung's netbooks tend to be attractive, and the solidly built N230 is no exception. The lid is the same horribly glossy black that will show off every finger-print, but opening it up reveals a much smarter interior. The screen's bezel with subtly integrated webcam and keyboard surround are matt, avoiding distracting reflections, while the palm rests and touchpad's buttons sport a rather fetching brushed metal effect.
This is complemented by the machine's sleek lines, tapered edges and chromed highlights. Nor is the symmetry spoiled by a power button, as in a nice touch this netbook sports a power switch along its front. As with the N210 before it, Samsung's N230 is one of the better-looking netbooks available, though it must be said that the bland blue wallpaper Samsung has installed by default (a limitation of Windows 7 Starter being that this can't be changed) is a very poor choice.
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