Once all the rage, netbooks are now subservient to the latest tech craze: tablets. None has done more to eclipse netbooks than the Apple iPad, but just because people like talking about tablets and the iPad more than they do netbooks, it doesn't mean netbooks don't still have their place. Take the Samsung N130 as an example. This 10.1in netbook has no frills, no tricks or gimmicks on which to sell itself, but it's cheap (currently around £230), well-made and very portable. Exactly like a netbook should be, in fact.
In many respects the N130 is the spiritual successor to Samsung's original netbook, the much-loved NC10. Certainly on a component level there's very little difference. Slotted inside the N130 is an Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive, with Wireless-N Wi-Fi on-hand for connecting to wireless networks. Only the hard drive (160GB on the NC10) and the Wi-Fi has been upgraded.
Other elements, such as the 1,024 x 600 resolution screen, are just as we'd normally expect. What's more important is the presence of a decent, 4,000mAh six-cell battery that should ensure the N130 returns good battery life - always an important factor for any netbook, no matter the price.
Should you prefer Windows XP then you're in luck, as the N130 is still available with it installed. Our version, however, came with Windows 7 Starter Edition. It works just fine, though we've also installed Ubuntu Netbook Edition, which functions okay on the N130 - albeit with a few tweaks required.
All this is wrapped in a chassis that's both elegant and durable. Unlike many of the more recent releases, such as the Acer Aspire One 532h or Asus Eee PC 1005PE, the N130 eschews all varieties of glossy plastic, instead opting for an entirely matt black finish. This might not catch the eye so readily, but the nicely tapered lid and body give the N130 an air of class that belies its bargain basement price.
Another factor in the N130's favour is excellent build quality. Despite weighing just 1.25kg it feels extremely solid and well put together, with nary a hint of creaking panels or dodgy joins. We have no doubt the N130 could survive a few bumps scrapes provided they're not too grievous.
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