In terms of software, as mentioned the OS is Windows XP SP3. Though there’s no Office suite, OpenOffice is free to download. McAfee is on hand for Anti-Virus, but the most useful addition is Samsung Battery Manager, which lets you fully customise various settings such as CPU speed (Maximum, Auto or Minimum), LCD brightness presets and LCD auto-dimming using an intuitive and visually attractive interface. Best of all, it lets you see just how changes to these settings should affect battery life.
Last but not least is the 5900mAh (66Wh) six-cell battery, the same capacity as found on the UK SKU of the N110. Samsung claims “up to 10.5hrs” on this, but that’s a little optimistic. Still, with the screen at a perfectly usable 40 per cent brightness and Wi-Fi turned on, the N120 managed just over six hours while playing back video. This could easily be extended during less intensive usage, with wireless turned off and the screen set to minimum brightness, on which it is still legible.
This battery life is roughly in line with the N110, which while not up to the heady heights of the Asus Eee PC 1000HE is still better compared to most netbooks.
Though generally around the £380 mark, it’s possible to find the N120 for under £360. This not only puts it in the same price-class Samsung’s N110, but also its NC20, which houses an HD-capable 12.1in 1,280 x 800 screen in its slightly larger chassis. However, since we haven’t reviewed the NC20 yet it’s difficult to know how it performs. Back to the N110 then, which one you go for depends mainly on your aesthetic preferences. In its favour, the N120 offers a matte-finished lid, better speakers and a slightly larger keyboard, but also adds wider dimensions.
From a value perspective, the one to get is actually the original NC10, which despite a few minor disadvantages (including slightly shorter battery life) offers identical specifications and a similar overall experience for £60 less. If battery life is your main consideration on the other hand, the Asus 1000HE is also available for around £300.
Thanks to a wider chassis, Samsung’s latest N120 netbook gives you 2.1 speakers and a slightly bigger keyboard than the company’s N110, but is otherwise identical in terms of specification to both that and the original NC10. Considering it demands a considerable premium over the latter, while the NC10 is still available most people will be better served getting that for £60 less.