Other hardware highlights include the presence of Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and an HDMI output. This makes the N510 well placed to take advantage of HD content, either streaming over a network or connected to a monitor or TV. A 160GB hard drive provides enough space for moderate video, music and photo collections, but as ever is likely to be supplemented by external storage.
HDMI apart, connectivity is pretty standard, with VGA the other video connection, three USB ports, a memory card reader and audio jacks for headphones and microphones completing the package. One nice caveat is the addition of a ‘sleep & charge’ USB port, so you can charge your phone or MP3 player even when the machine is turned off.
As designs go the N510 is subdued, but in a good way. Its glossy black lid makes way for a smooth, matt black finish inside and Samsung has even done away with glossy displays, so reflections and over distractions are greatly reduced. Being based on an 11.6in display makes the N510 a fair bit larger and heavier than 10in models, weighing in at 1.46kg and measuring 289mm across, but it remains perfectly portable and build quality is reassuring.
This extra space is a good thing where ergonomics are concerned, too. Samsung has never had a problem fitting good laptop/netbook keyboards, thus it’s no surprise to find the example on the N510 to be precise, well arranged and great to use. It’s the touchpad that’s the main beneficiary. Previous Samsung netbooks, like the original NC10 and its replacement the N110, both featured somewhat cramped efforts, but the one on the N510 is perfectly situated and generous in size. It’s just like using a normal notebook really.
It’s a fact that extends to the display, which is very impressive. Its 1,366 x 768 native resolution is very liberating, as is the aforementioned anti-glare finish. In general it’s better than many cheap laptops as well, boasting reasonable viewing angles, a nice neutral colour palette and truly razor sharp text production – an important factor on a small display such as this.
Audio performance, predictably, isn’t quite as accomplished. Despite Samsung’s best efforts to impress, adding ‘SRS 3D Sound Effect’ to the spec sheet, the two 1.5W speakers housed beneath the front edge of the machine are tinny and ineffective for anything but online video clips. This is fine, though. We don’t generally expect much more.