Samsung N210 review

5 Mar 2010

A welcome redesign and impressive battery life should continue Samsung's run of netbook success

Price when reviewed: 
307inc VAT
5

Rather than build on the excellence of both the original NC10 and its successor, the N110, Samsung's latest netbook wipes the slate clean and starts afresh. Rather than another identikit netbook, the Samsung N210 dares to be different.

The transformation sees it put on a few grams to tip the scales at a chunky 1.33kg, but it emerges from the redesign looking more sharply tailored and businesslike than before. The lid gleams with a glossy grey pinstripe and, while it's no slimline waif, its classy, finely-honed figure is framed by a pretty chrome strip skirting its edge. For just £253 exc VAT, the N210 is a fine-looking netbook.

As with all the netbooks currently being refreshed, the N210 adopts Intel's latest Pine Trail platform. The specification is almost identical to its competitors: there's 1GB of memory, 250GB of storage, and the sparkly chrome trim houses three USB ports, a 10/100 Ethernet socket and an SD/MMC card reader. Wireless networking stretches up to 802.11n speeds, and there's Bluetooth thrown into the mix, but nothing really lifts the N210 above the crowd.

Performance is also in line with its rivals, as you'd expect given the identikit hardware. A score of 0.3 in our benchmarks is no faster than the original NC10, which is a little disappointing given the newer components and the length of time that's passed.

Samsung N210

Thanks to the large 5,900mAh battery, though, the Samsung has enough stamina on tap to comfortably best much of the competition. It finally expired after more than nine hours of light use. Push it to its modest limits and Pine Trail's efficiency really shines through: even toiling away at full pelt with the display brightness set to maximum, the N210 kept going for just short of six hours.

Samsung's decision to replace the excellent keyboards of previous models with a new-fangled Scrabble-tile effort pays off. There's a positive action at the end of every keystroke, and the broad spacing between keys reduces the risk of typos. In fact, the only thing we hankered after was a slightly bigger right Shift key; we frequently found ourselves hitting Backslash by mistake.

The Samsung's appeal slips a little when it comes to the 10.1in screen, however. Its matte finish reduces reflectivity, but it adds a grainy quality to images. Combined with muted colour reproduction, it's enough to leave the N210 lagging a little behind the best.

The inclusion of an instant-on OS, HyperSpace, also seems entirely pointless given the inclusion of Windows 7 Starter. With Windows 7 rousing from slumber within seconds, it begs the question why anyone would bother using, let alone need, an instant-on environment at all.

Despite its minor shortcomings, though, Samsung's latest has what it takes to make a more than worthy successor to the superb N110. Deciding between this and Toshiba's NB305 is now almost purely a matter of taste, but the N210's combination of gargantuan battery life, slick new looks and good ergonomics make it one of the best netbooks around.

Details

Price ex VAT £261
Price inc VAT £307
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 265 x 189 x 29mm (WDH)
Weight 1.330kg
Travelling weight 1.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N450
Motherboard chipset Intel NM10
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 3150
Graphics card RAM 64MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Samsung HM250HI
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 5,900mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 9min
Battery life, heavy use 5hr 50min
Overall application benchmark score 0.30

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied None