I haven’t had the chance to play with many Samsung netbooks lately, mainly because most of them aren’t available in stores in my country.
They are not that popular in the States from pretty much the same reason and it seems Samsung decided to focus on the Western European market, where they bring their latest products.
As a result, in Germany, France or UK, Samsung mini laptops dominate best-sellers lists. And for good reasons, they are very solid machines with good looks, ergonomic keyboards and decent performances.
Some of their devices were included in my list of Best netbooks available in the UK, like the N220 and the rugged Samsung NB30 .
Now, they’ve got a new spear-head in the mainstream 10 inch segment, the Samsung N230. This one entered the market a couple of months ago and it already became popular. Matt at netbookreviews.net managed to get one (the UK version) and put together a proper review, that you can read here.
But here’s what I think. First, take a look at the specs.
- Atom N450 processor, 1.66 GHz
- 1 GB DDR2 memory
- 250 GB storage space
- Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 3.0, 3xUSB 2.0, card-reader, webcam, etc
- Windows 7 Starter
- 6 Cell 66Wh 5900 mAh battery
You notice there’s almost nothing changed from the previous N220 generation, except for Bluetooh 3.0 on this one. Plus, the same older DDR2 compatible Atom platform is used, and not the upgraded one compatible with DDR3 memory (however, in terms of performance, there’s almost no difference between the two) Still, there’s more on a mini laptop than just specs.
First, this device looks amazing. I’ve said that before, I do it now, and Matt agrees too. Comes with a very thin sleek body and finishing is top notch: matte smooth plastic for the case and brushed aluminum for palm rest. And the areas around display and keyboard are matte too, as well as the screen itself. So finally, an entire matte product.
And it’s a lot lighter, weighing just under 2.2 pounds, while the N220 at 2.6 is like a brick in comparison. So, the N230 seems a lot like the Asus 1018P i reviewed and I’m glad more and more producers turn towards matte devices with special care for design and , more importantly, details and build quality.
Then, there’s the keyboard, a chiclet style one with little flex. I like that you do get the big Enter and Left Ctrl and Shift, which translates in very cramped arrow keys. Still, I prefer this approach over others I’ve seen. Also like the touchpad, which seems wide enough, is clearly separated from the palm rest; there’s a single mouse button, but with a distinctive separation in the middle for right/left click.
You do get all the ports needed and easy access to memory for upgrades. I also like the fact that there are some cooling vents on the bottom, which means that this netbook won’t get too hot or to noisy.
In terms of performance, don’t expect much. This is just the average 10 incher, OK for your basic every day tasks, like browsing, reading mails, writing texts, can even run some videos (probably 720p self-stored movies included), but not more.
However, battery is impressive. There’s a 6 cell 66Wh 5900 mAh battery on this one, just slightly smaller than the one on the Asus EEE PC 1005PE, but not by much. And it manages to bring up to 14 hours of life, according to producers. Matt ran some tests, and it managed to get 12+ hours in light browsing with Bluetooth Off and Screen Dimmed towards 50%, while on Battery Eater the Samsung N230 ran for 8.5 hours. And that’s translated in easily 10+ hours on a single charge, during everyday basis use, which gets the N230 up there, with the likes on the 1005PE and NB305 in terms of autonomy.
And then there’s the price matter. In the US, this one comes with a list price of $399 , but you can get it for $349 from Amazon, with a nice discount. In the UK, list price is 349 pounds, and once again Amazon offers it with a slight discount: around £330 . You should know that the US version only comes with a 3 Cell battery though, so you loose most of this stellar battery life. Other from this, price is very good what the capabilities of this machine.
However, in the UK, the N220 runs for around £300, while the N210 is 30-35 pounds cheaper. They do offer pretty much the same specs and features, but, the N230 is by far the best in terms of design, materials used, keyboard and battery life. Plus, it’s thinner, lighter (see the picture below, also from Matt, comparing the N210 and N230) and completely matte, so I can easily call it a true business mini notebook.
In fact, this Samsung N230 is so good I will add it to my list of best 10 inch netbooks. Can’t say if it surpassed the NB305 in my list of preferences just yet, I’ll wait to test it live first, but It’s definitely up there, and because of the better battery life, it surpasses the EEE PC 1018P.
Still, I could not find it with the 6 Cell battery in the US, but I’ll keep scouting and update once i do.
Photos and info from Matt at netbookreviews.net