Samsung N210 Review

I’ve been researching netbooks for about a month and now that I booked a flight to return to Australian in April/May, I was thinking of buying one pretty soon. I had been considering either one of the Acer, Asus or Samsung netbooks since they seemed to have the best value and the best reviews. I even took a trip to Tottenham Court Road (electronics road) so that I had a chance to test run them. I realised that trying the keyboard and trying to type was going to be one of the biggest influencing factors, with most of the hardware specifications pretty close.

Since I wanted something that I felt could last one of the long airplane legs on the way to Australia, I decided up the N140 with its 5900mAh battery apparently lasting for up to 9 hours (of course I imagine realistically it to be a couple of hours less).

I then stumbled across this, announcing the Samsung N210 upgraded model. I also noticed UK Amazon had some in stock. I debated buying it thinking about all the different dimensions I wanted. It qualified for my budget (sub £300) at £297.05 and I figured the extra hard drive space, and the latest processor meant that its 5900mAh battery life would be somewhat extended (purportedly 11-12 hours) as a result. I made the plunge Wednesday night (almost midnight in fact) and it surprisingly arrived before the weekend just by standard delivery. Brilliant. Thanks Amazon.

As you can see in the picture below, the box itself isn’t very large. Amazon sent it in another box and although they didn’t really use a lot of scrunched up paper to cushion it, it still arrived intact though you could feel this box inside the Amazon one moving if you shook it. Its initial size looked really promising (remembering I haven’t had a netbook before). There’s basically two parts inside the box, the laptop sitting in padded cushions on top of another small box containing the packaged cables and manuals.

Here are all the accessories that come along with the netbook. When I first picked up the netbook, I was particularly surprised at how light it felt. Admittedly it didn’t have the battery attached, but even with that now, I haven’t had any trouble carrying it around town in a shoulder-sling bag. I’d even consider carrying the charger around as it, too, is fairly light.

Samsung thought ahead and included a Samsung-branded neoprene laptop sleeve as part of the package. It’s a great thought though it’s a shame it’s so cheap because I now plan on replacing it with a much stronger, tougher-feeling sleeve. I would have kept it, even with its branding, had it been a quality make. I’ll probably find a Crumpler Gimp that will fit it. Having said that, it’s still a great thought and I’ll definitely use it until I can replace it (hopefully it won’t be too soon).

I’d mentioned before it’s important to test the keyboard, and from most of the various reviews, Samsung keyboards all tend to be pretty well respected. I like the fact the keys are full sized. I read about horror stories of netbooks with tiny keys, making it impossible to type properly. I’d also read about the keyboard on a similarly new N150 that failed to impress with its keyboard. Fortunately, the chiclet-style keyboard, works like a charm for typing normally. Just like any netbook, you need to get used to the placement of much less used keys but it’s bearable. You can also see the tiny trackpad visible in this shot. I haven’t had too many problems with it, although you need to press the mouse buttons with some force as they need to really recess into the body to activate. I think you get used to this after a while. I’m not really a trackpad sort of person, preferring the pointing stick style, but it does the job reasonably well. The trackpad’s not large but then you’d expect that of a netbook.

Here’s a picture of the back (before the battery clips on). Note that you need a screwdriver to replaces its harddrive or memory.

The external ports for this machine should be unsurprising for a netbook. On this side, you can see two USB ports, a VGA out and a place to hook a security line.

On this side, you can see the power outlet, a 100/10 network port and a “chargeable” USB port including headphone/microphone outlets. The great thing about the “chargeable” USB port is that you can have the laptop off, and with the right setting configured, charge any USB powered devices without having the entire machine on. A nice touch.

So I’ve had it over the weekend and what do I think? Setting it up was fairly easy with pretty much automated prompts taking me through installation of everything. It has Windows 7 starter, and it’s less of a Samsung thing than it is a Microsoft thing but it still took about four or five various restarts to install itself properly. A whole lot of Samsung software gets installed automatically. I doubt I’m going to use a lot of it although there are a few nice pieces for configuring some system settings.

Once charged (I noticed it took between an hour and two hours to fully charge), I detached it and had it connected to my local wi-fi, downloading various freeware components to install. I wasn’t too bothered it took a long time to install various bits and pieces, after all it is a netbook optimised for lightweight applications, not for processing intensive pieces of software. It all ran rather smoothly.

I think I’ve managed to run it for about eight or so hours downloading, installing and tweaking various components over the course of this weekend and it still didn’t yet need a charge. An impressive feat indeed. I haven’t tried getting it to play back video although I’m guessing it will probably struggle with only 1GB of RAM. I’ll see how I use it before considering the upgrade. Here’s all the software that I set up:

  • Launchy – Kick start applciations, and add various macros for doing simple things. I’m not yet used to the Windows 7 interface so this helps me be productive without it. It’s also great without needing too much screen real estate.
  • IrfanView – I use this all the time for quick viewing all files. The netbook suffers a bit trying to load up high quality/size pictures from my digital SLR (4MB each).
  • Paint.Net – A great photoshop substitute thats freeware.
  • Firefox – Who wants to really use IE8?
  • Chrome – It’s great to have another alternative than IE8.
  • Notepad++ – A much better file editor than the one built into windows.
  • Skype – For making calls over the internet.
  • Freemind – A mind mapping tool
  • TweetDeck – Twitter client
  • AVG – Free antivirus
  • Spybot Search and Destory – As it says on the tin
  • Open Office – Office suite equivalent
  • VLC – Multimedia player
  • 7-Zip – Lightweight archiving/unarchiving software

The Samsung N210 has impressed, doing all it says on the tin. I’m interested to see how long the battery life lasts as long as it does, but the comfortable full-sized keyboard and its battery performance will be useful if you just want to do notetaking/writing as much as I tend to do. I can imagine disabling the bluetooth & wi-fi you might even be able to push it even further. I’ll also be looking for ways that makes Windows 7 run faster so if you have tips let me know. I’ve already pruned the startup list of services (both in services.msc and msconfig) and turned the theming optimised for performance instead of presentation.

Read the review of the N210 two weeks later

19 Replies to “Samsung N210 Review”

  1. Hi, I’ve been looking into getting a netbook for a month or so and I’m probably going to get the Samsung N210 (if not the Samsung NC10) as it seems to have good reviews long battery life etc.

    I’ve just seen your review and it was really helpful. The only thing I was wondering about is how well it copes with video as I’ll want to use BBC Iplayer/youtube etc. When you get round to playing back video I would be interested to know how it copes. I know the NC10 is fine for video so I’m assuming this will be too.

    Thanks again for a useful review

  2. Hey Pat – cool review, and I particularly love the chargeable USB port… but I guess the big question is, did you write the review on the netbook? 🙂

    A couple comments on the software:

    You may not need Launchy anymore; the desktop search built in to the o/s is great, and a single press of the start button will immediately focus on the search box in the start menu, so you can start typing what you want. It works very similarly to like spotlight in OS X.
    Microsoft have also released their own virus checker called Microsoft Security Essentials. I don’t know if it’s better/worse than AVG but I prefer it because it feels more lightweight.

    Hope that helps!

  3. @Emily – I will definitely report back when I give it a go playing back some media. Will post anther comment soon.

    @Gerrod – I did indeed write the review on the netbook 🙂 Very easy to type.

    Thanks for the tip re: search. I’m still getting used to the differences. I find that Launchy is still much faster than the search, and it seems to remember my most used things all the time. I like the way that you can also create macro-like things to speed up some normal activities.

    I’ll have a look at the Security Essentials you sent. I had read a few things about it but popular opinion didn’t seem to have too much to say about it yet.

    Cheers!

  4. Patrick, best review thus far for the n210, very useful, many many thanks..

    looking to buy the n210/220, but i am unsure about the speed, for example, if one is to have open several web pages simultaneously, e.g outlook/bbc news/internet radio, will this slow down web surfing, similarly, when saving up to 100kb web pages as pdf files..

    For instance, how many seconds does it take to open up ‘bbc news’ web page, if you had this web page, another web page, & outlook email already open? considering the 1.66ghz & 1gb ram

    this will help me decide between the samsung n210 & the x120..

    thank you in anticipation..

  5. Hi Pat

    Great initial insight into the N210.

    I believe that this comes bundled with the ‘HyperSpace Instant On’ operating system. Have you had the opportunity to use this, and if so what did you think of it?

    Thanks, Kaal

  6. @Emily – I haven’t had any problems with iPlayer or youtube so far. I haven’t given it a go with other encoded media types just yet.

    @Billy – Installing applications/updates is noticeably slower than other machines I’ve used but once you’re up and running, opening new tabs, etc seems to be fine. BBC home page opens up in a couple of seconds (I don’t notice any difference in time) with other things running. I normally run with about four tabs so doesn’t seem too bad.

    @Kaal – I haven’t yet had an opportunity to use it in anger. It does start up pretty fast, though switching back to windows isn’t as fast as it says – it literally ends up loading windows (maybe that’s due to some configuration setting). However loading windows takes less than a minute, so probably not such a big deal.

  7. thanks patrick for your input, in the end, got tempted by the samsung x120, offer @ carphone warehouse for £399. larger screen & keyboard, but similar weight…best wishes Billy

  8. Just received my N220 red 🙂

    Fantastic machine, though my sleeve doesn’t have that “Samsung” text on the front 🙁 But well, gonna buy another one anyway 😉

    Thanks again for the review, Samsung must be happy to have good reviewers getting readers to buy their stuff :p

  9. hey thanks for your review

    am stl contmplating between n210 and n220. does te screen on the 210 tilt back enough to avoid neck strain? and do u know if you could un biblio software i.e. endnote on it?

    ta

  10. Brilliant review! I’ve already made my mind up about getting it because of Samsung’s excellent reputation of producing great LED screens, build quality and battery life. I always thought they could have improved the mouse especially making the buttons directly underneath separate when you need to right click, as I tried it out on the NC10 but later returned it because it was a bit too fiddly for me. On the Samsung website it stated that both the N210 and the N220 came with a 3G modem built in but when I contacted customer service this feature was not included at all, which I found disappointing. Are you on twitter? I’d love to follow you for more useful tips. Follow me @Tearoze and I’ll follow you too. Thank you for your insight, you did a great job!

  11. @Shai – The tilt goes back enough for me without neck strain. I’ve been using it on trains and it seems to work well. I’m not sure what you mean by the second question.

  12. I’ve had a 210 for about 2 weeks now and its brilliant in all ways, battery doesn’t run out all day and I do some minor development on it as well. I’ve wiped W7S as its crippling and put XP Pro on it and happy to say it runs everything I ever ran on my desktop, albeit slightly slower, but surprisingly not that much so. I’ve put 2 gig of ram in there which helps. I’ve now also put Ubuntu Netbook Remix on as a dual boot and that’s cool too except its a little tricky getting the wifi to work. I do have it working but it doesn’t seem to like all wifi routers for some unknown reason. I might get the car charger just in case but would love someone to invent a USB charger that charges the laptop from another USB device such as a mains adaptor USB or car USB or another PC, even, just to trickle charge it, would remove the need for every having a plug at all, just one slim cable. I’ve also bought a Liteon DVD writer and that works perfectly. I’ve converted AVI’s to DVD using Nero with no problem at all. External DVD’s are so light they easily fit in my netbook bag.
    All in all a perfect purchase, can’t fault it.

  13. I have had the Samsung N210 for 1 month and the battery life if great but one thing is if you want it to run faster you have to buy extra memory and plug in in yourself, which I think voids the warranty unfortunately. But you wouldn’t want to return this little baby anyway. Its a gem!

  14. Great review. Made the buy. Well pleased.
    One problem/question:
    The wireless is always on until turned off. OK, but on a flight when turning on the laptop after take-off the wireless is on, until turned-off – not allowed! Is it possible to change setting to have off, until turned on?
    Thank you
    Kind regards

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