My First Ever Hardware Review : The Samsung N150 Netbook

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I love gadgets. I didn’t have one until yesterday. Okay, I do have an HP laptop and an LG dumbphone since two years, but neither is the kind of stuff I’d call a gadget.

Yesterday, I got my first ever gadget gadget – a Samsung N150 netbook! I’m a big fan of netbooks – they’re tiny, light, and they won’t toast your crotches, like my Pavilion has frantically tried to do ever since I bought it. India being a poor country, you’d expect netbooks to be wildly popular and available everywhere. Nope. They are available, but for a I-want-this-model-only freak like me, this is not the place you go shopping for netbooks.

After reading tons of online reviews, checking out the design and battery life of various models, and asking 279 real world people about a good netbook (everyone was like, WTH is a net-thing!), I zeroed in upon the Asus EEE-PC 1005P. It was not to be found anywhere I and my sister and me brother-in-law looked, Bangalore included. My next choice was the Toshiba NB305, which is very popular with netbook critics for superb build quality and all. It was not to be found anywhere I and my sister and my brother-in-law looked, Bangalore included. My third choice was the Samsung N210, which promises EEE-PC like 11 hours of battery life. It was not to be found anywhere I and my sister and my brother-in-law looked, Bangalore included. Choice no. 4 was the Samsung N150. It was not to be found anywhere I It was found, and shipped to me!

So here I am, on my first ever netbook, writing my first ever review of the first ever cool gadget I’ve ever owned. I hope not to doze you off this post. 🙂

Specs

One reason why I was not so keen on the N150 was because the specs mentioned by Samsung were not quite up there with the other three models. It had a 160GB hard drive, no Bluetooth, only 8.5 hours of claimed battery life, etc. However the model I’ve received (still labelled as N150), has spicier specs, namely

  • 2 GB memory, instead of just 1 GB
  • a 250 GB hard drive, that gets an impressive 5.8 Windows experience rating
  • Bluetooth (not that I use it much, but still useful for some quick file transfers with my dumbphone)
  • The Samsung battery life enhancer software, which allows your netbook to sleep using very little power

Software wise, there’s the disgusting Windows 7 Starter with a boatload of crap tools (and McAfee, for crying out loud!) which I’ve removed already. I’m also fancying a move to Jolicloud or Ubuntu Netbook Edition. So, all this software talk can be put to rest for now.

Heat

Heat was one of major issues with my HP Pavilion laptop (The CPU would get to 95C temperature, and the casing over 70C). That’s all but gone with this netbook. It just doesn’t get hot! The vent of the left side admittedly gets a bit warm, which is quite expected and not uncomfortable at all.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is quite comfortable. It’s small for my huge hands, but I type with two fingers (still!) so that’s not much of a problem for me.

The touchpad is quite another story. It’s as big as a fifth of my palm, and it’s weird! Maybe it’ll be better after I peel the sticker off it, but it just feels so tiny and stupid. Those multitouch gestures are quite fun, but my two fingers are huge enough to cover the entire touchpad and cause undesirable clicks and all. I think Samsung could’ve moved the keyboard a little bit up and made the touchpad larger.

Display

Matte finish for the win! Seriously! With my HP laptop it was always frustrating to see my face on the screen all the time, unless I was in some super dark room doing super secret stuff. 😉 That’s totally gone, and I can even use this netbook on the balcony in broad daylight. I love non-glossy screens.

Battery

All of the other three models I was looking for would apparently last for 7 or more hours. This one doesn’t. I’ve been using it off and on since yesterday night, and so far it’s been running for about 5:15 hours on roughly 85% of the battery charge. Usually it should last 6 hours or more with the ‘Samsung Optimized’ or ‘Power saver’ power plans and normal usage, but for me it’ll probably max out at 5:30 hours as I plug in my EVDO modem to access the internet all the time. Still, anything above five hours is huge. My previous laptop lasted 2 hours on battery when it was new, and now it barely stays over six minutes.

Price

It cost roughly Rs. 18,000, which is quite cheap in my opinion. However, once again the ASUS 1005P is cheaper at Rs.17,500 and yet has longer battery life. Samsung’s hardware and design is quite better than that of ASUS, so that little extra cost shouldn’t hurt that much.

Everything else

That’s all I had to say in my review. If you want to read an actual Samsung N150 review, you’ll find it here.

Lets wrap it up

So here’s my view of the Samsung N150 in short –

PROS

  • Tiny and lightweight (applies to all similar netbooks)
  • Sturdy build; feels good in your hands
  • Non-glossy display
  • Nice keyboard
  • Enough USB and other ports, decent webcam, and all those petty hardware things
  • Doesn’t get hot
  • Fully supported by Jolicloud, and nearly fully supported by Ubuntu Netbook

CONS

  • Battery life could be better, especially as the rivals (and even Samsung N210) provide 7+ hours of battery life
  • Touchpad. Oh my God.
  • The Intel Pinetrail Atom processor. (applies to all similar netbooks)
  • Windows 7 Starter and all the added crapware

I’m very strict, so I’ll give the Samsung N150 a 7 out of 10, which should be taken as really good. Of course, I wish I had tried other netbooks so I could compare them all, but I haven’t and you’ll need to rush to Laptop Magazine and similar other websites if you’re looking for comparing stuff. And never come back for hardware reviews before August, 2012, because there won’t be one. Have a good day. 🙂