The netbook with a notebook keyboard
Review If you can live with the price, relatively fragile hard drive and Windows then the Samsung NC10 is, without doubt, one of the best netbooks currently available. However, Samsung has decided that its range needs to address the parts of the market that other netbooks don't reach and with that in mind it has launched the N120, an Atom-based mini laptop finessed, fettled and tweaked to provide a generally more fulfilling multimedia experience.
Samsung's N120: netbook screen, notebook keyboard
Out of the box, you'd have to lay the N120 side-by-side with the NC10 to spot the difference. At 272 x 188.5 x 29.8mm there isn't that much between them, the new machine being 11mm wider, 3mm deeper and just under 1mm thinner than the old one. The same goes for the weight, the 1.28kg N120 being just a shade lighter than the 1.33kg NC10.
A more obvious difference is that the case of the N120 is rendered in a matte finish rather than the gloss of the NC10 or the Dell Inspiron Mini 12, making it less of a fingerprint magnet.
The basic layout of the N120 sticks to the format established by Samsung's first netbook, with a single USB port, VGA connector, power button, Kensington lock, and 3.5mm microphone and headphones jacks on the right side, and another two USB ports, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet and power jack on the left. On the front right of the chassis sits the machine's single flush-fitting three-in-one memory card slot.
The N120 lacks anything in the way of a physical Wi-Fi switch making do with a keyboard command - Fn-F9 in this case – but you do get a handy row of seven LEDs that let you know what your machine is doing.
The matte styling masks fingerprints
Dig about in the Bios settings and the two USB ports on the left can be set to charge devices even when the machine is switched off. This feature is hardly likely to work wonders for the battery life but still strikes us as useful, especially for frequent travellers used to scampering around airports in the quest for a power socket to re-charge their phone.
as someone who has dropped a running SSD Acer Aspire 1 down a flight of stairs I can see where El Reg is coming from. Netbooks are first and foremost portable, and portable means having to withstands knocks, bangs and drops. I wouldn't treat a £370 Samsung with the same disregard as a £200 AA1, and that's exactly why I bought the AA1. If I want to carry around something that I have to treat with kid gloves I'll my cart MacBook around with me. More reason I suspect to start calling machines like the NC10 and N120 "mini-laptops" and machines like the AA1 and Dell Mini 10v - btw, can we get a review of this soon? - "netbooks".
Fragile disc? + performance
Huh? What you talking about? Nothing wrong with the NC10 disc. Sure it's a disc and not an SSD, but unless you're going to be playing Frisbee with the thing it's perfectly fine.
Piro - Have you actually tried an Atom based PC?
Sure they're not gaming rigs, but hell, my NC10 is running Windows XP whilst playing 720p HD material, streamed over WiFi and upscaled to my 1080p telly perfectly smooth all with software codecs!! (and actually it does play many older games quite nicely). Hardly underpowered in performance terms for the job it's designed for, but it is low powered in wattage terms. This is why Atom processors are in my opinion going to be ideal for low powered, quiet HD HTPCs.
Sure £300 to £400 can get you a decent spec PC (as long as Apple's name isn't on it). Fine, in a netbook this size? Hmm, thought not.
Anyway, if your experience of Netbooks are those crappy "cut down linux" based budget EeePcs, then try these higher spec machines running XP, Win7 or even Ubuntu.
Depends on you expectations though. If you want top spec gaming rig in a netbook size device that's not a 300W heater and won't burn through the desk, then you're in for a disappointment. For everyone else who wants a highly portable, low powered, device for web, email, the odd document, taking to meetings, and watch a few vids on a flight, etc, these are ideal.
Not a netbook
I don't think netbooks are purely defined by size. Like others have said it's also the price.
To me a netbook is the best tech I can get with a 10" max screen for less than £200.
Anything more than £200 and I will consider a small notebook.
Still waiting to see what ION and ARM do to the netbook market when competitive products role out.