Continuing our tour of the N120 to the underside, we found a cover for the memory slot secured by an easily removable single screw. Usefully for the novice, Samsung's user guide includes detailed instructions about how to whip out the standard 1GB card and replace it with a 2GB one.
Customary port array
There's a fan exhaust situated between the Ethernet port and USB ports on the left-hand side. So quiet is the fan on the N120 that we only noticed it had one when we felt a warm breeze against a hand one evening when holding the machine in our lap. The HDD is also one of the quietest we have comes across in a netbook, making the N120 more or less silent in use.
Some may think the unusually thick screen bezel – a by-product of having such a large keyboard and a 10.1in screen together in the same chassis – has left the N120 well and truly beaten with the ugly stick, but in the flesh – or plastic – we didn't think it was that much of a blemish especially as the extra space around the screen is put to good use housing the N120's stereo speakers.
Other than the bezel, the only aesthetic let-downs are the faux chrome strips along the side of the base and the huge sticker announcing DIGITAL LIVECAM that sits next to the 1.3Mp webcam lens above the screen. The latter really does look cheap and nasty. Other than that, the N120 is a well made, solid and handsome bit of kit.
The next thing you will notice about the N120 is the size of the 84-key keyboard. According to Samsung, the machine has a "full-size 12in notebook-style keyboard with optimised key spacing". Whatever, it's the largest keyboard we have come across on a netbook – including the 12in Dell Mini - and it makes the N120 a very, very easy machine to use. It's a nicely made and weighted keyboard too, with a crisp and positive action and very little flex.
The keyboard's nice large and easy-to-use keys... as is the touchpad
The touchpad is a shade larger than the NC10's too, at 63 x 35mm to the older model's 60 x 30mm. The button bar below it stands a little more proud of the surrounding chassis. The extra size makes the pad easier to use than the NC10's is, and though the spiral scroll function was a bit hit-and-miss you do get a handy vertical scroll bar and pinch-to-zoom. The button bar itself is nicely weighted, with a positive and clean action.
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.
It probably performed the same in VLC and Quicktime because VLC will use the cpu-bound Quicktime decoder if it's available.
@ Jimbo 7
The Sony Vaio P has a nipple but, unfortunately, remortgaging your house so that you can afford one just isn't as easy as it used to be. ;-P