Before we leave the keyboard its worth noting that Samsung has chosen to put the N120's microphone in the main body of the device next to the right-hand screen hinge, above the Insert key. This was a less-than-inspired idea because in that position it proved particularly prone to picking up the clicks of the keyboard. The penny only dropped after a person we were chatting to on Skype asked what the soft clicking noise in the background was – it was us, typing while we talked.
Inside, a bog-standard netbook spec
The N120 is powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor with 1GB of DDR 2 memory and has a 160GB 5400rpm Sata hard drive. The latter is actually divided up into two equal spaces as the C and D drives, a move we suspect has something to do with Samsung's bundled idiot-proof Recovery Solution III application which makes a mirror image of the former – which the N120 uses as its default hard drive - and copies it onto the latter. Wireless connectivity is provided by an Atheros 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR.
As is becoming increasingly common today the N120 is only available with one OS and, for good or ill that's Windows XP.
Though the N120's screen specification isn't remotely out of the ordinary – its a back-lit LED display measuring 10.1in corner to corner and has a resolution of 1024x600 - its shape is less common. At 224 x 126mm, it's a perfect 16:9 ratio, though since the resolution isn't, this is no advantage to movie viewers. While the NC10 has a matte screen finish, the one here is glossy and thus highly reflective. Whether this is a step forward or back depends on your personal taste - in daylight reflections can be rather annoying but on the other hand videos look more sharp with more vivid colours.
With video playback such a major part of the N120's raison d'être we decided to start our tests with some HD video files to see how it fared. The N120 struggled badly with a 1080p H.264 file - both at full screen and in-window, and using both QuickTime and VLC – suffering from major frame drop and regularly seizing up. We had better luck with a 1080p .AVI file which played perfectly at full screen using VLC as did a 720p WMV video. All the videos that played were commendably crisp, clear and colourful while the screen itself has plenty of brightness on offer.
Tweak to eke out your runtime
When we ran 3DMark06 we came up with a score of 83. That's nothing to write home about but its not an unreasonable performance for a machine fitted with Intel's GMA950 integrated graphics core. As an average figure it also just shaded the Asus Eee PC 1008HA Seashell.
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