Samsung N510 Nvidia Ion-based netbook
Decent HD performance in a mini-laptop at last?
Review You don't have to dig too deep to see that the diversity of Samsung's netbook range is a case of flattering to deceive. Sure, there are plenty of them, but the differences are essentially peripheral and cosmetic with all bar the NC20 having 10.1in screens and the usual netbook-norm Intel Atom chippery.
Samsung's N510: a full res screen without a weak Z-series Atom CPU
The N510, however, diverges from the pattern established by the NC10 and replicated in such machines as the N110, N120 and N310 in that it uses Nvidia's Ion LE graphics chip - along with a 1.66GHz Atom N280 CPU - and an 11.6in, 1366 x 768 display.
Despite the hidden differences, externally the N510 is quite clearly a Samsung. The design is restrained, if not to say conservative, and the only colours available are white and black. As with previous Samsung netbooks, the build quality is of a high standard. You get the feeling this is a machine that will take whatever life throws at it.
Easy-on-the-eye blue status lights abound, as do icons telling you what all the ports are for, together making this an ideal machine for anyone who loses sleep over whether or not they have left the Caps Lock key engaged or worry should they try to stick USB devices into HDMI or LAN ports.
Beyond the usual netbook array of three USB ports, three-in-one memory card reader, 3.5mm audio jacks, VGA port, Bluetooth, 1.3Mp webcam and 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, the N510 also serves up 802.11n Wi-Fi and said HDMI port.
Still reasonably compact, despite the bigger screen
The installation of an 11.6in screen hasn't had too drastic an impact on the N510's size. Yes, at 289 x 199 x 26.5-30.3mm and weighing 1.5kg, it is both larger and heavier than the N110 and N120, but not monstrously so. If you managed to carry either of the older machines around without a problem, you'll be able to do the same with the N510.
Why should I watch a 1080p movie on a screen that natively supports only 720p?
Glossy screens FTW
OK, under some circumstances, reflections on glossy screens can be annoying*. However the colour saturation on the glossy screens I have used tends to be much better and that matters to me, particularly for viewing photographs.
I opted for the glossy screen on my MacBook Pro and I'm glad I did. It's the best laptop screen I have ever used.
The ideal situation would be for manufacturers to offer a choice as Apple does. Neither is better, it just depends what you use them for.
* I live in Yorkshire and the sun only shines for a few days each year so it is rarely a problem up here.
Solid performer, no surprises
I bought a N510 to replace my "ageing" but useful little NC10. I wanted ThinkPad build quality, matte screen, solid keyboard and - yes - XP. You can tell I'm over 25. The N510 does not disappoint. The LED screen is bright and pin sharp with significantly more real estate than its predecessor, plus a long haul battery with minimal weight penalty.
Business apps performance is fine and it's nice to be able to plug it into a big telly via HDMI and stream iPlayer.
The only downside was having to spend the first hour removing bloatware. Blimey, I'd hoped those days were over. Other than that, well done Samsung. 9/10.
"It's worth noting that the Ion LE chip only supports DirectX 9, so if you decide to upgrade from XP to Windows 7, you aren't going to see any improvement in graphics performance."
Why would DX11 support improve performance ? DX11 gives you extra effects in games and I doubt the 9400m & Atom are going to be running many DX11 effect in full res games.
Sim card slot?
When are they going to bring out a netbook with a decent screen, decent gfx, decent battery and a build in sim card slot? I'm sure if i put a dongle into one of these it'll snap off within days...