Samsung N510 Nvidia Ion-based netbook
Decent HD performance in a mini-laptop at last?
Using either media player, the N510 managed perfect full-screen playback of 1080p MKV H.264 files, though only the Cyberlink player managed truly fluid playback of a 1080p QuickTime file at full screen. You really can't ask for more than that from a machine driven by an Atom processor.
Easy-access panels make DIY upgrades straightforward
The Nvidia chippage doesn't make a demon games machine out of this netbook, but the 3DMark06 score of 1303 is certainly an improvement over anything a little laptop fitted with Intel's standard Atom chipset can achieve.
Turning to our usual PCMark05 benchtests, the N510 gave a solid if not spectacular account of itself. It's run-of-the-mill CPU, Memory and HDD figures show this is a standard netbook in all aspects other than the screen and graphics.
The N510 currently ships with Windows XP, 1GB of DDR 2 memory and a 160GB HDD. As the machine only has a single memory slot, upgrading is restricted to yanking out the 1GB module and replacing it with one of twice the capacity. The HDD and memory slot are covered by a single easy-to-remove panel, so DIY upgrades should be painless.
When or indeed if Samsung plans to upgrade its netbooks to Windows 7 is a grey area at the moment, but a couple of retailers have told us they hope to see Windows 7 equipped N510s arrive in the UK in early December. It's also rumoured that the Windows 7 versions will have 250GB hard drives.
The design is restrained, if not to say conservative
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. Though you could always type the words 'ion', 'LE' and 'hack' into Google and see what comes up...