The ports and sockets are netbook norm: three USB – one of which can set to charge devices even when the machine is switched off – 10/100 Ethernet, VGA port, SD card slot and Kensington lock. The 3.5mm audio jacks have moved to the left hand side and the two USB ports on the right moving towards the front of the machine, as the layout is different from the NC10 and N110/120. The on/off switch has shifted from the hinge end to the front of the chassis, which is a less appealing; the new switch feels cheap and isn't the easiest to use.
Some port positioning changes reveal this is more than a refresh
Under the hood you will find the same old Atom N270 chip running at 1.6Ghz with 1GB of RAM to play with. Again, as with all other Sammy netbooks the N140 only has a single memory module slot, so you won't be able to upgrade beyond 2GB. Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of an 802.11n Wi-Fi card and a built-in Bluetooth module.
The 84-key keyboard, touch-pad and click bar continue the Samsung tradition of ergonomic netbook excellence. Samsung's netbook keyboards are quite simply the best around, but we do wish the touch-pad had more gesture controls beyond basic vertical scrolling and pinch-to-zoom.
For some reason Samsung has moved the built-in microphone from the hinge mounting to right next to the click-bar. That's great in that its closer to your mouth but bad in that it picks up the click-bar's rather loud action. Equally curious is Samsung's decision to downgrade the N140's web cam from the usual 1.3Mp to 0.3Mp. Like the NC10, the N140 has a 10.1in matt effect backlit LCD screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution. It's a cracking example, being sharp, clear and colourful.
When we ran PCMark05 and compared the results to the Lenovo S-10 we tested recently, the N140 produced a rather rather poor CPU score which didn't come as too much of a surprise since the S10 not only uses the faster N280 Atom chip but also has a front side bus clocked at 800MHz compared to the N140's 533MHz. The N140 performed well enough in the HDD and Memory tests though and managed to chomp through the Gimp Gaussian Blur test in an impressive 4.1 seconds.
Windows 7's demands take the shine off performance
Numbers aside in day-to-day use the Windows 7 N140 does feel just a little slower than the XP-based N110/120 machines we tested earlier in the year but if given the choice we would still tend to go with 7 even in cut-down Starter form which does without the fancy Aero effects and Windows Media Server. Buying a new PC and then having to spend your time gazing at an OS that looks like it was designed when you were in short trousers – and lets face it, it surely was – really gets a bit tiresome after a while.
But is it worth an upgrade?
I own an NC10 and adore it but it does struggle with playing movies at times and the sound from that mono speaker is pretty weedy, but that aside it does everything I could ask it to do and everything I would realistically expect from a netbook.
All these Samsung models, is it actually worth upgrading to any of them if you already have a perfect good NC10?
My point was more on the lines of "if they can't produce something better almost a year later, why isn't the price falling"... It seems to be the opposite, actually?
... with the positive comments about the NC10 and what you can make it capable of with the right software codecs. I've even used it to crunch through a couple of hundred thousand records in a complex Access query and to be honest, it surprised me that it didn't fall on it's ass right away let alone actually complete the job. Slowly, but it did it.
Really made me evaluate exactly what I'm paying for with high end PC's/laptops and what I'm convincing myself i'm using them for. Christ it survived two drops onto a hard surface off of a dinning table with a scratch!
I do agree that Samsung missed a trick not levering more resolution and a 3G slot into this update. Especially as they aren't spec'ing under the XP restrictions and clearly profits have come first with this machine.
But, when my (well, my wife's now, who am I kidding?!), NC10 goes pop the latest Samsung equivalent will be the first thing I'll go for. Be it this or something in five years.
Love my NC10...
...which by the way runs Win7 with similar performance to XP, even with all the Aero bells and whistles turned on, so not sure why the N140 seems to struggle.
Tempted by the better battery life, but baffled as to the webcam downgrade, and it's a shame the nice blue power button on the hinge end is gone. Think I'll be waiting for Samsung to produce a true NC10 replacement...
Its a fair cop guv. The NC10 does indeed have two 1w stereo speakers rather than one, though the extra power and larger, forward facing speaker grilles of the N140 do still give it an edge in the sound stakes. The N130 definitely only has the the one speaker.
@ J3 - that is why the Eee 1000HE got 90% and an Editor's Choice award.