Ticks all the right boxes, almost
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.