3.5 star rating

Samsung N210 Review

Pros: Attractive multi-layered finish ; Excellent keyboard ; Matte display usable in sunlight ; Nearly 7 hours of battery life ; Good speakers;
Cons: Tiny mouse bar ; Poor Wi-Fi range ; Bottom gets hot;
The Verdict: This head-turning netbook offers long battery life, a well-designed keyboard, and good sound quality.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

Samsung’s N210 continues the company’s tradition of creating solid netbooks with good keyboards, excellent displays, and above average audio. What makes this $379 system stand out is its distinctive, scratch-resistant finish and an instant-on feature with a cool widget-based interface. However, the competition from Acer and ASUS is heating up, with both manufacturers offering long-lasting netbooks under $300. We mostly like this machine, but is it worth the relatively high price tag?

Article Continued Below

Design

The 2.8-pound N210 has a similar design to previous N series netbooks but with some welcome aesthetic flourishes. A textured pattern of small rectangles with rounded edges embedded in the pearl white lid (also available in black) is covered by a clear shell. This multi-layered treatment adds a sense of depth while warding off scratches. We’re also pleased that the N210 eschews fingerprint smudges both on the lid and the matte deck under it.

The transparent shell also creates a border around the bezel, and viewed from the side, echoes the shape of the chrome strip that borders the keyboard deck. Unfortunately, the power button is still a slide-switch on the front lip of the system; we prefer an easier-to-find button. In addition, SD cards still stick out a half an inch when inserted into the slot on the front edge.

Heat

One unwelcome change from previous Samsung netbooks is that the N210 gets noticeably warm. We measured temperatures between the G&H keys and the middle of the underside at 101 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. We measured even hotter temperatures by the front edge (110) and the vent (110). However, the touchpad stayed an acceptable 91 degrees.

Keyboard and Touchpad

In a departure from most earlier N series netbooks, the N210 has an island-style keyboard that stretches from edge to edge on the deck, with ample space between the keys. Though the style is different, the N210 delivered a good typing experience, offering springy tactile feedback. We were able to reach our normal typing rate right away. However, we noticed that keystrokes didn’t register every now and then, resulting in strange typos or a failure to execute commands on the first try.

The 2.5 x 1.6-inch touchpad is fairly large and allowed for smooth navigation of the desktop. Almost too smooth; the cursor moved a little bit too fast. Our biggest issue with this netbook is the small and narrow mouse bar. There’s a line to delineate the left and right sides, but it feels fairly cramped compared to other netbooks we’ve tested recently. We opted to use an external mouse after a few hours of use.

Samsung N210

Display and Audio

The N210’s 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 LED-backlit matte display offered bright colors and deep blacks despite the lack of a glossy finish. In fact, we were able to use the N210 comfortably in direct sunlight.

Vertical viewing angles were very good, as we were able to push the display all the way back—about 50 degrees from vertical—and not encounter color distortion. Horizontal viewing angles are a bit narrow, but two people will be able to share the screen with no problem.

Samsung made audio quality a priority in their N140, and the N210 follows in that system’s footsteps, pumping better than average sound from the small speakers tucked under the front lid of the netbook. At 60 percent volume the speakers were able to fill a medium-sized room while playing “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z. Even at 100 percent we didn’t notice any distortion.

Ports and Webcam

As with the N140, the N210 includes one chargeable USB 2.0 port on the left side. Otherwise, the port spread is typical for a netbook. On the left: the aforementioned chargeable USB 2.0, Ethernet, headphone, mic; on the right: VGA, 2 USB 2.0, Kensington lock slot; on the front: power switch, 3-in-1 media card reader.

The 0.3MP webcam delivered images with decent color and backlight balance. At this quality we weren’t surprised when our Skype friend noted that our image blurred each time we moved while chatting, even if it was slight. Samsung bundled CyberLink YouCam with the N210 for adding effects to stills and video capture, plus one-touch uploads to YouTube.

HyperSpace OS

Samsung N210One extra we were happy to see was the HyperSpace instant-on OS. Users can choose the default OS at boot—HyperSpace (by pressing F6) or Windows 7 Starter—and whether to turn on the operating system selector screen at startup. Once HyperSpace loads, you’re presented with a tabbed interface that includes the weather, Gmail, News, Twitter and other popular applications. A status bar at the top lets you view your battery life, audio volume, wireless network, and other status indicators, as well as a Google search box. You can also customize the interface with a few different apps.

Unfortunately, HyperSpace isn’t as instant-on as we’d like. After turning the machine on, it took 8 seconds for the OS selector screen to appear; after that, it took 36 seconds to fully boot into HyperSpace, and another 13 seconds to launch the browser to Google’s home page. All told, that’s nearly a minute, about as long as it takes a typical netbook to boot into Windows 7 Starter. One nice feature, though, is that you can switch from Windows 7 Starter back into HyperSpace in about 15 seconds.

Performance

The 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N450 CPU and 1GB of RAM delivered a score of 1,362 on PCMark05, about 100 marks below the category average. This score is close to the HP Mini 210 (1,365) but still trails the Toshiba mini NB305-N410 (1,383) and ASUS Eee PC 1001P (1,384) a bit. The Geekbench score of 925 is not only well above the netbook average (854) but the same score as the category-leading mini NB305.

We experienced snappy performance when we had 3 or 4 programs open, but the N210 struggled once we got up to 6 or 7 at one time. While writing this review in WordPad, we also ran Google Chrome with up to 4 tabs, Internet Explorer, Notepad, as well as Windows Media Player and encountered few problems. Once we upped the number of tabs in Chrome we noticed more lag.

The 250GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive completed the LAPTOP Transfer Test in 3 minutes and 44 seconds, for a speed of 22.7 MBps. This score is once again well above the average netbook (16.1) but also ahead of much of the N210’s competition, including the Eee PC 1001P (17.5), mini NB305 (20.6), and HP Mini 210 (17.3). The business-class HP Mini 5102 only beats it by 3 MBps (25.7).

Given this speed, we were surprised that it took the netbook 1 minute and 22 seconds to boot into Windows 7 Starter, but suspect that trialware loading at startup is the culprit more than the hard drive itself. The average is just 59 seconds.

With Intel’s integrated GMA 3150 graphics driving the N210, its 3DMark06 score of 153 isn’t surprising. The category average is 222, but that figure includes systems with Nvidia Ion graphics. When compared to other GMA 3150 (Pine Trail) netbooks, the N210 is average.

We were able to stream a standard definition episode of The Colbert Report but at full screen the clip hitched, even after buffering. Casual gamers will appreciate that gameplay on one of the included Shockwave titles—Dairy Dash—was surprisingly smooth and fast. However, when playing a Facebook game (Pet Society) our virtual creature moved sluggishly.

Battery Life and Wi-Fi

Samsung is slowly regaining the ground it lost in the battery life category with the N210. The netbook lasted 6 hours and 59 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, 45 minutes above the 6-cell average. While it lags way behind category leaders such as the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE-P (10:36), HP Mini 5102 (10:08) and the Toshiba mini NB305 (8:37), the N210 comes out ahead of the HP Mini 210 (6:37) and the Sony VAIO W (6:42). Seven hours will get most users through the day with moderate-to-frequent use.

At 15 feet from the router, the N210 achieved throughput of 21.1 Mbps, a smidge above the 21.1 average. Too bad the data rate dropped to just 10.5 at 50 feet, which is well below the 17.4 average and every other netbook we’ve tested this year. In other words, stay close to the router if you’re going to stream music or video.

Green Testing

Samsung N210It took the N210 just 2 hours and 12 minutes to fully charge the 6-cell battery, averaging 31.1 watts for a LAPTOP Battery Efficiency Rating of 9.8. This is well below the average netbook (17.1) and one of the most efficient of Pine Trail machines we’ve seen so far, bested only by the Eee PC 1005PE-P (9.3) and the Eee PC 1001P (8.2). The N210 has an EPEAT Gold rating, earning 21 of 27 points.

Software and Warranty

Samsung pre-loaded its usual suite of branded utilities and programs with the N210, including Recovery Solution 4, Easy Display Manager, Easy Network Manager, and Update Plus to keep each program up to date. There’s also the AnyPC client for remote access, CyberLink YouCam, and Microsoft Works. Trialware includes 60 days of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 Edition, McAfee SecurityCenter, and several Flash games.

Samsung covers the N210 with a one-year parts and labor warranty with 24/7 toll-free phone support. Click here to see how the company fared in our Tech Support Showdown.

Verdict

The Samsung N210 offers solid overall performance, close to 7 hours of battery life, and an attractive design. We also like the matte screen and loud speakers. However, this machine faces stiff competition from the ASUS Eee PC 1001P, which costs $80 less and lasts nearly 90 minutes longer on a charge. And the $399 Toshiba mini NB305 offers a better touchpad/mouse button combo and longer endurance for not much more money. The N210 is good, but it’s not the best.

Tags: Samsung N210, Samsung, netbook, notebooks, reviews, laptops

Technical Specifications
Samsung N210
www.samsung.com/us


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
CPU
1.66-GHz Intel Atom N450
Operating SystemMS Windows 7 Starter
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
RAM
1GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
2GB
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
250GB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
5,400rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
10.1
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
1024x600
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Intel GMA 3150
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
Shared
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Wi-Fi
802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
Learn More
Mobile Broadband
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; Headphone; Kensington Lock; Microphone; VGA
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
3
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
Learn More
Card Slots
3-1 card reader
Warranty/SupportOne-year parts-and-labor/24/7 toll-free phone
Size10.5 x 7.4 x 1.2 inches
Weight2.8 pounds
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE