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Samsung N120 netbook

Samsung N120 netbook

Samsung's impressive N120 netbook marks the company's return to the Australian notebook market

After a two-year hiatus, Samsung has officially jumped back into Australia’s notebook market. The N120 is one of two new Samsung netbooks. It features a 10.1in display, a 160GB hard disk drive and 1GB of RAM. It also has an excellent full-size keyboard.

The Samsung N120 netbook is certainly stylish, featuring a gloss white finish and a sturdy build. The large hinge feels well built, and the chrome hinges are a nice touch. Importantly for a netbook, the N120's display exhibits minimal flex when twisted and the chassis feels strong, making it ideal for transporting.

Despite the small form factor, Samsung claims the N120 notebook features an "ergonomic design", with optimised key spacing and a large touchpad. It's certainly hard to argue with this — except when it comes to the touchpad. The Samsung N120's keyboard is one of the most comfortable we've seen on a netbook. Keys are well spaced and in their correct positions, and they provide excellent tactile response. The keyboard does lack a backlight for using it in the dark, which would have been a nifty inclusion. The touchpad is actually quite small, but your finger glides effortlessly across it and the scroll bar on the right works effectively.

The Samsung N120 netbook runs Windows XP SP3 and our review unit was powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, a 160GB hard disk drive, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and integrated graphics — all standard netbook fare. Despite the conventional hard drive the Samsung N120 is a very quiet machine. The underside of the notebook does get a little hot during prolonged use, however.

The Samsung N120 includes a D-Sub port, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks, a 3-in-1 flash card reader that supports MMC, SD and SDHC cards, and a Kensington lock slot. The lack of a Gigabit Ethernet port is disappointing at this price point, though many other netbooks on the market suffer from the same fate. Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi are both included.

In our iTunes test it took the Samsung N120 7min 53sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. This isn't a great result when compared to a more expensive, regular notebook, though it is quite good for a netbook and it is better than competing models such as the MSI Wind U120 and the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE.

The Samsung N120 has a 10in screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. The display itself is glossy and tends to reflect florescent light, though the white bezel surrounding the display isn't reflective at all.

A VGA webcam is housed above the display. Audio from the built-in speakers is excellent for a netbook — the Samsung N120 features a 2.1 sound system with 2 1.5W speakers either side of the display and a 1.5W subwoofer underneath. The unit does a very good job of reproducing music and movie audio compared to many competing netbooks.

Battery life is very impressive. In our battery test, where we loop a video file with the screen brightness at its highest setting, the N120's 6-cell battery lasted more than 4.5 hours; a great result. This test was conducted in high-performance mode, so you will get even better results by changing the Windows XP power settings.

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