Samsung's N210, why it's one of the best netbooks around

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This article appeared in the June, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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Samsung's N210, why it's one of the best netbooks around

Rather than build on its predecessors' excellence, the N210 wipes the slate clean and starts afresh. The transformation sees it put on a few grams to tip the scales at a chunky 1.33kg, but the redesign sees it emerge looking more sharply tailored and business-like than ever before.

The lid gleams with a glossy grey pinstripe and a chrome strip skirts the edge of the laptop; for just $513, the N210 is a fine-looking netbook.

As with most of its rivals this month, the N210 adopts Intel's latest Pine Trail platform. The specification is almost identical: there's 1GB of memory, 250GB of storage, and casting an eye around the N210's sparkly chrome trim reveals three USB ports, a 10/100 Ethernet socket and an SD/MMC card reader; nothing there to lift it out of the ordinary. Performance is also in line with its rivals, as you'd expect given the identikit hardware, with a score of 0.3 setting the Samsung squarely among the rest of the Atom-powered pack.

Thanks to the large 5900mAh battery, though, there's enough stamina on tap to keep going for over nine hours of light use. Push it to its modest limits and Pine Trail's efficiency really shines through: even toiling away with the display brightness set to maximum, the N210 kept going for just short of six hours.

Even replacing the excellent keyboards of previous models with a new-fangled scrabble-tile effort comes off. There's a positive action at the end of every key stroke, and the broad spacing between each key reduces the risk of typos. In fact, the only thing we hankered after is a slightly bigger right shift key; we frequently found ourselves hitting Backslash by mistake.

The Samsung's appeal slips a little when it comes to the 10.1in screen, however: its matte finish reduces reflectivity but also adds a grainy quality to images. Combined with muted colour reproduction, it's enough to leave the N210 lagging behind the best.

Despite this, though, the N210 makes a worthy successor to the superb N110. The combination of gargantuan battery life, slick new looks and good ergonomics make it one of the best netbooks around.

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