3 New Netbooks: 1 HP and 2 Samsungs

Samsung N140


The glossy LCD panel used on the Samsung N110 cost it a fifth star. Now Samsung has seen the light (reflecting off the screen, no doubt), and gone back to a matte-surfaced LCD panel with the N140.

The resolution is good for a display this size – 1024 x 600 pixels.The panel uses TN technology, with a response time equivalent to 5ms. Consequently, the upper and lower angles of vision are narrow, with response that’s good enough for use with office applications and movies.

As usual, to our boundless chagrin, the default colors are poor, with a strong colorimetric shift towards blue.

The contrast is as poor as on preceding netbooks from Samsung, with a rate of 289:1 measured for a black level of 0.71 nits and a white level of 205.7 nits.

The Samsung N140 has the challenging task of being the official successor to the NC10 in Samsung’s netbook range and in the hearts of purchasers. The NC10 was a big success and is still a valid choice, since its configuration is close to that of the newer models, but at a lower price. The N140 comes armed with a better touchpad and longer battery life, and has kept the NC10’s matte-surfaced LCD panel, which is a real advantage on a netbook.

First impressions, design

Available in black or white, the Samsung N140 has restrained, elegant looks. All the plastics are matte-finished, which is a very good feature if you don’t like having to constantly wipe dust and fingerprints off your netbook. Only the lid has a hard-to-keep-clean gloss-black finish. The white version seems to avoid that problem, though, with its pearlescent white finish, similar to that on the N110 and NC10.

The finish on this machine is faultless. A thin silvery border surrounds the chassis and adds a finishing touch of elegance, which is picked up by the touchpad.

The keyboard takes up all the available width. Its feel is without doubt one of the best we’ve seen so far on a netbook of this size. You get used to it very quickly and typing is soft, fast, and quiet.

The touchpad is also superb. It’s fast, precise, responsive, a pleasure to use and a good substitute for a mouse in many situations. The click buttons underneath the touchpad are exceptional.

The Webcam produces good images; the colors and contrast are fairly good, but brightly lit areas burn out, and fluidity is poor.

Sound capture is poor because of the microphones’ location, left of the touchpad.

Like on the N130, the fan is quiet and doesn’t ramp up into maximum speed like on other netbooks. The noise from the fan is muffled and inaudible.

Equipment is standard for a netbook – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, of course, along with a trio of USB ports, VGA, Ethernet, headphone and microphone inputs, and a Kensington lock connector. The on/off button is on the front, along with a 3-in-1 memory-card reader.

Under the computer is a panel for access to the RAM module. Like on most netbooks, accessing the other components means you need to take the machine apart.

Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz)
Graphics Chipset
Intel GMA 950
Memory/Hard Drive
1 GB/160 GB
10.3" x 7.3" x 1"-1.1"/2.8 pounds

RJ45, VGA, air exhaust, USB, mic, headphone

Microphone (for Webcam), touchpad, and click buttons

2 USB 2.0, anti-theft, power connector

On/off switch

Processing power

The processor used is an Intel Atom N270. It’s a classic in netbooks and its performance held no surprises.

Compared to our reference computer, the Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Xi3650, a standard netbook equipped with this processor scores 20 (as indeed this one did). With no antivirus installed, the N140 booted up in 42 seconds with the factory installation.

The chipset associated with the processors in the N series (N270 and N280) won’t decode HD video. If you want to be able to, you’d do better to look at the Samsung N510, for example, which has an NVIDIA ION chipset that’s perfectly suited to that type of use.

Games and audio

The N130 and the N140 are identical when it comes to their CPU and graphics chipsets, so it makes sense that their respective gaming capacities are identical, too. Unless you're rocking a netbook with an Nvidia ION chipset you’ll have to settle for old 3D (Quake III, Warcraft III, etc.) or 2D games.

The sound from the speakers is poor. You’d do better to use a good pair of headphones with the audio output, which is fairly clean.

Mobility and battery life

We had fairly high expectations of the Samsung N140, and we weren’t disappointed. It clocked a slightly better battery life than its older brother the NC10, at 5 hours, 29 min., or 30 minutes more! By comparison, the Samsung N110 clocked 6 hours, 4 min., the Toshiba NB200 6 hours, 10 minutes, while the Wind U115 left the others in the dust with a minimum battery life of 7 hours.

The 6-cell battery is well integrated and protrudes only slightly under the machine. At 2.8 pounds, the N140 is 0.4 ounces heavier than the Compaq Mini 110 and 0.3 ounces lighter than the Dell Mini 10.

Samsung N140
  • Matte-surfaced LCD panel
  • Large, comfortable keyboard
  • Large touchpad, fast and precise
  • Good battery life
  • Restrained, elegant looks
  • Poor-quality LCD panel
  • Poor default colors
  • No HD video playback

Samsung finally has a worthy successor to the NC10 in the N140, even if it’s short on new additions. The touchpad is better and user comfort is very good. Aside from the netbook-typical limited performance, the audio and display quality still need improvement.

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  • dupaman
    Thanks for continuing to harp about glossy plastics and displays (and giving positive feedback to models that offer matte), but I think few will agree that "[1024 x 600 pixels] is good for a display this size".
  • christop
    I hate the wifi switch on the front edge it is stupid. Whats the point of it you can turn it off with the os...
  • Anonymous
    @dupaman: I agree!
    I was very pleased with my Asus EeePC 1000H, but constantly ran into pop-ups and apps that simply don't fit (even default Windows pop-ups), so i very quickly got rid of it again.
    The display resolution of netbooks needs to be at least 1280x800 before i even begin to think about buying myself another one.
    Or the Sony VAIO TT needs to drop seriously in price. It's a little bigger (13") but has everything i expect from every subnote/netbook manufacturer these days. (and why isn't Bluetooth a default on ALL net/notebooks nowadays..)
  • Anonymous
    Specs for Samsung n140 claim it has the 280, not the 270 processor.
    Colors: Amazon.com carries only burgundy and blue lid colors for the n140, yet this review claims the machine is available in black and white. Some reviews out there [the Samsung Forum for the N140, U.S. model] claim the U.S. 140 does NOT have blue tooth.
    processor speed- which is it?
    colors available- what are they?
    blue tooth- yes or no?
    Thanks to anyone who can clear this up.
  • Anonymous
    This model has an LED backlit panel, not TFT backlit.. that is def. a huge plus
  • Anonymous
    I have this net book and believe it is excellent you neglected to comment that it also comes with easy access bluetooth a 5in 1 card reader which is as far as im aware unusual and many other features to allow connectivity personally I think this is a very good travel work station it encompasses everything you need for transfer of data and is small enough and light enough for train use etc I have found this netbook to be the most enjoyable i have used althought i would agree on the sound quality i thin it has been designed very well with the battery acting as an upstand allowing better cooling and a much improved typing position.