Samsung N130 Netbook Review

ajmatson - 2009-12-19 09:33:13 in Mobile
Category: Mobile
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: March 25, 2010
Price: $249.99

Introduction:

In the world we live in, portability is becoming more and more one of the top decision-making factors on how we purchase electronics.  The biggest and baddest hardware you have was once a thing to show off, however, now portability is taking the cake. Now it is all about being more portable, while keeping that cutting edge. Before it was all about speed, as well, and now we want to see more battery performance for those long trips. Netbooks are making a good leap into the technological world. They are highly portable, which allow us to take them everywhere without having to lug a heavy device with us everywhere, keeping us tied down. They are designed to bridge the gap between your heavier notebook computers and the ever popular smart phones, so that you can be more productive and enjoy your time away from an outlet. To keep the balance of power and battery life, manufacturers select specially manufactured components to design their systems, in order to give you what you need. There are many netbook manufacturers that design netbooks, most with similar components, and then they add their own secrets to improve on the technology, to keep them competitive. Today, we are going to be taking a look at a netbook from Samsung, which is the N130. This netbook uses the Intel Atom processor for decent processing while remaining mobile with a long battery life. Let’s take a look at the Samsung N130 a bit closer and see what makes it have its edge.

 

 

Closer Look:

When I got the package, I thought to myself, man that box is small. Even when I received my Samsung Q310 Notebook, which is 13 inches, the packaging was a lot bigger almost the size you would see on a 17 inch notebook. I was so intrigued that I could not wait to get this netbook opened and out of the packaging. The box has the same look that their notebooks have, which is a generic-looking packaging with the model sticker attached, with all of the information on it. Once you get the box open, there are two parts inside. There is the netbook wrapped in a foam pouch and the accessory box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The accessory box has the necessary tools to get you up and running with your new netbook. Inside there are the instruction booklets and the warranty information, as well as the power adapter brick and wall plug. There is also the battery for the netbook. The N130 comes standard with a 6-cell 4000MAh battery, which Samsung claims will allow you to surf the web for up to six hours on a single charge. Unfortunately, Samsung did not include any extras such as the sleeve to protect your new netbook like they had on previous models like the NC10.

 

 

Now that we have the items out, let's take a better look at the unit itself.

Closer Look:

The Samsung N130 comes in several colors including white/blue, white/pink, and black. Today, we are looking at the all black one, which has a sleek design that brings fashion as well as power. The Samsung N130 housing has a curved corner design which makes the aesthetics more appealing. The battery, when plugged in, is flush with the netbook and does not protrude like some of the other netbooks on the market, making them bulky. The battery included with the Samsung N130 is a 6 cell, which is designed to work with the power saving software, to give you plenty of power when using your netbook. On the top of the N130 is the Samsung logo and on the bottom are the model and Windows key stickers. There is also the memory port cover which is easily removed by taking out one screw and prying it up. This allows you to change the memory module on the one slot. The Samsung N130 supports a maximum of 2GB DDR2 memory in a single module design, which will run at 533MHz. On the inside, there is an Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz with a 512MB cache and 533MHz BUS speed and HyperThreading support. The chipset that powers the platform is the Intel 945GSE + ICH7M that also provides the GMA 950 integrated graphics. There is a 160GB hard drive that is large enough for your data or to dual boot if that is your thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the ports on the Samsung N130, there are enough for any situation that you may encounter. On the front of the device, there is the power switch and a3-in-1 media card reader which will support SD, SDHC, and MMC cards, which is perfect for your cameras. Along the left side, there are the audio in and out ports, a USB 2.0 port, which I find is perfect to use with external DVD drives since it keeps it out of the way of an external mouse, a VGA port, and the wired LAN port, which supports up to 100Mbs connections. There is also a wireless LAN chip integrated, which supports 802.11B/G/N connections. There isn't Bluetooth, sadly, which would have been a cheap addition to the unit. Along the right side of the netbook, there are two more USB 2.0 ports, a Kensington lock slot, and the power port.

 

 

 

Opening the Samsung N130 reveals some of the features that make it stand out. While being tiny and compact, it is large enough for even someone like me who has large hands.  I have been able to use this keyboard with little issue because of the 93% keyboard size and certain details such as large sized shift, enter, and backspace keys, as well as the 17.7mm key pitch. There is a scroll pad which has the ability to do multi-touch with supporting applications, such as graphic zooming and a single button which uses a rocker design to separate the left and right clicks. On the left of the touchpad, there is an integrated microphone which works great with the webcam for conferencing and general video chat - such as Yahoo or Skype. There are also five LEDs, which are indicators for the power, HDD activity, wireless LAN, and caps lock. The webcam is a .3MP camera, which is a bit under powered - however, it gets the job done and does it well. There is no software to just take pictures or video with the camera included, however, there are many freeware applications out there that get the job done.

 

 

 

Specifications:

 

Operating System
Operating System Genuine Windows 7 Starter
CPU
CPU Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.6GHz)
System Memory
System Memory
Maximum System Memory
1GB DDR2
2GB DDR2
Display
LCD Technology 10.1" WSVGA 1024 x 600, LED Backlight
Graphics
Graphic Memory
Graphic Processor
128 MB Shared
Intel GMA 950
Multimedia
Speakers
Integrated Camera
1.5 W x 1
0.3 Mega Pixel
Storage
Hard Drive
Optical Disk Drive
160 GB, 2.5", 5400 RPM
No
Communication
Wired Modem
Wired Ethernet LAN
Wireless LAN
Bluetooth
No
10/100 BaseTX
802.11 b/g/n
No
I/O Ports
VGA
HDMI
Headphone-Out
Mic-in
USB 2.0
Multi Card Slot
Serial Port
RJ11 (Modem)
RJ45 (LAN)
PC CardBus Slot
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
3 USB 2.0
3 in 1 (SD, SDHC, MMC)
No
No
Yes
No 
Input
Keyboard Type
Touch Pad, Touch Screen
83 keys
Yes, No 
Security
Fingerprint Reader
Security Lock
No
Yes
Power
AC Adapter
Battery
40 W
6 Cell 4000 mAh 
Dimensions & Weight
Dimensions (W XH XD)
Weight, Including Std. Battery
10.7" x 7.4" x 1.08" ~ 1.17"
2.82 lbs. 
Warranty
Standard Warranty
1 Year Standard Parts and Labor
Software
Pre-Installed Software Magic Keyboard
Easy Display Manager
Easy Network Manager
Easy SpeedUp Manager
Samsung Magic Doctor
Samsung Update Plus
Recovery Solutions III
Easy Battery Manager
Easy Resolution Manager
Battery Life Extender
Adobe Acrobat Reader 8
Cyberlink YouCam
McAfee Internet Security 9.0 (60 Day Free)

 Note: All information taken from Samsung's website: http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/office/mobile-computing/netbooks/NP-N130-KA04US/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail&tab=spec

 

Features:

Testing:

I could not wait to break the netbook out of the box and start playing with it. To test this netbook, there are a series of benchmarks that I will run that will stress it and find out how it stands up to the rigorous uses on the processor and system as a whole. To put a comparison on how it stands up among other mobile devices, I will also include the scores of a Samsung Notebook and the new HP Mini 311, which is a new netbook with the NVIDIA ION GPU. All items will be run at their stock speeds, voltages, timings, and settings to keep any interference from messing with the scores or outcome.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Notebook:

 

Benchmarks:

 

Operating Systems:

With this being a Netbook, your computing resources are limited, so finding the best balance between the hardware and software takes a lot of work. The Samsung N130 comes preloaded with Windows 7 Starter edition, which, while a great operating system, is limited from the full version of Windows 7 - including locking the desktop wallpaper, limiting Aero features, and more. You also have the ability to perform a Windows Anytime Upgrade to another version of Windows 7, by either ordering a key through their website or by entering a valid upgrade key that you have purchased elsewhere.  Within a few minutes, the upgrade will be completed and it will restart with the new version of Windows 7 installed. You also have other operating systems you can install, such as Linux if that is your flavor. Below is a screen shot of Ubuntu 9.10 running on the Samsung N130 Netbook. You can install any version you wish, however, be mindful of driver issues as the Realtek card used with the N130 was not automatically recognized by Ubuntu and I had to download and compile a driver for the wireless network to use it on my own.

 

Now that we have the netbook set up and looked at, we can start the testing of it.

Testing:

CineBench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is better

 

Excel 2007 Big Number Crunch: This benchmark uses mathematics to perform complex calculations in Excel 2007, which puts a heavy load on the processor. The measurement is in seconds that it takes to complete the task. The benchmark is performed three times and then averaged for the final score.

Lower is better

 

Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.

Higher is better

 

In the Cimebench tests, the HP Mini tool a bit of a lead from the Intel chipset N130. When it came to raw speed of the CPU, the N130 closed the gap with Excel and Geekbench.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

Higher is better

 

Lower is better

 

For the ScienceMark test, the netbooks were within tenths of a score from each other. In HD Tune, the hard drive scores of the N130 and the Q310 laptop were close, however, the HP Mini - which was equipped with an SSD - blew all the rest away.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Processor Arithmetic

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

In Sandra, the lack of memory, compared to the 3GB in the HP Mini and the 4GB in the Q310, shows with higher latencies and lower cache and speed scores.

Testing:

Battery Life is very important when it comes to mobile devices. The longer you can be away from a plug, the more productive you can be or the longer the movie time you can enjoy, before having to recharge. To test the battery life, I fully charged each unit and went about my daily time playing on the internet, watching internet video, chatting, and more - which is basically what a netbook is designed for. I timed how long it took until the computer went into hibernation as battery power ran out. The SSD of the HP Mini gave a bit of a lead to it over the N130, however, the gap is small, considering the N130 is running a 5400RPM hard drive, which takes more power usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is better

 

Extras:

There are always extras when associated with computers, both off the shelf and what you can add to make them run faster. The Samsung N130 comes with several bits of software pre-loaded to help you out. Some work well and others needed to be removed from the start. The first thing I noticed and removed was the McAfee Anti Virus that was pre-loaded. It was so bad that I could barely run the netbook with it installed. Once it was removed, the N130 was faster and more responsive. I replaced MacAfee with Avast Free Edition and, to date, have not had any performance hits from it. Some of the other utilities that are included with the netbook are shown below.

Easy Utilities:

The Samsung computers that I have owned always have a set of utilities that are designed to make using your computer "Easier". These utilities are usually for display, power management, connectivity and more. Included with the Samsung N130 netbook are the Easy Display Manager, Easy Display Manager, Battery Mode Settings, and Samsung Update Plus.

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Utilities:

One of the other utilities that is included is AnyPC, which is a trial from Samsung that allows you to remotely control another PC from your netbook. This is useful if you are using it to admin a home computer or home server. Additionally, I downloaded and installed GMABooster, which is a great little utility that increases your integrated video speed to increase performance. This is all done without altering the voltage so your battery life is not affected. You can set it in increments of 166MHz which is the default, 250MHz which is the balanced setting and 400MHz which is the highest performance and the native speeds for the chipset so there is no extra wear on the system.

 

Conclusion:

I have been using the Samsung N130 for some time now and, while having an aging Atom processor, it still is powerful enough for my every-day usage. I have actually replaced my larger laptop with this netbook when I travel about. The only issues I have had are the flash video playback from internet sites. As everyone knows, the Adobe Flash codec is not yet optimized for netbooks (other than those with Ion Graphics such as the Mini 311), however, other video files play just fine - even at full screen. For productivity, I have been running Photoshop, Office 2007, and Dreamweaver on the Samsung N130 and it keeps asking for more. Since I upgraded to Windows 7 Professional, I have been able to use the full potential of the netbook for my everyday business and leisure tasks. What I used to need several devices to do, such as troubleshooting and fixing networks and servers, I have been able to consolidate using the Samsung N130. The battery life on this is awesome and, when managed right, gets me five to six hours. I plan in the future to install an SSD into the netbook and expect to see better performance and battery life out of it when I do. The only thing I would like to have seen added to this device is integrated Bluetooth, so that users can sync to their phones and transfer files or even use it for a modem connection between their phones and the netbook. The Samsung N130 Black Netbook, at the time of the review, has been seen for as little as $249 at Best Buy, which makes it very competitive given the performance that it does offer with the mobility. If you are looking for a low cost solution, I would highly recommend you look into the Samsung N130 netbook.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: