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Samsung N130 Netbook Review – Very Usable, Long Lasting Netbook

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Phoenix Technologies has loaned us a Samsung N130 netbook, complete with their FailSafe service, and after several weeks of using it in place of my HP Mini 1000. Despite some small issues I found the Samsung N130 to be a very capable netbook

Samsung cover1

The first thing that struck me about the N130 as I removed it from the Samsung box was the color scheme; blue and white. I didn’t like it at all; the two tone color combination gave a “leapfrog-like” look to the netbook that made me a bit self conscious carrying it into the local Panera.

Samsung N130 openDespite my dislike of its two tone paintjob, the build of the Samsung N130 is top notch. During day to day use it is light enough that it is portable but you don’t worry that a bump or a flex will cause it to fall apart. The first thing I noticed when I lifted the N130 out of the case is how well it fits into your hand. Not only does it fit well, thanks to the battery which bumps out slightly, but the cover isn’t a glossy fingerprint magnet like the lid of my HP Mini. The matte cover keeps the exterior of the netbook looking clean and feels nice to the touch too. Another nice touch is the small lip in the middle of the lid which makes it easier to open N130.

Once you open the Samsung N130 you’ll notice that the cover isn’t the only thing that’s matte. The N130 comes with a 10.1″ matte screen capable of 1024×600 resolution. I can’t express how happy I am to see a matte screen on a netbook instead of the glossy finish every manufacturer feels compelled to include. This option, combined with the ability to open the lid further than my Mini 1000, made working on the go much easier; even in the car on a sunny day.

During my normal usage of writing, surfing the web, working in Word and recording some video with the built in webcam I found that the battery lasted right around 5 hours. To achieve this battery life I used the standard battery model that the netbook shipped with which had a dimmed but still usable screen on battery power. One little touch I liked here was that if I stopped using the N130 for a short time the screen would dim to the lowest setting but not turn completely off. This saved the battery at times when I was brainstorming or was interrupted by conversation.

Aside from my issues with the paint job I had some trouble adjusting to the keyboard and the trackpad. I’ll admit that after typing several hundred thousand words on the Mini 1000′s keyboard switching to anything else presents a small challenge but even after extended use I found the placement of the Page up and Page down keys to be troublesome; I also found out that Ctrl+Page Up or Down switches tabs in Firefox. The page keys are located above the small right and left arrow keys which meant that I often found myself accidentally skipping to the end of a document or jumping to a new tab in Firefox. On a small keyboard like this moving the page up and down keys to a function key-combo would be much better. The second problem I had with the keyboard is that the backspace key (one I use a lot) is smaller than on other netbooks. This led to more than a few “=” being typed when I wanted to delete an item. The rest of the keyboard performed well with plenty of tactile confirmation and spacing to type comfortably.

pageupdownbackspace

For the most-part I liked the trackpad; I found it responsive, of usable size and the buttons are on the bottom where they belong. The only issue I had was that there is little difference in the palmrest and the touchpad which makes finding the pad troublesome at times.

trackpad1

It possible that both of these issues could be overcome with practice and in the case of the trackpad a bit of clear nail polish to mark the edge of the palmrest, but you may want to take a look at your typing style or practice before purchasing the Samsung N130.

Pros

  • Solid Build
  • 5-Hour battery life
  • Matte screen
  • Matte cover
  • Responsive trackpad; mouse buttons at bottom

Cons

  • Two tone paint job
  • Small backspace key
  • Page up and Down key placement
  • Hard to know where trackpad starts

The Samsung N130 is available at Amazon.com for $279.99 and thanks to the battery life, matte screen and others is an attractive entry level netbook.

As tested the Samsung N130 was running Windows XP and had the following specs.

  • 1.6GHz Intel N270 Atom Processor
  • 1GB Memory
  • 160GB Hard Drive
  • 10.1″ LED Widescreen Display
  • Intel GMA 950 Graphics
  • No optical drive
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 VGA port
  • Ethernet port
  • Headphone port
  • Microphone port
  • Webcam
  • Microsoft XP Home (SP3)

Additional images:

front angle

backend

Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.

19 Comments

  1. helper2

    December 22, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I can't connect to the wireless internet on EWIRE modem. OS is windows 7, anyone else having the same issue?

  2. paul

    December 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    AFAIK it comes in other colours, too.

  3. rogerwillson

    December 28, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Not sure yet. It came with Windows 7 Starter. Not decided on how much I like it. Probably needs the 2GB upgrade for smoother performance.

    r4i kaart

  4. diabl2master

    January 29, 2010 at 4:20 am

    nice =]]]

  5. cheap dsi r4

    February 1, 2010 at 3:09 am

    I think this is a good computer as long as you know what you are looking for.I have bought this one and it came with Windows 7 Starter and probably needs the 2GB upgrade for smoother performance.

  6. Hannah C

    February 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

    My N130 is working fine, I can hear all the music and everything, But the screen is black. I dont know if it had anything to do with a peice falling out of the side of the labtop? Can I fix it on my own? Does anyone have a problem similar to this, and if so, what did you do? Its a fairly new laptop, I got in around 1 month ago. Any suggesions or advice would be much appreciated.

  7. eswaran

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

    how to get phoenix Failsafe key? because my netbook ask the key to log in.. please help me…

  8. Jon

    March 17, 2010 at 3:06 am

    I bought this model yesterday and so far so good! Quite pleased with it but it does eem to run a bit hot at times.Probably normal though.

  9. mattman70

    March 19, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Hi,i'm over here in the UK and have just purchased the Samsung N130 with the same spec as the one you've tested. It's an exellent little net book but i do have a habbit of upgrading things, so i've put a strip of 2gb of ram in replacing the 1 gb which is a very straight forward job and also have put a 320gb hdd in with a copy of windows7 home premium os on it.Upgrading the hdd was not a straight forward job at all as the entire body has to split open and as the bottom section wraps around the top part,this is awkward.There was a lot of careful ferking around with a little screwdriver to prize the clips of the plastic form out of the bottom section,in the end it all worked out and everything is running smoothly now.I do agree with what you say about the track pad blending in with the palm rest though, i've countless times being trying to scroll down a page only to realise that i was actualy not knowingly rubbing the palm rest with my finger and wandering why the page wasn't scrolling.

  10. mattman70

    March 19, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Hi,i'm over here in the UK and have just purchased the Samsung N130 with the same spec as the one you've tested. It's an exellent little net book but i do have a habbit of upgrading things, so i've put a strip of 2gb of ram in replacing the 1 gb which is a very straight forward job and also have put a 320gb hdd in with a copy of windows7 home premium os on it.Upgrading the hdd was not a straight forward job at all as the entire body has to split open and as the bottom section wraps around the top part,this is awkward.There was a lot of careful ferking around with a little screwdriver to prize the clips of the plastic form out of the bottom section,in the end it all worked out and everything is running smoothly now.I do agree with what you say about the track pad blending in with the palm rest though, i've countless times being trying to scroll down a page only to realise that i was actualy not knowingly rubbing the palm rest with my finger and wandering why the page wasn't scrolling.

  11. callmewhatever

    March 31, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Cons on this article are petty and relative to author, I dont care what bloody colour they like (or not). I wanted to read about its performance, multitasking ability with the intel atom, rate of data transfer with storage devices.. this reads like something written by a metrosexual poof.

  12. Chiquita Glass

    April 21, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I've had mine since Christmas 2009 and it works great. No trouble getting online. I like the operating system WIndows 7 starter. My Samsung N130 is Black, lightweight and totally usable. since i save all my picture and text files that I need to a removable storage device anyways, I dont have a problem with the amount of storage space I have on this computer. I love my Samsung N130 and will probably never go back to getting a laptop again.

  13. Gazza

    February 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    My N130 has developed a keyboard hiccup The keys on the right side only enter upper case key items where as the left side of the keyboard enters both upper and lower case items. Anyone with any ideas has to resolve this problem

  14. ben chadwick

    April 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

    i need a phoenix failsafe key for my samsung n130

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