back to article Samsung N110

Samsung is knocking out new netbooks like there is no tomorrow. Yet, with the N120 and N310, we have seen the company try to define new netbook genres where there really aren't any. The former is marketed as a multimedia optimised machine, while the latter targets anyone swayed by styling and fancies a laptop that resembles a …

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Fixing sound...

Fixing sound, esp. on Dell's, esp. on recent Ubuntu's, is normally as simple as removing as many packages with the word 'pulseaudio' in their title as possible. The new audio framework simply isn't prime time ready yet, and the older one is perfectly sufficient.

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Two great reasons not to buy this

...a glossy screen, and a who-knows-whether-it's-toxic-or-not nano silver keyboard.

Come on, a glossy screen on a netbook - it's bad enough on a relatively static notebook, but on something that's going to be used all over the place? I'd really, really, really like to hear the discussions inside computer companies when they make the decision about glossy versus matte. I'd like to know exactly why they think a screen that gives you eyestrain when there's a couple of photons of light behind the user is acceptable. We need some journalists to do a proper investigation into one of the most puzzling aspects of computer design ever! It's damned annoying when the choice of hardware is constantly whittled down, with even Asus starting to make their screens glossy (but confusingly not changing their model numbers so you have to look at the processor number to tell whether the screen is going to be glossy or not).

The hilarious bit is when you see publicity shots and there's a massive reflection lovingly reproduced across the screen, to make the punter salivate at the unutterably desirable shininess of it all. And then there are the product listings on stores such as Dabs that even say "glare-type display". Glare type. They are actually proudly announcing that these screens have glare, as if it's an acceptable feature. What next? Fail-type hard drives? Crackle-type sound cards? Clatter-type keyboards? Whine-type fans??

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What would move the form factor forward

Netbooks need higher screen resolution. 1024x600 is serviceable but higher rez screens as standard for the platform would be very nice. I've read that Intel and/or M$ pressure the netbook makers to not exceed 1024x600 - is this true?

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Know what you want to use it for; then make your decision!

I bought one of these when they were first released from dixons online (of all places, it was the only place I could find it). I think it's worth the extra coin. I use it for taking to customer sites, and being productive w/o having to lug the backbreaker around.

The trackpad (for me) is much better than the NC10 (which may no longer be the case, given the re-issues of the NC10).

The battery life can't be faulted; full day of work*; it went from about 80% charge to 30%.

Performance is good enough (comparatively) for a spot of fly-by-night seat-of-your-pants hotfixes; java compilation was only 2-3x the time on the laptop.

Personally, I've never liked glossy screens, but they do seem to be all the rage, I haven't been bothered by the gloss or not; my matte laptop isn't necessarily better in bright light, it's just different.

*work in this instance was note taking during meetings; demo's using the external VGA, putty ssh/sftp, cygwin (ant +javac).

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@Julian Smart

"Whine-type fans??" Now, now, play nicely and leave the Apple fanbois alone...

I agree completely regarding glossy screens on notebooks; they're worse than useless for any serious kind of work.

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Since when did £350 become acceptable for a netbook

I still believe a netbook is the most computing power you can get for £200 in a 10" or smaller form factor. So, £350 for a fairly bog standard spec netbook is outrageous.

I bought an ex-display Lenono S9e from Tescos for pennies over £170. (Minor scratches due to display mounting, but other then that perfect – was £189 full price)

Same 1024x600 screen, but 9 inches

Same memory

Same size hard drive

2 x USB, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g

Also has an Expresscard slot for expansion.

I will give this that it has a 6 cell battery - mine is 3 cell, but definitely not worth over £160 more.

Sub £200 is a fair price for this type of spec. Anything more then that and it’s not worth it.

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Re: Fixing sound...

"Fixing sound, esp. on Dell's, esp. on recent Ubuntu's, is normally as simple as removing as many packages with the word 'pulseaudio' in their title as possible."

What the man said - pulseaudio blows goats. End of.

Removing *all* of the pulseaudio modules on my Mini-10v fixed pretty much all of the audio hassles I had when I installed Ubuntu 9.04. Plain ol' ALSA is plenty good enough for me.

As for the Samsung - looks nice, but in no way is it worth the asking price (IMO). If I'm going to lay out that much cash on a laptop then I'll get a 'proper' one with a decent spec (granted, my Mini-10v ended up costing £250 but that included an upgrade to a bigger SSD and £20 for a 2Gb stick of RAM from Crucial)

I've long believed that the whole 'Small Cheap Computer' thing is now dead in the water - this machine does nothing to disprove my belief and, at this particular price point, is chock full o' fail. Rather like pulseaudio, come to think of it.

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@ Albert

Spot on mate, glad to hear it's not just me that thinks a netbook is a sub-£200 machine by definition. I got my Aspire One for £200 ages ago, and it does everything this machine does. The only real down-side is the significantly shorter battery life, but it's good enough for my needs.

Manufacturers: bring me integrated 3G & GPS, and a higher res screen with multi-touch; then you might persuade me to replace my current model. Try to charge me nearly double for something identical to what I already own, and you're barking up the wrong tree I'm afraid.

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FAIL

Sigh

Bog standard features? Check!

Crappy intel chipset? Check!

Less than adequate screen resolution? Check!

Microsoft Tax? Check!

3G modem non existent? Check!

Stupidly overblown price? Check!

Yep, it's a 2009 netbook alright.

Microsoft and intel can go and get stuffed.

I can't wait for the ARMbooks to arrive.

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Don't throw stones until you've used it

Unlike some of the other posters here who complain about the glossy screen and the cost of this unit, I would like to offer a perspective from someone who actually owns and uses one.

I purchased mine from Provantage for US$378 (£233 with current exchange rates) and couldn't be happier with it. I do not have problems with glare, and have used it indoors and outside, in bright light and dim. The battery life is great, and after a full day I still have plenty of charge left.

I have other laptops that I use for heavy computing. My primary use for this unit is for VPN'ing into my office and using RDP for remote maintenance my servers, with email and research being a secondary use. Small and cheap enough that I can leave it in the map pouch in the seat of my truck without worrying about it, and powerful enough to get the job done.

The keyboard on this unit was a huge selling point for me. You don't realize how hard it is to find a netbook with a real keyboard, that puts keys like the / and the ? in the right place, until you actually start looking. The 6 to 8+ hours of battery life that I get out of it is great, and that is with brightness turned up and running a vpn over the wifi. I spent $20 on a car adapter for it, but I've never had the need to use it, even when sitting in the truck tethered to my phone via bluetooth to get out to the internet.

I'm not a big fan of ANY glidepads, so I also toss a small bluetooth mouse in the bag that I dig out if I'm using it for more than a few minutes. I also upgraded the ram (US$32 for 2 gig, there is only one sodimm slot) because (1) is IS running windows and (2) for $32, why not?

Quite honestly, now that I have it I would even admit that I would have even paid more for it.

At first I was planning on upgrading the HD to an SSD, but now that I have it, I've found the HD to be robust enough. If it fails... well, then I'll get the SSD.

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Boffin

Re: What would move the form factor forward

"Netbooks need higher screen resolution. 1024x600 is serviceable but higher rez screens as standard for the platform would be very nice. I've read that Intel and/or M$ pressure the netbook makers to not exceed 1024x600 - is this true?"

More than likely.

Component cost is a factor too - you can get 10" displays with higher resolutions but they're still quite expensive compared to the more bog-standard 1024x600/768/whatever displays. For me, 1024x768 on a 10" screen is ideal, 1024x600 is a minor pain although since my netbook isn't my 'main' machine I can live with it for occasional use.

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Re Albert and Jerome0

I'm agree with you - there's no way that a netbook should be £350 as that's putting it firmly into cheap laptop territory.

Besides, if you got an netbook for about £190, then it's only about £70 to add a high capacity battery. So that's £90 less for something comparable, but with a 1" smaller screen (big deal!). Heck even if I go for a fancy 10" version the difference is still about £50 - so that Samsung is over-priced imho!

Re: Jerome0 - I too bought an AAO, (but mine cost more than £200 - darn it!), and if the battery life is the main drawback then I'd seriously recommend the 6cell battery. Okay it's another £70 and it does stick out so much that using the supplied sleeve case is impossible, on the other hand it raises the machine up nicely for typing; isn't that much extra weight; and I get about four hours from a full battery in normal Ubuntu use (and the supplied 3cell makes a nice spare).

Hopefully the manufacturers will over estimate the number of netbooks being bought for Christmas and hence there'll be some reasonably priced units in the New Year sales.

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Anonymous Coward

I recommend another netbook keyboard

I recently got a MSI Wind U100+ , the keyboard touch is better than most laptops I've had a go on!! it is very firm, feels like I'm typing on a Thinkpad (only difference is the much smaller keys of course). If you are looking for a netbook with a nice keyboard, take a look at this one too.

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