Samsung N220 (Intel Atom N450 Pine Trail) 10.1-inch Netbook Review
One of the products that I haven't reviewed yet is the netbook. Today that is about to change. These little miniature computers have been surprisingly successful that even Intel were surprised at just how well they were selling in the western market.
Some of the reasons why I think people have been so receptive of netbooks is because they are inexpensive, small, very lightweight and offer excellent battery life. At the end of the day, netbooks are meant for a specific task; to browse the Internet, hence the name 'Net' book.
I mean why would you want to carry around a 17-inch notebook just to check emails and surf the Internet if that's all you need to do? You don't need all the extra fancy features do get the job done. I think these factors help make a convincing argument for people to use a netbook as a secondary solution to their notebook. Being small, inexpensive and offering long battery life allows to just pick up the netbook and head out the door and not worrying to remember to take the charger!
Today I am reviewing the Samsung N220 netbook which features a 10.1-inch screen, 250GB hard drive, is based on the Intel Atom N450 Pine Trail processor (1.66GHz) and includes a 5900mAh battery that Samsung claims can give you 11-hours of battery life! Is this netbook any good? Let's find out shall we?
About Samsung: The Samsung Philosophy (excerpt from Samsung.ca)
‘At Samsung, we follow a simple business philosophy: to devote our talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society.
Samsung N220 Product Overview
'An electrical outlet is the last thing you’ll be looking for when you’re out and about with the Samsung N220. With an unbelievable up to 11 hours* of battery life at your disposal, you can get more done in more places than you ever thought imaginable. And you’ll look good doing it. Its unique crystal finish, distinctive pattern and a casing engineered to reduce the risks of scratches and fingerprints make sure it’s easy on the eyes and easy to keep that way. Factor in its LED anti-reflective display and “Instant On” option, and the Samsung N220 is as user-friendly as it is powerful. *Battery life based on BatteryMark test scores that will vary based on configuration.'
Samsung N220 Product Features
Samsung N220 Product Specifications
A simple compact corrugated box is all that the Samsung N220 comes in. Opening up the box will reveal the following items inside the box...
I thought it was pretty sweet of Samsung to include a free pouch along with the N220 insert.
It’s a great program and you can view the Samsung R780 notebook for more information because its the same exact thing.
The Samsung N220 will captivate your senses. The N220 netbook in green looks absolutely fantastic and the lid is covered in glossy pattern finish which adds to the great styling. Only the top portion is glossy but the rest of the system is contained in a matte black finish. And depending on the way sunlight hits the N220, the color tone changes from dark to light. Again I have to say I am very impressed once again with the way Samsung designs their products.
Aside from the N220's glossy top finish, the rest of the netbook is made from hard plastic and contains a black matte finish. The matte black keyboard surface and keyboard keys contains a metallic looking finish which makes it look like its sparkling. The netbook's build quality is actually strong and hard to flex. The notebook just feels solid and inspires confidence that if it were to fall, it would probably survive.
The front of the N220 contains a multi-card slot reader in the middle, in which SD, SDHC and MMC card mediums can be utilized. To the right side we find the power on/off slider.
If we look to the left side of the N220 netbook, from left to right we find the DC power port, RJ45 Ethernet port, exhaust vent, 1 USB 2.0 port, headphone jack and microphone jack.
If we look to the right side of the N220 netbook, from left to right we find 2 USB 2.0 ports, VGA output port and the Kensington Lock Port.
Looking at the rear of the machine, we find that the battery is placed here and that while the battery does not stick out, it does elevate and angle the machine by an inch.
Opening up the lid we are presented to a fully functional layout. Notice that all around the edges Samsung decided to place chrome trim to add to the visual flair. The whole layout looks absolutely beautiful and upscale. It doesn't look or feel like a toy at all.
The 84-key keyboard is something I fell in love with as its very comfortable to type with and presents little to no problems. The only issue some may have is the small right shift key or the tiny space bar, but other than that, this clicky-type keyboard is not too loud, has great feel and is a joy to use.
The netbook being small as it is, it doesn't have the largest touchpad but it's good enough for most people. The surface is matte black and while it doesn't have four blue LED's that the R780 had to outline the useable touchpad area, there's a tiny indent that tells you when to stop. I've still went past the outline though so an LED would have been a great addition.
The multi-touch gestures, like on the R780, in which you can pinch, zoom, etc, it does work but not as easily as I have experienced on the R780. I don't know if it's the sensitivity or lack of touchpad space, it doesn't operate as fluid as it did on the R780.
Below the touchpad are the two rocker-type left and right buttons. They work great and don't require you to press the button to far down to execute.
The one thing I don't understand is the decision to have all the status LED's under the N220's lid. So when you close the lid of the netbook, you cannot see any LED's, and thus you don't know when the battery charge is finished or not.
There is not much to say about the speakers on the N220 netbook. Having only two 1.5W speakers is nothing to get excited about. The sound level is sufficient and manageable but to have a better audio experience, its recommended to listen with headphones. SRS 3D Sound Effect does help it sound fuller though, having it off makes the sound even more tiny.
The non-gloss 10.1-inch WSVGA LED back-light screen that is utilized on the Samsung N220 only has a native resolution of 1024x600, but with the Samsung Easy Resolution Software, you can increase it to 1024x768. But by doing so, the resolution doesn't look as fine and clear as the native resolution provides. Within native resolution the screen quality is fantastic. Text is super sharp, icons are super sharp, everything is sharp, well defined and the color rendition is actually very good. Contrast ratio isn't the highest but the brightness is well enough for most situations, except if you were outside in the sun, that requires more brightness.
Viewing Angle, Clouding and Ghosting
The Samsung N220 deals well with clouding. It wasn't really much of a problem with the N220 and that was a welcome sight considering LCD technology suffers from it.
The viewing angle with the netbook is good but not great. Being on-axis is perfect but if you are not facing your screen properly, you will see some drop-off in color. Just a few degrees horizontal or vertical is all it takes for the screen to start to change. Surprisingly from the side, you can still read text easily.
Watching many movies on the netbook reveals that with such a small screen size, ghosting is not an issue. Fast movie scenes look good and there are no distinct trails to be seen.
One of the best things about the Samsung N220 netbook is that its virtually silent. I have never had any problems in regards to noise, even under system load. The fans hardly ever come on and the system is never loud by any stretch. About the only thing that the N220 does is hum silently.
You have to realize that the purpose of the netbook computer is the surf the Internet. What is the bare minimum you need to surf the internet? Once you realize the purpose, you cannot have higher outrageous expectations. The Samsung N220 netbook computer is not a power machine and it was never meant to be one in the first place. I will be brutally honest about any Atom N450 based netbook computer; they are slow.
Honestly the first time I booted up the Samsung N220, I immediately felt I was back using my old ancient AMD Athlon 1900+ and to be honest, it was even slower than my old Athlon 1900+. It was sluggish to be frank and there were many delays when you executed anything.
It took 1 minute and 55 seconds to fully boot up Windows 7 Starter Edition. That's a pretty long startup time but part of that is attributed to the fact that there are programs that don't need to be started from the start.
After I removed the trial version of McAfee anti-virus and removed unnecessary startup items from Windows 7, my boot-up time decreased to 1 minute and 12 seconds.
My first ever start of Microsoft Word 2007 took 25 seconds to complete! But after that, it only took 5 seconds thereafter.
One of the nifty features on the Samsung N220 netbook is what Samsung calls 'Instant-On'. If you don't want to wait for Windows to start in order to check your emails and surf the web, you can press F6 when you turn on the N220 in order to cue the HyperSpace OS software. It's basically a lightweight Linux distribution that has been made for the N220 and allows you to surf the web, check emails, go on YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Meebo, etc, all being user friendly and easy to use. HyperSpace Instant-On will take 32 seconds to boot up, not exactly "instant" as they say but less than half the time to boot up into Windows 7.
Don't think you can run any games on this. I couldn't even run the Street Fighter IV benchmark or even the GPU portion of CineBench.
But the Atom N450 is powerful enough to enable you to watch YouTube videos and up to medium bitrate quality movie files through VLC portable. I can watch 720x480 movie files on VLC portable without much problems but if I move the mouse and bring up the VLC playback bar during video playback, that makes the audio crackle and skip until the playback bar disappears.
I found another use for the Samsung N220 netbook; to use it as a media storage device. If I'm shooting videos on my pocket camera and DSLR and run out of space on my SD card, I simply turn on the Samsung N220 and pop over the files onto the netbook. Having 250GB of hard drive space doesn't hurt to. Having a netbook in this situation is actually very useful. Transferring files from my SD card to netbook doesn't require the netbook to be on often so battery life is greatly extended. But don't go trying to run Photoshop.
Samsung claims you can get up to 11 hours of runtime on the 5900mAh standard battery pack but while I didn't see 11 hours under real-world situations, I did manage to squeeze out 6 hours of runtime with the high performance power setting enabled, highest brightness possible, WiFi enabled and with a video being looped in the foreground. I think that is quite amazing to be honest.
With WiFi off, minimum brightness, power saver settings and under idle conditions, I saw over 9 hours of battery life. Most of my real-world surfing around the internet with medium brightness tests saw a little over 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Battery life with the Samsung N220 is undoubtedly long but I did not manage to see 11 hours in a real-world Windows environment.
The biggest drawback to any netbook on the market today is the current Atom processor. Windows Experience Index shows that the Atom N450 is the weakest link in the overall package. The hard drive is the fastest component in the N220 netbook system but it doesn't mean anything if the processor can't keep up.
However, netbooks being made with the purpose of surfing the Internet, you can't really ask for more and the Samsung N220 is a very good netbook overall. It gets the job done and it does everything very well.
I can see why netbooks caught on, they are indeed very useful and can be used for travel, checking email, being used as a storage media device and that is because it's so small and doesn't attract much attention. The Samsung N220 is a netbook that you should really consider. Recommended