First look: Samsung N110 netbook

There's a new netbook in town, and it looks like it's showing all the other netbooks who's boss. Having just read a review from Joanna Stern of LAPTOP magazine, I officially have a crush on a new netbook: the Samsung N110.

There's a new netbook in town, and it looks like it's showing all the other netbooks who's boss. Having just read a review from Joanna Stern of LAPTOP magazine, I officially have a crush on a new netbook: the Samsung N110. As I type away on my three-year-old MacBook, I realize the new Samsung N110 doesn't look that different, and at $469, costs a fraction of what I paid for my MacBook. Granted, the netbook has less options in terms of functionality, but it does offer some pretty enticing alternatives.

Sneaking out from under the radar, the N110 popped up yesterday having only been reviewed by LAPTOP. The N110 is here to bridge the gap between Samsung's first netbook, the NC10, and the NC20, which is due to be released sometime soon.

The N110 is a slight upgrade from the NC10, but is pretty similar in a lot of ways. For example, the N110's insides are identical to the netbook's predecessor. It has a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP Home, and a 160GB hard drive. The N110 is also the same weight and size of the NC10. Samsung must be pretty confident in its design of the NC10 because it also kept the same size of keyboard for the new model. The keyboard is 93 percent of a full-size layout, and has raised keys, which always makes typing easier.

I know, you're probably wondering what the big deal is with this new version. It might sound like the same netbook, but there are also many differences between the two. The touchpad on the NC10 was narrow and hard to use, but the N110 has an extended touchpad with improved ergonomics, and it has a dedicated scrollbar to make it easier to view long Web pages.

Another addition is a change in appearance. The previously matte lid and display of the NC10 has been visited by the Gloss Fairy and now has a shiny finish. Though this seems like a good idea in theory, the lid is easily smudged by fingerprints, which may not be worth the annoyance of constantly cleaning. The screen measures 10.2-inches diagonally, and the 1024 x 600-pixel screen crisply displays a downloaded high-definition 720p video clip. The clip runs smoothly with the N110’s 1.6-GHz Intel Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM. The netbook, like many others with the same chipset, can't play back a 1080p clip, so don't expect to get full quality HD playback.

I'm definitely a multitasker, which seems like it would be easy to do on the N110. The built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam makes video chatting on Skype clear, and the netbook's performance is good enough to talk on Skype while surfing the Web with multiple tabs open without any problem.

One of the biggest improvements from the original is the extended battery life. The N110 has a six-cell battery capacity, giving the netbook a runtime of over seven hours. You can get similarly configured netbooks with a lower price tag, such as the Acer Aspire One AOD150 for $120 less and the Asus Eee PC 1000HE for $70 less, but the N110 has a better keyboard and better battery life than its competitors. At $469, the Samsung N110 is worth it for those who value a better battery life.

For those looking for a cheap laptop that's easy to transport, a netbook is the way to go. The N110 only weighs 2.8-pounds, which is pretty comparable to the Acer Aspire One AOD150 and the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. The Samsung N110 looks like a smart choice for a top notch netbook, but if you can hold tight, the NC20 might be worth the wait.

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