Samsung N150 Plus Netbook

It's been a while since I bought any new hardware. Yesterday I saw a Samsung N150 Plus for a price that I just couldn't pass up - 333 Swiss Francs (about £200).
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

It's been a while since I bought any new hardware. Yesterday I saw a Samsung N150 Plus for a price that I just couldn't pass up - 333 Swiss Francs (about £200). It looked nice, felt good, I've been looking for an Intel Atom-based netbook since my dual-Atom desktop has been out on loan for quite a while, and I just wanted to try something different anyway. So, here is a quick overview (and a major rant) of the factory-delivered software and configuration, before I start loading Linux on it.

First, it comes preloaded with Windows 7 Brain-Dead Edition (aka Starter Edition). This is my first direct exposure to Win7 BDE, and with any luck it will be my last.

Second, the netbook itself really seems very nice. The screen is bright and easy to read, and according to a pre-installed Samsung utility, it can do 1024x768 in addition to the standard 1024x600, although I haven't tried that yet. It will be interesting to see what Linux makes of the screen resolution. The keyboard has a nice feel, and is not too small or cheap-feeling. It is a very well-equipped netbook, with 3 USB ports wired and wireless networking, SD memory card slot, webcam, and Bluetooth. The CPU is an Atom 450 (watch out for companies that are still selling Atom 270 netbooks), it has 1 GB of memory, and a 250 GB disk drive. Oh, and the AC adapter (power brick) is quite small and light compared to what comes with a lot of other netbooks.

Third, the first time I turned it on it looked like it was more or less staggering to its feet under the weight of Windows 7 and the amount of extraneous garbage software that was pre-installed on it. The poor thing thrashed around for well over half an hour just doing the initial load and configuration, before it even made the first real "boot". It then spent another 15 minutes working on "speeding up boot time" (TIP for Samsung: The best way to speed up the boot time would be to get rid of all the GARBAGE!). Then I finally got to start trying it out, and poking around, which leads to...

Fourth, What a LOAD OF RUBBISH is on this poor netbook! The first and most obvious thing was the Norton Internet Security, which wanted me to activate whatever "Free Trial Period" was available. Abort that, and then uninstall it. Unfortunately that doesn't get rid of Norton Online Backup, so that has to be uninstalled separately. Then the Google Toolbar, and at least half a dozen Windows Live packages and "helpers", and Skype, including the Skype Toolbar. Then came the biggest gripe of all...

Fifth, there should be a special place in HELL reserved for whoever decided to put Phoenix FailSafe on this thing. It's bad enough to put a ton of crap on it, most of which is "limited trial" versions (FailSafe is a 30-day trial), but in this case it appears to be impossible to uninstall it. I've looked in the Control Panel / Uninstall a Program, I've looked in the Start menu, I've even looked directly in the FailSafe folder under Program Files. No uninstall. I've searched the web, and found that the only way to remove it seems to be to go to the FailSafe web site and REGISTER, and then ask to download the uninstaller. REGISTER, just to be able to uninstall it? I hope you all burn in HELL...

Last, but not least, it also came with Microsoft Office 2010 Starter preinstalled. Although this is also complete rubbish, I find it rather fitting that a brain-dead version of Windows 7 comes with a brain-dead version of Office. Nothing but Word and Excel, apparently limited in the amount of screen space it can use, and with adverts running on the screen all the time. The only good thing about it is that there is an uninstall program...

So, there you have it. A nice little netbook, which is severely handicapped by the operating system preloaded on it, and a load of crapware preloaded on that operating system. It will be interesting to see over the next few days how it performs with Linux.

jw 29/8/2010

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