Advantages Compact, light, fast, good value
Disadvantages Maybe a slightly small screen, nothing major
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Among the many Netbooks and tablets which have flooded the portable computing market over the last couple of years, the Samsung N130 is a modest but effective entry.The N130 is a light netbook which generally packs 1GB or RAM and a 160GB hard disk drive. Aside from a slot for SD memory cards, there are no external media drives, to further reduce the size and weight of the device, but three USB ports, as well as for a monitor cable or network connection.
With a 10" backlit screen, the N130 has an adequate display for word processing, internet browsing and email, but complex spreadsheets can become difficult to read at this size without much scrolling and confusion. Similarly the 17.7mm key pitch makes the keyboard just large enough for writing articles or emails, but a dedicated copy typist would probably find it a bit awkward sooner or later.Samsung's N130 netbook essentially has the basic specs of a five year old laptop, offset by its low weight and long battery life (Samsung's claimed 8 hour battery life is wildly optimistic, but 6 hours is achieveable relatively easily). There is more to the story, however. First, the netbook tends to be very competitively priced (you should not expect to pay more than £200 for this model), but also it is often very sensibly shipped with Windows XP installed as the operating system.
A whole generation of otherwise totally adequate laptops were too low-spec to run Windows Vista, but such is Microsoft's power in the PC market that they were installed with Vista anyway. It is becoming harder to find the N130 with an XP installation, but it is well worth the effort - the machine boots up and runs like lightning, and compares very favourably with much higher spec machines running Vista or Windows 7, in terms of basic performance and responsiveness.The netbook is also packed full of nifty features. It has a built-in webcam (or 'Digital Livecam' as it insists on calling the device) built into the lid which can capture still images as well as video. It has various facilities for back up and data recovery. It comes complete with the usual array of Windows software, including pre-installed versions of Microsoft Office, McAfee and various casual games. Experienced computer users will probably remove most of the pre-installed software in favour of freeware or open source equivalents, but the commercial packages which come with the device are high quality and will save novices a lot of time and effort.
Stylishly finished in a rounded white plastic casing (other colours are available), with a responsive trackpad, good range of software, impressive speed and good connectivity. Its built-in wireless adapter is good at picking up even a faint Wi-fi signal, and its good value price makes it an ideal back-up computer for when you are on the move and want to keep up with your work.It should go without saying that netbooks are not really gaming machines, but the N130 can play video smoothly and is totally adequate to playing most PC casual games. These features do drain the battery very quickly, however, so try and make sure you are connected to a power source if you want to start playing games or browsing YouTube...
I've now been using this machine for almost a year and it still runs as fast as the day I bought it. I've used it to write hundreds of articles, update my CV, browse the Internet, watch my TV debut streamed over Vimeo and to give an impromptu Powerpoint presentation in Starbucks for the day job. It's so compact and easy to use that even my dear old Mum wants to get one!
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