Advantages Slim, powerful, excellent HD LED screen, good connectivity
Disadvantages Keyboard and mousepad can take a little getting used to, battery life could be better
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I bought myself a Samsung NC10 netbook at the tail end of 2009 and have to say I really liked it. I reviewed it and thought I would have it for some years to come. Unfortunately my daughter also really liked it - and started to use it more and more instead of her laptop as she found the long battery life appealing. It got to the stage I couldn’t get near my netbook - and over time it started to look rather messy - she tends to overdo the nail polish so the white keyboard took on a rainbow look. I decided to let her keep it for her birthday while I decided to seek out something new for myself - with strict instructions to my daughter that she was not allowed to use it.I came across the Samsung X120 in the Next Directory winter sale. It wasn’t dirt cheap - coming in at £360 but it represented a step up from the NC10 in several ways. I had been considering buying the Galaxy Tab from Samsung but at the end of the day I am a touch typist and I find typing data on a flat touch screen to be a bit too fiddly for me so I decided on another netbook.
The netbook has an 11.6 inch LED screen. This is my first experience of an HD LED screen and it’s the main reason for this netbook only being 25.4 mm deep…which is only slightly larger than a pound coin. It weighs just 1.36 kilos - so while it’s got a bigger screen than the NC10, it weighs the same.
The X120 runs on Windows 7, which represented a big change from the Windows XP on my old NC10. Furthermore gone was the Atom processor - the X120 has an incredibly fast Celeron SU2300 dual core CULV processor. The laptop style specifications continue with 2GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive.Also included is an integral webcam and microphone, Bluetooth and a good choice of connectivity with one HDMI slot, 3 USB slots, an Ethernet slot and connections for a keyboard, microphone and headphones. Furthermore there is a 3 in 1 card reader slot which can handle SD, SDHC and MMC cards.
Like so many computers these days, almost everything is pre-installed so setting up this netbook was a piece of cake. Windows 7 is also incredibly user friendly so I had this up and running in no time.The box contains the netbook, a soft fabric case for it, the charger, some CD recovery disks and an instruction manual.
The power switch is located on the bottom right hand side of the netbook and you have to flick it along to the right for power to come on. The netbook came with a trial version of McAfee and Office 2010 but I replaced these with AVG and Works.Because the netbook doesn’t have an optic drive you will have to download software or copy it over using either a USB flash drive or an SD card.
I must admit I love how this netbook looks - certainly in comparison to my far dumpier NC10, the X120 looks like its catwalk model sister. However where style wins hands down for the X120, when it comes to substance there are a couple of things I prefer on the NC10.The X120 is designed with clever curves to ensure that when it’s closed the lid is fitted flush with the bottom of the netbook. This looks brilliant but it makes it a bit odd when you come to use the keyboard due to the curves and raised edge at the side of the netbook. Similarly, the mouse pad takes a bit of getting used to if you have been using a different netbook and doesn’t seem as intuitive as other mouse pads I have used - certainly it doesn't match up to that on the NC10. Also the curves on the side of the netbook can make it quite uncomfortable to use the mousepad after extensive use - I have been tempted to plug a mouse in at times and have done with it.
These are pretty minor niggles but I do find the on/off switch fiddly too - it’s rather small and requires a certain deft touch to switch the machine on - and you also need to use it if the netbook goes into sleep mode to turn it back on again. Just like the NC10, the SD card slot has a dummy to protect the slot from dust which you remove by pulling on a groove at the bottom of the slot. It’s another thing that requires a certain level of dexterity to move so sadly I can’t say this netbook has been designed for people who have problems with their hands. I wish Samsung would take a leaf out of Dell’s book and have a dust cover that can be removed by pressing inwards on a spring or even better devise a lid to cover the slot. A lid couldn’t get lost either.At the end of the day however what really matters with any computing device is how well it performs in use. And in that regard, I really have been very impressed with the X120’s performance.
The Celeron processor which runs at 1.20 Ghz is incredibly fast. Booting up this machine is quick and easy but even better it can easily handle multi tasking - so I can browse the internet whilst downloading something on iTunes and editing photos without any lag.The screen is amazing too - never mind how thin it is, it displays HD video beautifully and photographs appear sharp on the screen and boasts a perfect 16:9 aspect ratio.
To be honest the only real bugbear I have with this netbook is the battery life. The X120 is available with a 4 cell battery but mine came with the 6 cell battery which claims to last as long as 11 hours but in my experience 6 hours or so has been the maximum I have achieved with it. I appreciate in comparison to most laptops that’s a pretty good battery life but it’s a long way off what Samsung claims the battery is capable of.The netbook works brilliantly on wifi - it picks up networks quickly and connects effortlessly. I have also used the X120 with my Samsung Galaxy S tethered to it for internet and it connects without the need for any additional software. The internet is noticeably slower this way however - although to be fair that can’t be blamed on the X120.
What is most impressive about the X120 is the way it contains all the power of a multimedia laptop in such a small package. If you have worries about the lack of an optical drive my advice is to put them to one side - you can buy an external drive for very little if you really need one - but with the advent of downloads and with the capacity memory cards can handle increasing on what sometimes feels like a daily basis, you can easily transfer large files on to your netbook. Alternatively you can download software directly on to the X120.If you download HD movie content you can watch it on the netbook or you can easily connect it to your HD TV if you want to see it on a big screen using an HMDI cable. I download “Glee” from iTunes every week and have been impressed at the flexibility having the HDMI lead offers me on this netbook and how incredibly good the HD picture quality is both on the netbook and on the TV. The speakers are, however, a little paltry - offering two speakers with a 1.5 watt output giving a total of 3 watts - so if you want to enjoy music or films on the go I would recommend you use headphones as the speaker output is tinny and weak.
It's worth noting that sound isn't an issue if you connect the laptop to your TV to watch video content so long as you choose the HDMI option for sound.
If you are looking for a small but powerful netbook then the Samsung X120 might be worth checking out. The lack of an optical drive needn’t be a major issue and certainly if, like me, you predominantly use a desktop computer and just need a spare machine for travel or to be able to use anywhere in the house - or garden, then it needn’t be an issue at all.I am on my third netbook now - all of which have been Samsungs - and the X120 is easily the most impressive one I have owned due to the fact it can hold so much on its hard drive and the speed with which it operates.
It’s easy to use, easy to clean - thanks to a welcome lack of the dust magnet piano black so many manufacturers seem to favour - and easy to transport about with you. The HD capabilities are fantastic which makes this an ideal machine on which to watch downloaded video content on the go or to view and store photographs.I am glad that I decided against buying a tablet computer as I don’t believe any could currently compete with the power of the X120. Furthermore, it’s not even that expensive to buy now considering the power and size - you can get this for around £250. I intend to hang on to my X120 for quite some time and as such my daughter is banned from using it - she may have wangled the NC10 from me but mama is keeping her X120.
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