Swelling the ranks of Samsung's award-winning netbook line-up is the Samsung N140.

If you're looking for a well-made 10in netbook, you can't go far wrong with a Samsung. That's what we've found so far anyway - but will the new N140 buck the established trend?

The Korean brand first picked up the netbook baton when it took a long hard look at an early pioneer from MSI, namely the MSI Wind U110, then refined the build to make its own Samsung NC10 netbook.

Shortly after, the Samsung N110 model appeared, almost identical but with a gloss screen and less chrome trim - plus a smidgen more battery life from the already-impressive circa-8-hour performance of the NC10.

More recently Samsung has grabbed some attention by announcing its latest N-series netbooks, specifically the N510 which takes the nVidia 9400M graphics processor and melds it to the Intel Atom. The result will form one of the first Ion netbooks. Regrettably there's no such excitement here though, as this is netbook-by-numbers time.

In fact, the N140 is effectively a carbon-cloned copy of the NC10. Like Samsung's first netbook, it features a laudable matt-finish anti-glare screen. Less welcome is the return of the dodgy chrome-effect trim around the chassis circumference.

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Look more carefully again and you'll see that the Samsung N140 takes 800MHz DDR2 RAM, where the NC10 uses 533MHz-rated memory. We don't think this will make a jot of difference, mind, since the Atom's front-side bus is limited to 533MHz already. What can be useful though is the revision on the Wi-Fi wireless card, which is now 802.11n compatible.

Another minor revision, albeit a backwards one, is the placement of the mouse click buttons. Where these were once slightly proud and readily clickable, the N140 has its buttons recessed. It now requires a more awkward raised action from your thumb or finger - a small point perhaps but absolutely pivotal in the crucial human-computer interface department

Thankfully the keyboard is as good as you'll find on the earlier Samsung netbooks. Firm and positive, it's another one of the key attributes that can make or break working on any laptop or netbook.

Samsung claims up to 11 hours battery life for the N140. While we couldn't match that in our MobileMark 2007 Productivity test, we still beat 9 hours, specifically stretching life to 576 minutes. And overall system speed was at the higher end of what's available from the dawdling Intel Atom processor, with a WorldBench 6 score of 37.

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Sasmung N140: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • 533MHz FSB
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3
  • 10.1in (1024x600) 16:9 matt LCD display
  • 160GB 2.5in SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2-800 SDRAM
  • Intel GMA 950 graphics
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • ethernet 100Mb/s
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • SD card slot
  • mic in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • built-in mic
  • 6-cell Li-ion battery
  • 262x186x29mm
  • 1238g
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • 533MHz FSB
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3
  • 10.1in (1024x600) 16:9 matt LCD display
  • 160GB 2.5in SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2-800 SDRAM
  • Intel GMA 950 graphics
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • ethernet 100Mb/s
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • SD card slot
  • mic in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam
  • built-in mic
  • 6-cell Li-ion battery
  • 262x186x29mm
  • 1238g

OUR VERDICT

A first glance around the bodywork and through the specs tells us there’s nothing new to see here. But closer examination shows a fractional upgrade in wireless connectivity, along with a step back in usability with the new recessed trackpad buttons. The Samsung N140 is a very good netbook that continues Samsung’s run of higher quality netbooks, but unless 802.11n wireless is essential to you, we’d advise you to also look out for a cheaper and more comfortable NC10 or N110 model.

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