The Samsung NB30 is a template 10.1in screen Atom netbook with a non-slip case finish

If you’re looking for a cheap netbook, there’s little to distinguish between various models these days.

It seems that the supply of both the main processor and the operating system du jour – namely Intel Atom and Windows 7 Starter – come with certain restrictions from Intel and Microsoft, preventing much innovation from the netbook manufacturers.

So reviews such as this of the Samsung NB30 netbook will tick off the predictable features found on just about every other Windows netbook in the world: 10.1in screen, three USB, 160GB hard drive (sometimes 250GB now), 1GB of RAM, webcam, mic, memory card slot...

Or put another way, the Samsung NB30 is almost identical to Samsung's recent refresh of its netbook line, incarnate as the Samsung N120.

Where the Samsung NB30 differs fractionally from the netbook norm is in a modicum of ruggedisation. The black plastic case - which does feel  plasticky in the uncomplimentary sense of the word - carries a pattern of embossed curved ridges. This helps with the netbook’s non-slippiness in the hand.

Another concession to toughness in the Samsung NB30 is an internal accelerometer (vibration sensor) which can help to lock the hard drive in the event of the netbook suddenly falling out of your hands to the floor.

There’s nothing innovative here of course – we’ve seen freefall sensors in laptops for years, while some notebook hard drives even have this feature integrated now. So while a clumsy drop may still write-off the NB30, there could be more chance of extricating its hard drive intact and recovering its data.

Samssung NB30

The Samsung NB30 is only a very slight variation on the last Samsung N120

Out of the box, the Samsung NB30 was slow to use, perhaps more so than similar netbooks saddled with Windows 7 Starter. Samsung has excelled itself in the sheer volume of junk pre-installed on this particular Samsung NB30 netbook.

Along with brands such as Acer, Sony and Dell, Samsung is one of the worst offenders for selling laptops with so much rubbish pre-installed that your computer will be perceptibly slowed down from new.

Once we removed all this unnecessary bloat, the Samsung NB30 did feel a little more responsive.

In other respects, the hardware is unexceptional, although we’d call out the trackpad buttons as being frustratingly flush-mounted to the wrist rest area and thereby difficult to press comfortably. More agreeably, the display is an anti-glare matt finish type, so easier to view than reflective types.

In our MobileMark battery life tests, the Samsung NB30 lasted nearly 11 hours (647 mins) in the Productivity test, making it one of the most perennial laptops we’ve measured. Regrettably we couldn’t make it complete a WorldBench 6 real-world speed test, but given the standard template of netbook fittings we’d estimate a score of around 35 points.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

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Group test: what's the best netbook?

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Samsung NB30: Specs

  • 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
  • 667MHz FSB
  • 512kB L2 cache
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
  • 10.1in (1024 x 600) matt LED-backlit LCD display
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • Intel NM10 chipset
  • Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • SD card reader
  • ethernet 100Mb/s
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • audio-in, headphone jacks
  • webcam
  • built-in mic
  • stereo speakers
  • 66Wh Li-ion battery
  • 264 x 189 x 27-39mm
  • 1272g
  • 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
  • 667MHz FSB
  • 512kB L2 cache
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
  • 10.1in (1024 x 600) matt LED-backlit LCD display
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • Intel NM10 chipset
  • Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • SD card reader
  • ethernet 100Mb/s
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • audio-in, headphone jacks
  • webcam
  • built-in mic
  • stereo speakers
  • 66Wh Li-ion battery
  • 264 x 189 x 27-39mm
  • 1272g

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung NB30 is essentially a Samsung N210 with a subtly different case finish and an accelerometer. Battery life was a little longer on this sample though, easily breaking the magical 10 hours barrier.

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