Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Samsung N220 netbook
Samsung N220's netbook has built-in 3G connectivity.
- Good design and build quality, build-in 3G wireless broadband, comfortable keyboard, adequate performance
- Windows Desktop can be a little cramped, small touchpad, gets warm during prolonged use
We like the Samsung N220's built-in 3G wireless broadband capabilities, but its impressive design will also win its fair share of fans, as will its excellent battery life.
The Samsung N220 is a 10.1in netbook with built in 3G mobile broadband access; it's the successor to the Samsung NC10. Sold directly through Optus and bundled with a wireless broadband connection, the N220 is well built, offering a comfortable keyboard and adequate performance for a netbook.
Samsung N220: Design
The Samsung N220 features an unusual glossy sea green colour lid; we think it achieves a nice balance between work and play. The glossy finish will attract plenty of fingerprints, however.
Flipped open, the Samsung N220's design is impressive. Unlike many other netbooks, it doesn't look or feel tacky and it is built from sturdy feeling plastic. The screen exhibits minimal flex when pressed, and the hinges feel strong. A chrome strip runs around both the display and the base, and the netbook has sleek, curved edges. The screen has a matte finish, which minimises reflections, though the glossy strip around the display can be distracting when you're using the netbook under fluorescent lighting. The screen has average viewing angles, but it is bright and clear enough for most tasks; the standard 1024x600 resolution means the Desktop can be a little cramped.
The Samsung N220's keyboard is small, but there is space between keys and the layout is impressive. The keys have good travel, and, although the keyboard is slightly cramped, after a few hours of use we feel most people will become accustomed to the design. The N220's touchpad is quite small, though reasonable when you take into account the minimal space available for it. It's size does make it a little frustrating to use.
Weighing 1.32kg, the Samsung N220 is easy to carry around and thin enough to travel with you all day without being a burden. It’s a little top-heavy though (so it doesn't balance well on your lap with the screen open at an angle greater than 90 degrees). It also gets reasonably warm — though not hot — during constant use.
The Samsung N220's standard 6-cell battery is big enough to give the netbook a slight forward slant when resting flat on a table. It lasted an impressive 5hr 48min in our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. The Samsung NC10 recorded just over four hours in our tests back in September 2009, so the N220's result exceeded our expectations and makes this netbook and ideal road warrior.
Samsung N220: Performance
The Samsung N220 is powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and integrated Intel graphics. In our performance tests, the N220 recorded a time of 7min 2sec in the Blender 3D rendering test, which is a slower time than the Samsung N150 netbook. Its time of 7min 3sec in the iTunes MP3 encoding test is noteworthy though — it's up to a minute faster than similar netbooks on the market.
The Samsung N220 hasn't been designed to play games, and its low score of 153 in 3DMark06 reflects this. The native 1024x600 resolution of the screen isn’t high enough to display most games anyway — it can cope with basic, standard-definition movies, but is not suited to any HD content. A VGA webcam is located above the display, while audio from the built-in speakers is about average (there is little bass and distortion is evident at high volumes, but using a set of headphones produces reasonable audio).
Samsung N220: Connectivity
The Samsung N220 comes with three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, microphone and headphone jacks, 10/100 Ethernet, a Kensington lock slot, and an SD card slot. The USB port on the left side is a 'ChargeableUSB' port. This lets you recharge devices like mobile phones and MP3 players even while the N220 is turned off. The N220 also includes Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, which can be turned on and off via a switch on the right side.
The N220's best feature is the built-in 3G wireless broadband, with a SIM card slot located under the battery. Samsung has partnered with Optus for the N220 in Australia, offering the netbook for free if you sign up to one of two 24-month contract plans — a $49.99 per month plan that includes 2GB of data and a $69.99 per month plan with 5GB of data. The netbook's 3G module is unlocked, meaning you can use your own SIM card if you wish. The Samsung N220 is sold exclusively through Optus and is not available without signing up to a contract. The Samsung N220 netbook includes Optus' wireless broadband software preinstalled, and getting online is a simple matter of launching the application and clicking connect.
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