Samsung continues to refine, rather than redesign, its netbooks. The two latest additions to its N series, the N130 and N140, owe much to existing models in the range, and are essentially the same as each other, especially in terms of appearance. The N140 adds Bluetooth, stereo speakers and a bigger battery, and is more expensive as a result. It's available for around £310.
If you've seen one 10-inch netbook, you've seen them all. The N140 does nothing to advance netbook design. It's slightly more compact and lighter than the N120, but you'd need to see the two models side by side to really spot the changes. The case profile has been tweaked ever so slightly and the black model (a white version is also available) has a silver trim running around the edge of the keyboard. Although chunky compared to the likes of Asus' Eee PC 1008HA Seashell, the N140 is still one of the better-looking netbooks around, and the glossy black lid combines well with the matte black finish on the rest of the machine.
The 10.1-inch screen sits on stiff, wobble-free hinges, but the lid doesn't go far enough back to give a comfortable viewing angle with the N140 on your lap, unless you slouch a little. The vertical viewing angle is wide enough to stop this from being a big problem though, and the 1,024x600-pixel matte screen displays a bright, crisp image.
As with other N-series netbooks, there's a keyboard shortcut to turn off the backlight. You won't be able to see what's on the screen, although the image is still there, but it's a more convenient power-saving method than setting the display to shut off automatically after a minute or two of idle time.
The keyboard is just shy of full-size and the layout is sensible, with a double-height, although narrow, return key. The other keys are a good size too, and seem to have slightly more travel than those on the N120.
The matte black trackpad sits flush with the wrist rest, but is framed by a silver lip that acts as a tactile barrier. This lip sits too high along the bottom edge though, interfering slightly with the single, narrow strip of plastic that forms the mouse buttons. That really is the only complaint we can level at the N140's input options though, and Samsung has done a pretty good job all in all.
Standard netbook performance
The N140 refused to run our PCMark05 and 3DMark06 benchmark tests, but, since it has the stock netbook specification of a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, Intel GMA 950 graphics and 1GB of RAM, we doubt it performs any differently to other models of its ilk.
Nonetheless, full-screen, high-definition YouTube videos play smoothly, although QuickTime video playback is really limited to 480p -- the frame rate drops with higher resolutions and the image starts to tear.
Brilliant battery life
Battery life is the N140's real selling point. Unlike those of other long-lasting netbooks, the six-cell, 5900mAh battery used in the N140 doesn't overly protrude from the case. It sure packs a punch though. In Battery Eater's punishing Classic test, the N140 lasted for a mightily impressive 7 hours, and it stretched to 10.5 hours in the less stressful Reader's test.
Although the Samsung N140 blazes no new netbook trails, we can't knock it. It looks good and it's well-made, but its battery life is its outstanding feature. If you need a low-cost netbook that can last all day away from the mains, look no further.
Edited by Charles Kloet