NbC: Samsung N120 Review

May 18, 2009 at 9:32 am

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Samsung N120In our view, two of the most important considerations when buying a netbook are the keyboard and battery life. Samsung has ticked both of these boxes with the N120; it provides one of the least compromised experiences yet found in a 10-inch netbook. The wonderful full-sized keyboard offers good tactile feedback and keys that are located in the right places. Accommodating this keyboard leads to a big (ugly) bezel around the screen, but Samsung has made the most of this by placing speakers on either side of the screen. The sound quality is some of the best seen, although that does not mean it is the loudest.

Many netbook manufacturers are now looking at battery life to provide the ‘all day computing’ experience that many consumers crave. The Samsung N120 delivers on this front and should easily last 7 -8 hours whilst web browsing or using Office. On our tests, it didn’t last quite as long as the Asus Eee PC 1000HE, but there wasn’t much in it. However, how does the Samsung N120 fare as an overall package? Read on for our detailed review where we run some comprehensive performance and battery tests as well as address some issues that are worth pointing out to potential buyers.

– Full-width keyboard is a first for 10-inch netbooks
– Very good battery life that should last 7-8 hours of typical netbook use
– Sound imaging enhances music & movie playback
– Subwoofer provides mid-range sound boost
– Crisp, bright and vibrant display
– Matte exterior means no risk of fingerprint marks on lid
– Easy access to RAM
– Reasonably lightweight at 1.3kg, considering the inclusion of a 6-cell battery

– Glossy display, not as bad as others but still difficult to use when outdoors
– HDD clicking noise can be loud & distracting
– Touchpad is not the biggest
– No draft N wireless
– Large screen bezel may annoy some
– No easy access for HDD, but can be done with patience

Samsung N120 Technical Specifications:

  • Operating System: Windows XP Home SP3
  • CPU: Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.6 GHz)
    533MHz FSB with 512KB Cache
    Chipset: Intel 945GSE + ICH7M
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
    128 MB shared memory
  • System Memory: 1 GB DDR2 800MHz (2GB Maximum)
  • Display: 10.1-inch WSVGA 1024 x 600 LED Backlit
  • Storage Hard Drive: 160 GB, 2.5-inch 5400 RPM
  • Connectivity: Ethernet LAN 10 / 100 BaseTX
    Wireless LAN 802.11 b/g
    Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • Ports: VGA
    Mic-in Yes
    3 x USB 2.0 (2 chargeable USB ports)
    Multi Card Slot 3 in 1 (SD, SDHC, MMC)
    RJ45 (LAN) Yes
  • Other Features:
    Multimedia Speakers 3W (1.5W x 2)
    Integrated Camera: 1.3 megapixel
    Input Keyboard Type: 82 keys
    Touch Pad
    Security Kensington Key Lock Capable
  • Power: AC Adapter 40 W
    Battery: 6 cell lithium ion (5900mAh)
  • Dimensions & Weight:
    Width 272 mm (10.71-inches)
    Depth 188.5 mm (7.4-inches)
    Height 29.8mm (1.17-inches)
    Weight: 1.28kg (2.8lbs)
  • Price (at time of publication): £358.97 (, £358.97 (Laptops Direct), £379.99 (
    US Prices: $459.99 (Newegg), $432.99 (

Samsung N120

Following the huge success of its NC10 netbook, Samsung made the surprising move of announcing three new 10-inch netbooks all in quick succession. Samsung was not looking to dilute its offering though as all three netbooks offer something different. The Samsung N110 is effectively a refresh of the NC10, which improves on its predecessor through an expanded touchpad and a higher capacity 6-cell 5900mAh battery (versus 5200mAh in the NC10) that should give 9.5 hours of continuous use according to Samsung. The Samsung N310 takes a completely different approach, mainly through stylish design cues to target a different audience.

This leaves us with the Samsung N120, which once again, differentiates itself against Samsungs other two netbooks. Even compared to its 10-inch peers outside of Samsung, the N120 is not just another netbook. Yes, if you looked at the technical specifications, that is a conclusion you may draw, however there are a couple of unique points that make it stand out from the crowd.

Probably the most important differentiator is that this is the first 10-inch netbook we have seen that has managed to squeeze a full 12-inch sized keyboard into its chassis. The second is that the Samsung N120 includes a 2.1 SRS sound system, certainly unique when it comes to netbooks. A quoted battery time of 10.5 hours rounds off the Samsung N120 as a compelling proposition.

As we mentioned before, the specifications themselves are nothing to get excited over. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before. The Samsung N120 has a 10.1-inch (1024 x 600) LED backlit display. It is powered by your typical 1.6GHz N270 Atom CPU & 945GSE chipset combo and comes with 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard-disk drive. Initially, it was thought that the N120 may be restricted to just 1GB of RAM, however we can confirm that the N120 does support a maximum of 2GB RAM. Indeed, Samsung makes it very easy to change the memory with a dedicated access panel at the bottom of the unit.

We previously covered the unboxing of the Samsung N120 which you can find here. Inside the box you’ll find a soft pouch, power supply, system CD along with various pieces of documentation. The power supply is only marginally bigger than the one seen in the Asus Eee PC 1000HE, however it did feel heavier. For reference purposes, the power brick measures 40m in width, 92mm in height and 27mm in depth.

The soft pouch has no zip and just folds over like an envelope. It has a much nicer feel to the one included with the Asus 1000HE. We managed to fit the power supply and plug into the case, alongside the N120, although it was a bit of a squeeze.

Samsung N120

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12,407 Responses to “NbC: Samsung N120 Review”

  1. Jez - Samsung Netbook Community said:
    May 18th, 2009 1:19 PM

    Feedback so far suggests that people are liking the larger N120 keyboard. Well played Samsung.

  2. Kronos said:
    May 19th, 2009 8:33 PM

    i would like a larger keyboard, but with a larger screen too.
    something like 11,6″ oder so – i think it would fit in the n120 case

    is this one a review smapleor have you bought it ? in Germany they sell the N110 only with the 58 Wh // 5.2 Ah battery, but the reviewers get the 64 Wh // 5.9Ah one.

    good review

  3. Tej said:
    May 19th, 2009 9:15 PM

    We tested a final retail version, as you would find in the shops here in the UK. As far as I know all Samsung N120 netbooks come with the 5900mAh 6-cell battery.

  4. MiniMax said:
    May 20th, 2009 11:29 AM

    In my view, literally, the most important aspects in regard to netbooks are display quality and weight/size. Because I will use it for seeing informations not writing that much, that I will do either at the office or home desktop. And unfortunately, the bulk of newer and announced netbooks is worse than before: the unending trend for glossy displays kills the usability at least for me. (plus that so few are available with built in 3G/UMTS modems.)

  5. Tej said:
    May 20th, 2009 11:51 AM

    No doubt, everyone has a different view as what are the most important netbook considerations. We should perhaps do a poll at some point to find out what comes out on top!

  6. ratonlaveur said:
    May 20th, 2009 9:45 PM

    The U.S. version has a 5200mah battery. Interesting as the U.S. N110 is 5900mah while most N110’s in Europe are 5200mah..

  7. Tej said:
    May 20th, 2009 10:47 PM

    I wasn’t aware of that, thanks for the clarification!

  8. Fanfoot said:
    June 11th, 2009 6:25 AM

    Sorry, but this is stupid.

    If they’re going to make it this big, the display should be BIGGER. A 1024 x 600 display has you scrolling around constantly, especially vertically. If you have room for it, a 720p display at 11″ or so would be MUCH BETTER.

    Sorry, but the size of a netbook matters. I take my 9″ netbook (too small) lots of places I would never take my 13″ laptop. Make it too big and its not a netbook anymore, at least to me. If you’re going to put a 10″ display in the thing, make it no bigger than necessary. You can find perfectly acceptable keyboards on 10″ netbooks (check out the HP 2140 for example), without resorting to this.

    They didn’t “squeeze” the keyboard into anything. They just cranked the bezel up until the regular keyboard fit. Not for me.

  9. ckjy said:
    June 25th, 2009 5:13 PM

    It bears mentioning that the N120 also supports charging peripherals while in sleep mode through a BIOS setting. In addition, the internal wireless card can be changed for one that supports draft 802.11n (the Intel 5300 is your best bet).

  10. Jet Sun said:
    June 25th, 2009 5:19 PM

    We did mention that two of the USB ports are chargeable on page 4, something that most other reviews missed. Also, not many mentioned the fact that the N120 has a multi-touch touchpad.

  11. ann martin said:
    September 8th, 2009 8:36 PM

    I just ordered the samsung N120. I would like to play dvd movies on it. what do you suggest I do to accomplish this.

  12. Eleutheria said:
    September 23rd, 2009 2:51 AM

    Thank you for your review of N120, it’s mostly convinced me to buy one – my local university has a sale, it’s priced at USD $371, and its battery is 9-10 hours (regional Hong Kong variation I’ve been told).

  13. Eleutheria said:
    September 23rd, 2009 2:52 AM

    PS. No sales tax

  14. n120 user said:
    January 24th, 2010 5:59 PM

    I have one of these machines that i picked up for $299. I’m fighting the kids over who gets to use it. The battery seems to alst forever, it’s fully functional, and yes, the screen size is a bit small but for the price i’m happy to deal with it. The screen size is adequate to watch video, and there are only a few websites that require careful scrolling and panning. This is a great airplane worker – small enough for the tray table, big enough to get real work done.

    I asked my office to buy two more for “floaters” that employees can grab on their way out the door for work trips.

    in short, i love it.