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NbC: Samsung N510 Review

December 31, 2009 at 10:50 am


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Samsung N510The Samsung N510’s arrival is important for a number of reasons. It is one of the first netbooks to be released armed with the Nvidia ION LE chipset. It is also the company’s first 11.6-inch device. On paper it sounds like a winning combination, you get a 1.66GHz processor, high-resolution matte display, HDMI, Wi-Fi (including Draft-N), Bluetooth 2.1 and a 6-cell 5900mAh battery.

However, times move quickly and with the advent of Windows 7, some may not want to purchase a new netbook that only comes with XP. It’s also not cheap at around the £380 mark, pitting it a significant premium to the main other ION netbook on the market right now, the Compaq Mini 311c at £330. Read on to find out whether ION really makes a difference and whether the Samsung N510 is worth the premium. As usual, you’ll also find some comprehensive performance and battery tests.

Positives

- Typical solid Samsung build quality
- Nvidia ION graphics enables HD video playback & better 3D performance
- High-resolution (1366 x 768) matte display
- Reasonably lightweight for 11.6-inch netbook
- Subtle, functional design
- Comfortable keyboard with no flex
- Touchpad & mouse buttons are responsive
- HDMI-out port enabling you to connect to your TV
- Easy access to HDD & RAM via bottom panel
- Feature-rich [Wi-Fi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, Card Reader, 1.3MP webcam]
- Chargeable USB port

Negatives

- Small right shift key
- The glossy lid is a fingerprint magnet
- Display not as bright as peers
- Use of ION impacts battery life
- Touchpad could have been bigger given chassis size
- Price point towards the top-end for a netbook
- No Windows 7 options right now (in European market)

Samsung N510 Technical Specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Atom Processor N280 1.66GHz; 667MHz FSB; 512KB Cache
  • Chipset: MCP79MZ
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 128MB memory
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 800MHz; 1 x Slot SODIMM
  • Hard Drive: 160GB SATA
  • Operating System: Windows XP Home (SP3)
  • Display: 11.6″ WXGA (1366 x 768) SuperBright Matte HD LED Display
  • Audio: 3 Watts Stereo Speakers (1.5W x 2)
    SRS TruSurround XT, SRS WOW XT, SRS CS Headphone
    Mic Noise Suppression
  • Keyboard: 83 Key with Silver Nano technology (Anti-Bacterial Keyboard)
  • Networking:
    Wired Ethernet LAN (RJ45) 10/100
    Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/N
    Bluetooth 2.1
  • Ports:
    1 x VGA
    1 x HDMI
    1 x Headphone-out
    1 x Mic-in
    1 x Internal Mic
    3 x USB 2.0 (1x Chargeable USB)
    1 x DC-in (Power Port)
  • Other:
    3 in 1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, MMC)
    1.3 mega pixel webcam
    Kensington Lock Port
  • Power Supply: AC Adapter 40 Watt
  • Battery: 6-Cell Lithium ion 5900mAh
  • Dimensions: 289mm x 199.5mm x 26.5~30.3mm (W x D x H)
  • Weight: 1.46kg
  • Price (at time of publication): £381.95 (Amazon.co.uk), £379.97 (Laptops Direct), £389.99 (Play.com), $599.99 (Newegg.com)

Samsung N510

The Samsung N510 is the first 11.6-inch netbook that we have formally tested here at NbC. As with other models we’ve handled at this size it’s quite apparent that they don’t feel that much bigger than some 10-inch netbooks on the market. The Samsung N510 follows the styling of its predecessors and in particular looks similar to the Samsung N120 we tested previously. However, the Samsung N510 has a glossy lid and matte display, whilst the N120 had a matte lid and glossy display. How we’d love Samsung to create a model with both matte lid and display!

Samsung has a reputation for making netbooks with great build quality and comfortable keyboards and we’re happy to report that that trend continues here. Whilst some may argue that the design may be bland, especially when comparing it to Asus’ Seashell range, we like the somewhat sober design. The keyboard has good feedback and it’s easily one of the best we’ve used, following on nicely from the Samsung N120.

The Samsung N510 is pretty much one of the most fully featured netbooks on the market. Apart from the upcoming dual-core Asus Eee PC 1201N Seashell, there probably isn’t a more powerful netbook around. The N510 is the only ION netbook that comes with a 1.66GHz N280 Atom (all others like the HP Mini 311 and Lenovo S12 ION are paired with the 1.6GHz N270 Atom).

Things move quickly in the tech world, however, and the Samsung N510 ‘only’ comes with Windows XP. As pricing sits towards the top-end of the netbook range, some people may be miffed that you don’t at least get Windows 7 thrown in for that price. This mainly applies to the UK as other regions, like the US, ship the N510 with Windows 7 out of the box. There is a trade-off in my opinion, whilst XP gives you better battery life, Windows 7 is the new kid on the block and will have a longer shelf life.

The use of Windows XP means that Samsung has fitted the N510 with Nvidia’s ION LE (entry-level) DX9 chipset rather than ‘full’ DX10 ION. However, as we’ve discussed previously, the likelihood is that these are physically the same chips with certain parts purposely disabled. There are ways in hacking the ION LE chipset to believe it is ION, although this will only make a difference if using the netbook with Windows Vista/7 (DirectX 10 is not compatible with XP). The Nvidia chipset part uses a GeForce 9400M GPU with 128MB memory.

The Samsung N510 comes with an 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) matte LED backlit display, 1GB RAM and 160GB HDD. Both memory and hard drive are easily upgradeable from a large access panel on the bottom. You’ll also find a HDMI-out, three USB ports, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (b/g/n), card reader, a 1.3MP webcam and 3W SRS stereo speakers. Add in a 5900mAh 6-cell battery and you’ll find there’s not too much missing from the N510.

We have previously covered the Samsung N510 unboxing here (including video). Inside the box you will find a power supply, battery, netbook sleeve, some documentation (user manual & warranty card) along with an XP support DVD. The soft pouch has no zip and just folds over like an envelope. It is not designed to carry accessories but works well to keep dust out when it’s just laying around the house (it won’t provide any protection if taking it on the move).

Samsung N510

Samsung N510

Samsung N510

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Comments

17 Responses to “NbC: Samsung N510 Review”

  1. mark69 said:
    December 31st, 2009 11:06 PM

    you should try to make your review a little more thorough- lol jk

  2. Igor said:
    January 5th, 2010 1:31 PM

    Very nice review Tej! It certainly seems like a winner, until a newer one comes out…

    One question though: For you XP is a negative while I would think it is more of a positive at is keeps cost down, less likelyhood for ‘errors’ (craches), longer batery life and the ability to run all necessary programs at the same time.

    The latter referring to Windows7 starter of course.

    Keep up the good work lads!
    Igor

  3. Tej said:
    January 5th, 2010 1:50 PM

    Fair points Igor. I suppose compared against the Asus Eee PC 1201N, which will come with Windows 7 Home Premium, I just felt that the N510 should be priced more keenly. Especially as both have the same recommended price, but the 1201N is also equipped with a dual-core Atom.

    Personally, I have no isses with Windows XP, but when it comes to DXVA compatibility (bult-in WMP12) and likely better future driver support (just look at the situation with GMA500 drivers), Windows 7 has the edge if you’re keen on playing HD video content.

    However, saying that, I had no problems in getting HD video to work in XP, you just have to know the right programs to use (a lot of people don’t!) I’m also not sure whether I’d want to suffer the battery downgrade that W7 would also bring…

  4. ZeDust said:
    January 6th, 2010 7:47 PM

    Hi,

    You know if the motherboard has eSata capabilities ?

    I see your modd on the asus and i would like to know if it’s possible with the N510 :-)

    Thanks,

  5. Bob said:
    January 7th, 2010 6:22 PM

    XP works well. Hopefully we still get to see XP in newer netbooks to dish out HD content flawlessly, save battery life and ofcourse cost even if MS is gunning for Win7 sales. I use XP & its doing its job well & so I intend to keep it running for a long time.

    Couldn’t have asked for better reviews … this is best !! We await newer model reviews from Tej. Any from CES ?

  6. McClane said:
    March 15th, 2011 12:32 PM

    The NVIDIA chip on this is not compatible with Philips HD tvs. So if you connect it via HDMI you get video but audio stays on the N510.

    Not an issue for most, but it is for me, as I bought it specifically to connect to a Philips.

  7. seven said:
    March 28th, 2011 11:26 AM

    The Samsung N510’s battery (Samsung aa-pb0uc3b).

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