In usual Samsung style, the N230 comes wrapped in a deep black glossy exterior. Under the facade lurks the now ubiquitous N450 Atom processor. Pootling along at 1.66 GHz, it does include a hyperthreaded core which gives the illusion of multiple processors.
It doesn’t mean you’ll be able to chug through video processing any faster, but it does work around some of the Atom’s sluggishness when it comes to running multiple apps, which is why it’s a favourite for netbook use. The Acer Aspire 532, Toshiba Mini NB305 and Sony Vaio M all use it, as well as the Samsung N220.
Some may complain about limited viewing angles from the screen, but to be fair, a netbook is more of a personal device anyhow, and if you want to run your slideshows at the boardroom meeting, make use of the VGA output instead. That said, the matte effect on the screen doesn’t do much for video playback or games, but it does help you read your emails under peksy office lighting or in the airport lounge.
The 10.1” 1024x600 display, powered by the onboard Intel GMA3150 processor, is more than adequate for most desktop and network tasks, including YouTube and Skype (yes, there is a built-in webcam), though it doesn’t handle HD video particularly well. There’s also an additional rescaled 1024x768 screenmode which can help with apps that demand a bigger display, but you won’t want to use this for long periods.
6 cell battery pack
Easily the most impressive feature of this netbook is how long it lasts on a single charge. The quoted figure of 13.8 hours of running time is realistic, and it makes good use of the installed Windows7 Starter OS’s sleep facilities to keep it going for as long as possible.
In part this is made possible by the throbbingly bulbous battery pack, which conveniently doubles as an angled stand at the rear of the device. Storing 5900 mAh of juice, the 6-cell battery also contributes a fair share to the overall weight, though this still remains a portable 1.18Kg
Many milliwatts are no doubt saved by the smart shutdown feature. Using Windows 7-supported sleep modes, the N230 will go into a kind of suspended animation as soon as you close the lid or it otherwise suspects you of not paying attention. The result is that you can just flip it open for an instantaneous start-up throughout the day without worrying about shutting down or losing your data. As a lot of battery power is expended just trundling through the normal Windows boot sequence, you might be tempted never to shut down ever again.
Ports and connections
The N230 hardware is short on frills. The keyboard is fairly typical for a netbooks – slightly smaller than usual, fat and square keys with a limited amount of travel. How you will get on with it depends on whether you have a light touch or miss the days of the manual typewriter and still can’t shake the habit of hammering every key for emphasis.
We would say that a generous 250GB drive whirrs away beneath the surface, but it’s practically silent. Three USB 2.0 ports (including one which, with the help of the BIOS, can supply power even when the netbook is off) provide peripheral connectivity, 10/100 Ethernet, a front-mounted SD slot and the usual audio jacks round off the connections. Pretty much the standard kit for these devices.
The N230 isn’t anything amazing, but it is competent, and the serious amount of uptime you can get out of a single charge is not to be overlooked.