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Customer Review

on March 31, 2010
I ordered the Samsung N150 after much research and have not been disappointed. The main reasons for my choice were: 1. Matte screen, which I prefer over the glossy screens of other netbooks I've seen in stores, 2. Battery life, 3. Matte blue finish of cover doesn't show fingerprints, 4. Positive reviews of keyboard, 5. Super-quiet fan. And so far, all of these features have lived up to my hopes. Other nice features: silky smooth operation of lid hinges, and the built-in webcam and microphone.

One downside as noted by a previous reviewer: the initial setup of the hard drive and software takes a LONG time (one hour, more or less). From what I've read, there are other netbooks out there with much shorter setup times. Fortunately, you only have to go through setup once with this netbook. Be patient, and you'll get through it fine. Just don't expect to be doing useful work until the day after your box comes in the mail.

Another negative is that the processor seems relatively slow (compared to desktop PCs or full-size laptops) at some operations like booting, doing data transfer, and unpacking/installing software. This is just because of the processor, which has been optimized for low power usage. And I imagine that other netbooks have the same shortcoming, so it's no particular knock against the N150. It's the price all netbooks pay for being small and power-stingy.

Having said that, once the Samsung gets itself booted and ready to go, it does fine at web browsing, email, word processing, and video watching. I was able to watch a streaming Netflix video with no problems. Speakers are decent, but a battery-powered iPod speaker like an Altec Lansing iM237 plugged into the headphone jack gives a much better and louder sound.

Suggestions:

1. Allow at least one hour for initial setup. Be patient.

2. Either turn off the automatic "Windows Update" in the control panel, or change the frequency of updates from "every day" to "one day per week." The automatic update hogs the processor each time it runs, and you'll be wondering why the netbook is running so slowly every morning.

3. In the Start menu, type "Task Manager" in the search box and put a shortcut for the Task Manager in your Start menu or on your taskbar. Get familiar with the Task Manager because it shows you CPU usage, memory usage, and what processes are running in the background. When the blue "hard disk" light starts flashing and the netbook slows down, the Task Manager will tell you why.

4. In the Start menu, type "gadgets" in the search box, and install the "CPU" gadget on your desktop. The large dial gives a constant readout of CPU usage, and the small dial a readout of RAM usage. Another good tool for monitoring the CPU workload. When the needle is pegged in the red zone (e.g. at startup) you're not going to get much done. Wait til the needle drops out of the red zone before trying to do any other CPU-intensive tasks.

5. Forget the installed McAfee antivirus program and download the free "Microsoft Security Essentials". It's free and it works great. Saved my other laptop from numerous attacks. Also download the free "Malwarebytes" program.

6. Forget the MS Office "trial" software and download the free Open Office, which works just like MS Office and can open MS Office files, and an save in MS Office format. (Open Office also plays better with this netbook than the included MS Works package. I downloaded Open Office and then uninstalled both MS Office and MS Works.)

Some owners have reported that replacing the 1GB RAM stick with 2 GB RAM improves performance. Before going that route, I tried the Windows ReadyBoost feature, which Microsoft says will improve performance in some operations. Exactly which operations is not clear, and when I tried using ReadyBoost with a 4GB USB emory stick, I wasn't able to discern any difference.

All in all, the Samsung is a competent netbook in a nice package. Two thumbs up.

Update: After upgrading to 2 GB RAM and having used this netbook for a couple of weeks, I like it even better. Upgrading the RAM definitely helped performance. And the matte screen is definitely better than the glossies, and the keyboard is much better than my friend's Asus eeePC keyboard. The trackpad is just too small for more than occasional emergency use, though, so I use an iHome mid-size wireless optical mouse, which I love and highly recommend. Being freed from the tiny trackpad and the marginal 1 GB RAM makes this little machine a pleasure to use.

PS--If you do install Microsoft Security Essentials, be sure to follow their instructions for uninstalling other antivirus programs first (in this case, McAfee). I apparently failed to do so, and eventually noticed an oscillation in CPU usage as shown by the Task Manager when the CPU should have been idle. A Google search suggested a conflict between two competing antivirus programs. I went back and uninstalled McAfee by using the "appwiz.cpl" command per instructions on the Microsoft Security Essentials site, and problem solved.
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