REVIEW: Samsung NP-N145 Plus Netbook PC

Given the rapid rise of tablet devices and the quickly plummeting prices of entry-level notebooks, you would think that no one would actually want a netbook anymore. Even so, these mini-laptops are still around and there are still people who want to have them.

The Samsung NP-N145 Plus follows along the short-lived tradition of the netbook, offering many of the specs and features you’ve come to expect from products in this range. It’s no powerhouse, but it’s not priced as a powerhouse either. After all, it’s still cheaper than buying an iPad if all you want is some casual web surfing on a screen bigger than your smartphone.

Quick Spec Check

Anyone who has been in the market for a netbook PC in the last year or so won’t find too many surprises when it comes to the N145 Plus. It comes powered by an Intel Atom N450 processor. That’s a dual-core chip, moving along at 1.66GHz.

The fairly standard 10.1-inch display has a webcam embedded above it, Windows 7 Starter 32-bit runs the show, and you get backed up to 1GB of RAM, the usual assortment of ports, and an SD card reader.

First Impressions and Build Quality

I’ve encountered my fair share of cheap netbooks, using less than impressive materials and offering a less than acceptable build quality. Thankfully, the N145 Plus from Samsung isn’t like that.

For starters, they’ve opted away from the glossy surface of most netbooks for a matte finish all around. That’s a good thing, as you don’t have to worry (as much) about it being a fingerprint magnet. It’s also nice how the battery is designed in such a way as it “props up” the back part of the netbook. This allows for better ventilation on its underside.

Compared to many other netbooks in this price range, the Samsung N145 Plus certainly feels like it is better made than most. The guts inside, as described above, are pretty much par for the course though.

Keyboard and Trackpad

It’s not really a chiclet keyboard, but the keyboard does offer a decent amount of separation between the individual keys. They offer just the right amount of key travel and “clackiness” that I want to see in a keyboard. Remember that this is a netbook-sized keyboard, though, so if you haven’t dabbled in this realm before, you might find it a little cramped.

While I like how they laid out the directional keys (and page up/down keys) toward the bottom-right corner of the keyboard, I’m not a fan of the placement of the “\” key in that same corner. More often than not, when my right pinky finger went reaching for the shift key, I’d hit the “\” key instead. That’s terribly annoying. Look just above it; the key is basically duplicated. Get rid of the bottom one and give me a larger shift key, please.

As far as the trackpad is concerned, it offers a similar finish as the rest of the netbook. It’s smooth and of a decent size, given the netbook proportions. Multitouch gestures, like two-finger scrolling, work. Most people will likely want an external mouse for longer sessions, but it does the job in a pinch.

General Everyday Performance

If you’re expecting the kind of heavy lifting that you would get even with a bargain-minded consumer notebook, you’re going to be disappointed. This is anything but a powerhouse, but it’s just fine for the more basic tasks on your list.

Need to surf the web, watch a YouTube video, or edit a blog post? No problem. The smaller screen resolution of a netbook isn’t exactly ideal, but it is certainly more portable than its full-size notebook counterparts. I wouldn’t push the web browsing beyond a half dozen tabs or so, though, as it will start to lag.

Similarly, you probably don’t want to try doing any major picture or video editing on this either. You can do minor stuff in Movie Maker and Paint, but not much beyond that. Go in with the right expectations and you’ll get what you need.

Overall Thoughts

When netbooks first hit the scene, they seemed like a fascinating possibility. Smartphones weren’t nearly as widespread at the time and netbooks were a lot cheaper than real laptops. Then, the world changed.

I used to use a netbook for checking my e-mail on the go and doing some casual web surfing; I do that on a smartphone now. If I want to do any lifting that is remotely heavier, I whip out a real laptop instead. After all, you can get a bargain notebook for $400 or so no, which is awfully close to the price of a netbook.

This isn’t to knock the Samsung N145 Plus. Compared to other netbooks in the same range, it offers a good deal of quality and comfort, as well as a nice ergonomic design. However, the netbook market as a whole probably isn’t going to stick around much longer. People are much more inclined to use their smartphones (or tablets) for tasks previously assigned to the netbook. How much longer can they last?

[$339 from Samsung]


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14 Comments

  1. victus says:

    to be honest with you, this samsung N145 is as unreliable as laptops come, it crushes too frequently even if you don’t run gaming softwares, i am having a lot of problems with mine and even redeeming my warrenty has turned to a big fight. A very dubious computer and firm

  2. femy says:

    i want to add word or office and i read a review that there is a free version online . can anyone advise?

  3. Stevwaina says:

    @807999d9370706e1de5e045ab287dc72:disqus , about 80% charge, click start button, then on search files  and programmes, enter batterylifeextender – one word, click on it and you can change the settings to charge upto 100%.  About the brightness, click on the battery icon at the bottom, then click adjust screen brightness and you can change to the brightness to the level you want.  Hope this helps.

  4. Hola says:

    - Atom N450 processor is not a dual core chip.

    - N450 doesn’t support DDR3

    - N455 support DDR3

    It’s too much difficult post a CPU-Z screen capture?

  5. shelly says:

    Hi, I bought the Samsung Sens N145 Plus with a windows 7 starter…
    I didn’t notice it at first… and don’t know if it was like this from the start.. but my computer won’t fully charge.
    it always charges up to 80%… plus I can’t change the brightness of my computer… I’m horrible with computers.. please help!!!! Thank you!

  6. Mc says:

    Sorry, but this has a SINGLE CORE chip.

  7. It is the iPad together with a wireless keyboard that has transformed my life. Two years ago tomorrow I wrote a blog post saying It is totally INSANE that you cannot use an external keyboard on an iPhone.

    • iphonedetail says:

      Well, when since the time the iOS versions have been a bit better aligned, you can now also use a bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone … but usually the tasks where you really want a physical keyboard are also the tasks where the iPhone screen would feel very tiny. So there’s still a number of cases in which you certainly would prefer an iPad/tablet with BT keyboard rather than a smartphone + BT keyboard.
      Just wanted to point out that you *can* use a BT keyboard with the iPhone.

  8. Tamp79 says:

    I just bought it and I got problems in streaming video, i.e. youtube. I’m not an expert but speaking with a IT guy this is not supposed to happen. Does anyone have any clue about what might be the reason to that and how to correct it? thanks in advance!
    Alessandro

    • Cbrabandt says:

      Hmm–never had any problems with YouTube. Maybe one of the packages I installed set it right before I even tried it. First I did updates and upgrade.

      sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
      sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

      Here are the video-related packages I installed:

      sudo apt-get vlc
      sudo apt-get install vlc-nox
      sudo apt-get install mplayer
      sudo apt-get install totem-xine libxine1-ffmpeg libdvdread4

      I’ve found a few bugs in Unity (sometimes the launcher is unresponsive to the first click and otherwise behaves strangely and the date doesn’t update in the panel clock) but the gnome desktop works great! I use gnome most of the time anyway. I’ve had no problems with video. I also installed the Chromium browser (the open source version of Google Chrome w/o the spyware) and it’s very snappy, compared to Firefox, which seems to be growing long in the tooth with age. :( Chromium is newer so there are fewer plugins than can be found for Firefox, however.

      Hope one of these packages helps you.

    • Cbrabandt says:

      Oops–I just realized that, if you were talking to an IT guy, you’re probably running the Windoze 7 that came with the netbook. Sorry, I only ran the installed OS long enough to know it’s slow as snails and installed Ubuntu 10.10. My comment, above, only applies to Ubuntu, of course. You might want to give it a try. You could dual boot, if you must have Windoze too.

  9. Imoeman says:

    I bought the N145 Plus for $249.99 from Best Buy and It works perfect for Netflicks and playing Starcraft 1. hulu.com is a little choppy but I’m upgrading the 1GB DDR3 memory to 2 and I think it will be just fine.

  10. 145 Plus Plus says:

    While it is good to identify a products placement among comparables, it is unfortunate that the reviewer’s dislike for netbooks preempts an otherwise decent review of this unit. There are trade-offs with everything so for those that understand a netbook has advantages over laptops, tablets, and smartphones, let me fill in the blanks with regard to the Samsung N145 Plus.

    There is a common misconception that netbook keyboards are cramped. While you can find greater spacing in the Toshiba NB305 netbook keyboard, the Samsung N145 Plus keyboard spacing is within a millimeter of my 15″ Toshiba Satellite laptop and once you get used to the placing of the other keys there is no loss in production.

    You can Page UP, Page down, Home and End, with this unit – something you won’t find on the HP models, and some others.

    The Samsung also has an anti-glare screen which is a great feature that any prospective netbook purchaser should look for. It also has a webcam; pretty standard but not mentioned.

    Battery life is good. With some web-surfing, program downloading, moderate YouTube use, and general offline work I’m getting 6-7 hours on a charge. mine has the Atom 455 single-core processor but I find the performance quite acceptable.

    Finally, I bought my unit at Best Buy for $279 – that’s less than a smartphone, quite a bit less than a laptop, and Waaay less than a tablet.

    Whether netbooks will continue to fill a place in the tech market isn’t relevant. What is relevant is how well they fill the reader’s requirements.

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