Friday, April 23, 2010

Samsung N150 Eliah Netbook review

I recently bought a white Samsung N150 netbook because I need it for my upcoming vacation in Japan. There are two target audiences for netbook users: Customers with a limited budget and customers that appreciate the small size and high portability of such devices. In my case, both was true. Since I've spent most of my money on my trip to Japan, I was not able to buy a laptop for like 600-700€ or something. Additionally, I wanted something small that would easily fit in my backpack, including a protectional case, and that does not weigh too much. With it's 10" display and a total size of 180x264mm (10.4"x7.4") and a weight (including battery) of 1240g (2.73 lbs), it fully meets my mobility expectations. You don't even notice the weight when carrying it in a backpack or bag.


Here are some additional specs: Like almost every netbook, the N150 features an Intel Atom at 1,6 GHz. It already uses the newer generation that has been introduced at the beginning of this year. The screen's resolution is 1024x600 pixels, displayed by an Intel GMA 3150 chipset. The resolution can be scaled to 1024x768 for applications that need this resolution, but it then obviously looks ugly. There is an external VGA plug that can output up to 2048x1536 pixels. Neat! I already tried to connect my HDTV and it perfectly works a Full HD 1920x1080 resolution. The N150 ships with Windows 7 Starter and a few drivers, utility software and games pre-installed. On the first boot, the installation is automatically being finalized, which took something like 2 hours, d'oh. In the setup process, you can choose the sizes of the two partitions that will be created. You have a total of 250GB harddisk available for your needs. I chose to have a 80GB system partition and left the rest for data storage. Because Windows 7 Starter only supports 1 GB of memory - you have to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium for something around 80€ when you want more - the netbook has only 1 GB of DDR2-800 installed. The memory can easily be upgraded, because there is a special removable cover to access the module. Another limitation in Windows 7 Starter is that you can't use the external monitor as an extended desktop. Only cloning of the image is allowed. The problem with not being able to change your desktop wallpaper on Windows 7 Starter can be circumvented using this trick.


It comes with a total of 3 USB ports, two on the right and one on the left. The one on the left is the only one that can be used with devices that draw power from the USB port and is labeled with a small "power" symbol. You can enable and disable the power output on this port with a special utility that comes pre-installed. Microphone and external speakers or headphones can be connected via two separate plugs. The aforementioned VGA connector is on the right side, while the ethernet cable can be plugged in on the left side, next to the round, relatively small power connector. Only 10 and 100mbit ethernet are supported - so no gigabit ethernet on the netbook :-( The AC adapter works with 100 to 240 volts, making it perfectly suitable for my stay in Japan. Quite hidden is an SD-card slot beneath the touchpad with the typical, somewhat fiddly cover. It supports the SD, SDHC and MMC formats.

Internal peripheral

That's it for the connectors for possible external peripheral. There already are some nice hardware pieces built in. One of it is the mandatory 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, but Bluetooth is also included, which can be quite handy to transfer pictures from your cell phone when you don't have a suitable (and usually expensive) cable at hand. While you can plug in an external microphone, there is already one built in. It's located next to the touchpad, which was kind of a stupid decision because you easily cover it with your hand when using the touchpad. I used it to Skype with friends and they said that the quality was very good - which surprised me, because it is so tiny. The webcam has a resolution of 320x200 pixels and is very slow. It's not that much fun doing video-chat with it, because you hardly see your movements. A software from Cyberlink is included that can be used to toy with the recorded picture. But it's actually not that great, either. What really bothers me is that there is no hardware switch or other means to disable or cover the webcam. When you got malware installed that can remote-control your webcam, you will never notice. There is no indicator whether the webcam is active or not, either.

Keyboard and touchpad

Being very small, the keyboard obviously does not come with a standard layout. The keys Insert, Delete, Enter, Page up, Page down and the arrow keys are directly accessible. Home and End, on the other hand, are only accessible by pressing the Fn key that's located between the left Ctrl and Windows keys. This is actually the only thing that requires some time getting used to. The rest of the layout is nice and I could immediately touchtype on the keyboard. Too much typing leads to numb fingers (at least for me, of course), because the keys are pretty hard. The numblock keys are located on the regular character keys and can be activated by pressing Numlock (only availble via Fn key). When pressing Fn and the designated numblock keys, they have the same function as the deactivated numblock keys. The F-keys have special functions that can be used by pressing the Fn key:

  • Escape: Sleep
  • F2: Battery status
  • F3: Euro sign (€)
  • F4: Switch monitor modes (when an external monitor is attached)
  • F5: Switch backlight on/off
  • F6: Mute sound
  • F7: Samsung Support Center
  • F8:
  • F9: Disable/Enable WLAN
  • F10: Disable/Enable Touchpad
  • F11: Numlock on/off
  • F12: Scroll lock on/off
  • Insert: Pause
  • Directional up/down: Brightness
  • Directional left/right: Sound volumne
All in all, the keyboard is very usable, despite the Home and End keys and the mislocation of the <>| key.

The multi-touch touchpad has two buttons - no middle mouse button! Scrolling is done with a two-finger move, which sometimes just doesn't want to work, especially when not sitting directly in front of the keyboard. But most of the time scrolling works very neat. There's also a "three-finger-flick" movement available that's supposed to switch between tabs in browsers, but it doesn't work for me (using Google Chrome as my brother on the netbook). The touchpad's sensitivity can be configured and after configuring for my needs, it works flawlessly (well, most of the time, at least). I bought an external mouse that matched the colors of the netbook, but rarely use it - only when gaming. My overall impression of the touchpad is, keeping it's size constraints in mind, very good. And that's although this my first laptop and I'm not used to touchpads at all.


I removed all pre-installed games before trying them, so I can't tell you whether they are fun or not. A 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007 and a full version of Microsoft Works is shipped with the N150, too. The Samsung Recovery Solution is pretty neat. You can easily back up your system partition to your data partition and restore it with only a few mouse-clicks. I think that Samsung Recovery Solution is a re-branded Acronis software. Since I own Acronis True Image Home, I've created a bootable USB-stick with Acronis that I use instead of the Samsung Recovery Solution, though. There are other Samsung tools for: Extending battery life, enable/disable the chargable USB port, manage the display, resolution and network settings and a software to update all Samsung tools. As with all other Windows 7 versions, Windows Live comes for free, which is not at all that bad. For example, you can use the Windows Live Movie Maker to convert movies to a lower resolution when playback is sloppy (which is the case with 720p material).

Working with the N150

When I bought this netbook, I thought that I'd have to live with a number of limitations due to the low-end hardware. I was wrong. The 1.6 GHz Atom with 1 GB of RAM actually performs much better than I had expected. I never ran into memory shortage, even when browsing with a number of open tabs, some of them containing a flash stream. Skype works fast and neat, too, although it warns me that my hardware was too slow. Video playback works great for standard definition videos. 720p videos are a little bit sloppy. It feels like only a few Hertz are missing to play them without stuttering. :-( Using VLC I get much better results than with Windows Media Player or Media Player Classic. I noticed that Flash video streams are very sloppy sometimes, though. I haven't figured out why, yet.

Even when under load, the netbook does not get very hot. It's more like a convenient hand warmer than something that would bother you. The fan and the harddisk are quiet, too, although the constant sound of the harddisk seeks can get on your nerves. You don't hear anything at all when there is some background noise (like a TV or something).

The display's low resolution is less of a problem than I initially thought, too. While there is quite a bit of vertical scrolling, it's not that bad because of the two-finger scrolling move (that works vertically and horizontally, btw). Some applications, however, expect a minimum of 1024x768. That's why you can switch to this resolution and scale it to 1024x600 (which looks ugly, of course, but may be necessary for some buttons to be reached).

But the CPU's missing performance shows in heavy computational tasks such as video transcoding. As I said, 720p videos are not playing without disturbance, so I tried to recode it to 480p using Windows Live Movie Maker (since that's what I had at hand). On my desktop system (a Core i7 860), it took something like 7 minutes, while the netbook was working on it for 1:15 hours. Admittedly, it's not very fair to compare the N150 to a system in which the CPU alone costs as much as the complete netbook.


I would never have thought that a netbook could be such a neat gaming device. Of course, it's only older games or games with 2D graphics that run on the N150. But since there are awesome classic games, you can have quite a lot of fun with gaming on this netbook. For instance, you can run Quake III in 1024x600 with something between 30 and 80 fps. Yay! You can play Diablo II on it, too, but it becomes very sloppy, sometimes only one frame every few seconds, when there are many enemies on screen. Go check for old games for free, such as Nightmare Creatures or Blood. There's also that sell classic games for relatively low prices. Modern "mini-games" like Plants vs. Zombies (you can get it on Steam for half the price) or the extremely famous FarmVille (on facebook) are perfectly playable, too. I even play Beat Hazard (on Steam) using a wireless XBox 360 Gamepad. But of course the device has some limits. I tried Torchlight, a modern Diablo-clone from the original Diablo programmers, but the game was running very sloppy and not playable, although it has a "Netbook mode". You need an Ion-netbook to run it smoothly, I guess. Basically every game released before 2000 should be ok. For later games, I'd try the demo before buying it. I ran the oldest available 3DMark, 3DMark03, and scored 670 points. Doesn't sound amazing, but seems to be enough :-)


I am very happy with this device. The price-tag is friendly to your wallet, the size is portable and the material quality is great. There are a few drawbacks (such as not being able to turn off the camera and a missing middle mouse button), but when you can live with them, there's nothing you can complain about. I have had much fun with it so far, and am sure it'll be a good companion on my trip to Japan. Great buy!


  1. Daniel, is there a trick to enable wi-fi... my mum bought one and I am a mac user... she can't get wi-fi to work... Little help?


  2. Hey,
    there's a small symbol looking like some kind of a gauge with bars in the upper right corner. Click on this and you will see a list of available wifi networks. Then just click on the network and maybe enter the required password.
    Note that you can enable/disable wifi altogether by pressing Fn+F9.
    Here's how it looks for me:

  3. Hi Daniel
    Just bought the N150. Very happy with it. The only thing I can't seem to change is teh click-function on the touchpad. I would like to be able to switch the click-to-go function off and only use the touchpad to direct the pointer (but not to double-click as I would use the buttons for that) Any idea how to change this?


  4. Hi Chris, congratulations to your new netbook ;-)
    You can deactivate clicking in the "Device settings" of your "Mouse properties". I don't know the exact names, because I only have a german win7 installed. Here's a screenshot of the german dialogs:

  5. Hi Daniel,

    Great review.. I bought the N150 for my trip to Europe, it was great for keeping in touch, and storing my photo's, heaps storage space, very light, and great value for money

    But I need some help. I've got back, and want to transfer my photo's from the N150, to my MAC via a USB mass storage device. My N150 picks up my camera, but won't load up my storage device, so I can't transfer the files across. Is it a security issue? Are you able to help a bloke without a clue?


  6. Hi Damien,
    if I'm not mistaken, being a 'bloke' means that you are from australia, right? I'm not that well versed in this kind of slang. ;-) I hope you had a great time here in Europe, did you visit the Oktoberfest in Germany, by any chance?
    The problem with your mass storage might be that Mac uses a different format to store files on it. I've never owned a Mac, nor have I ever touched one, so I'm not that knowledgable about it... but m guess is that you can format our USB stick on your N150 in Windows, put the files on it, and then you should be able to copy them to your Mac.
    Good luck, report any problems, I might be able to find something out for you.

  7. G'day Daniel,

    Well spotted, it must be all those Crocodile Dundee and/or Croc Hunter shows that make it easy to spot an Aussie :)

    Didn't make Germany (plan to next year.. Aussie Dollar permitting), but gave Italy, Spain, and France a red hot go.

    I'll take your advice, and have a go at formatting the USB with my N150. If I have any more problems, I'll let you know.

    Thanks for your time, and your help!!!


    damo (aka a bloke that knows a little more than yesterday)

  8. Hi Daniel, I actually just purchased it and love it. However, I was hoping you can help with this.... I am able to connect to my wireless network (Verizon) at home, but I can't connect at work. The password I use is correct because I can connect WiFi with my Blackberry. What am I missing?

  9. Maybe your employer only allows devices to connect that are known? You can disable/enable access to a WiFi network by hardware address (MAC). If the WiFi is only supposed to be used by the Blackberrys given to employees, this would make sense. Maybe you should talk to your admin

  10. Daniel, thanks so much for the in depth review! I just got one last month and im very happy with it. not being a techie type, just an ol housewife, your tips and tricks have expanded my enjoyment of this cool little machine!

  11. Thanks for your kind words! I'm really glad that this article was useful to some people.

  12. Thanks Daniel. I got one for me too. Well, I install some games, so, they are able to run in medium config. :
    - MAX PAYNE 2
    - CALL OF DUTY 2

    And more games like these. The intel graphics give us a great suport at this machine.

    Sorry guy about my english, I'm just a Brazilian dude. ^^

  13. I have the latest model (n150-jpb2) and discovered
    that their netbooks DO NOT have any modem, nor do they provide any PCI CARD inserts...

    ..but they DO have an SD port, right under the front...

  14. My camera isn't recognized the digital livecam. When I click cyberlink youcam it says nothing is detected. When I use skype I. See them but they can't see me. Do you know where I can redownload a new camera driver. Samsung keeps saying something about a disc. But I didn't get one. Please contact me at I need your help thanks.

  15. hello daniel, how to put a wallpaper in samsung n150 ?

  16. See

  17. Hi Daniel.... I have the same problem as Brian "My camera isn't recognized the digital livecam. When I click cyberlink youcam it says nothing is detected. When I use skype I. See them but they can't see me. Do you know where I can redownload a new camera driver. Samsung keeps saying something about a disc. But I didn't get one. Please contact me at I need your help thanks.

  18. thank you for your help but i formatted mine and on putting windows 7 i cannot connect to wireless network even the icon for wireless is not there what could be issue

  19. Probably nobody cares, but I just wanted to note that this netbook is still in day-to-day-use, now by my fiancé and had never troubled me so far.