Wednesday, February 3, 2010...9:30 am

How I hate my Samsung N140 netbook

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As any visitor will have noticed, things are still quiet on Freelance Unbound this week.
Partly this is to do with the fact that I am so busy I can barely read blogs, let alone write one. But also it’s because  haven’t yet had the time, or the nerve, to perform major invasive surgery on my PowerBook, which died about ten days ago.
As a desperate measure, I made a distress purchase of a netbook to see me through until I could fix it. This has been a mixed blessing.
As the blatant, sluttily SEO-fixated headline above indicates, I don’t really like it. However, I admit this isn’t all Samsung’s fault. It is, by its nature, a Windows machine, and a lot of my problems with the machine come down to that.
So, how do I hate my netbook? Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s slower than geological time
    Seriously, continents have rejoined and split apart in the time it takes to boot up and start up my program files. Whole phyla have become extinct waiting for my Documents folder to open. I have traversed the wheel of existence many times waiting for the volume control to register my despairing clicks. Mind you, I don’t know if this is the fault of the much-hyped Windows 7, or that the netbook is just underpowered. I upgraded the RAM, but that never seems to do anything – who knows?
  2. It crashes relentlessly
    When I’m on the train trying to draft a blog post, for example, which is the whole point of a netbook, and which is so irritating I can’t actually express it in words. It also keeps trying to restore itself in strange, “safe” modes that I don’t understand, and advises me to do troubleshooting things that, frankly, make me uneasy. It’s a Windows thing, I’m sure. And maybe I’m just a Mac person. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it’s not you, it’s me.
  3. More alarmingly, it gives me hardware error messages
    “Your sound card is faulty, Spotify cannot play your track” is one such. But is this dodgy hardware? Or one of those software-driver error type things that’s fixed with a reboot? My rail-fail blog crash also cited an undetermined hardware problem as its cause. But is this enough to be able to send it back to Amazon? I’m paralysed with ignorance and indecision.
  4. Windows sucks
    As a user experience – not necessarily as a technology platform. I’m sorry, how many menu actions do I have to go through to delete a file, or move it between folders? I’m sure there are shortcuts (sweet Jesus there must be), but I sure as hell haven’t found them yet. Give me the flexible foldery goodness of Mac OS X and its intuitive drag and drop interface. Please, PLEASE give it back to me.
  5. It’s so flaming small
    Yes – I know that’s the whole point of a netbook. But trying to figure out how to use the crappy operating system and actually evolving into a new life form in the time it takes to open Windows Media Player  is made even harder because it’s all so cramped. If only Apple made a ten-inch netbook-type product… oh crap.

Yes – my real problem was timing. If my old machine had just managed to hang in for another couple of months I could be typing this now on an iSlatePad and the world would be beautiful.
But, frankly, this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve spent a lifetime just behind the technology curve – buying gadgets mere weeks before they become superseded by the next five-year wave. Why should this be any different?
The only bright spot in all this is that it has helped me overcome my fear of taking my PowerBook apart. Desperate times call for desperate measures – the soldering iron comes out at the weekend…


  • Oh crap. These netbooks suck. It’s faulty. Send it back. We had one of these at work, and right after installing a real operating system on it it just stopped working. Get a replacement and hope it does better – ours does now 😉
    And ps: Windows is supposed to be just as drag’n’droppy as MacOS is. Hell, even most of Linux support that nowadays!
    See you,

  • Hi Lukas
    Yeah – maybe you’re right. I just don’t want to face customer service hell if I can avoid it. And it does kinda work. Though it doesn’t talk to my old external hard drive without me buying another piece of software. But that’s the Mac’s fault for having the HFS+ format…

  • Tut tut. You think a broken PowerBook justifies this hideous panic purchase? You’re a Mac man Mr Clarke – you should know better. Get soldering.

  • What a nightmare…We all have our moments of madness! A few days after Vista launched I ordered a Dell laptop – what a mistasker to maker! Even Dell’s own crappy promo software that it insists on pre-installing didn’t work with Vista, forget InDesign/Photoshop/anything I actually needed!
    Ten zillion calls to Bangalore + a letter to Dublin and eventually a spotty bloke in a tracksuit came a long and collected it…never again.
    For me it’s OSX and Linux (or if I really must, XP). But life is too short..I say get it back to Amazon!

  • Thanks for the general sympathy and support in these trying times. The netbook is behaving a bit better these days – I may just hang on to it.
    But a new iBook for real work is top on my list of priorities. To think that some people have no choice at all – the thought makes me shudder…

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