As with most netbooks, including the excellent MSI U160, the N230 features a 10.1-inch screen. The fairly standard 1024 x 600 pixel resolution is present, and we were pleasantly surprised by just how detailed an image the netbook produces.
Images and text prove razor sharp, and you'll have no problem reading and editing even the most detailed spreadsheets.
But the N230's screen also excels when it comes to brightness. We found it almost painful to look at when on full, and this means that you'll have no issue reading the screen outdoors or in bright light, where viewing documents, for example, can be an irritating affair on a dim screen.
As a result of this brightness, colour vibrancy and contrast also impress, and those who enjoy flicking through their photos or watching films will take enjoyment in how high the image quality is.
Thankfully, Samsung has refused the temptation to employ a shiny screen finish, normally used in a bid to increase the quality of colour reproduction. The problem with that finish is that it creates irritating reflections in bright light, which make viewing the panel difficult. We find it especially annoying in rapidly moving light conditions, say on a train.
The N230's screen sits inside a tough plastic case, which provides decent protection for the panel, and features a shiny finish. This looks great but quickly collects dust and dirt – as well as smudges and smears – and regular cleaning is the only way the keep the N230 looking smart. If you'd prefer a matt finish it might be worth considering something like the Sony W-Series netbook.
Unlike the screen lid, the N230's chassis is built from matt black plastics. The netbook is very well built and the chassis panels are almost entirely flex free, meaning that you won't have to worry about being too careful with the netbook. Stick it in a protective sleeve and it should survive everything the average journey has to throw at it with ease.
Despite the matt black finish, the N230 features some nice little design flourishes, including mock-chrome lid hinges and a brushed aluminium effect on the palmrest – both adding a nice touch of class.
Already noted that the N230's usability is excellent, and that's largely down to the keyboard. Samsung has pedigree when it comes to keyboard design, and we haven't experienced quite such a firm and concise action on a netbook for a while.
We were typing fluidly on the chiclet style board from the word go, and a nice typing angle is provided by the large battery, which props the rear of the N230 up 9mm off the desk.
The only negative point worth mentioning is that the left and right arrow keys sit in very close proximity to the page up and down keys, and it took a while before we weren't mistakenly hitting the wrong keys.
Very importantly, you won't brush the N230's touchpad when typing. This can be a real irritant on other machines as the cursor then changes the location you're writing in, making it very hard to get a good rhythm going.
Down the left side of the chassis you get one USB 2.0 port and the 10/100 Ethernet interface, while down the right of the chassis sit a further two USB 2.0 ports, a Kensington lock and a VGA out.
We can understand why Samsung hasn't kitted the N230 out with an HDMI port. It is fundamentally a business machine, after all, but with many people carrying their entertainment around with them these days it would be a nice to be able to hook the netbook up to a large external monitor to enjoy a film on the a large screen, for example.