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After my white Asus Eee PC 1000H got stolen, I decided to replace it with a black Samsung NC10. The Asus and this Samsung are what is known as a netbook. It?s sort of a small, low cost laptop to let you surf the net, while you?re out and about. I bought it off Dixons.co.uk for £322 in December 2009 (had a 5% off coupon) but it?s going for around £310 at the moment in most places.
The NC10 is Samsung's first stab at the netbook market and they?ve done a blinding job of it. I believe it even won an award for it. The NC10 comes in three flavours, those being black, blue and white. I chose the black as it looks prettier. The white one also looks great but I figured that it would start to pick up dirt and go a bit black, especially the keyboard and touchpad. The white version has a matte lid so doesn't pick up fingerprints as easily, which isn't the case with my black version as the lid has a glossy finish.
** Noticed there's also a pink version now.
It comes with a black slip case, and although better than nothing, this thing has no zip, no padding and not even a bit of Velcro to seal the NC10 in. When you close the flap, it just flips right back open again unless you tuck it right in. This, at best protects the NC10 from scratches, nothing else. That aside, it came with the Windows and driver CDs and the charger. Plenty of other things can be bought for it though, as it is basically a small laptop. There are numerous slip cases, laptop bags and USB, Bluetooth accessories that can be used with the device but the included accessories are particularly disappointing. They could have at least included a cloth like the Asus Eee PC (although I do still have the cloth from my Eee PC).
The NC10 has a 1.6GHz Atom processor and 1GB of RAM, which doesn't sound like much but it is very nippy for a low cost notebook. Music and videos play smoothly as they would on a full size laptop. The memory is even upgradable as the 1GB memory can be swapped with a 2GB one for even more performance. Also, 160GB storage for something that was meant to just be for surfing the net is pretty good and would allow for a lot of downloading. I would prefer this over a Linux netbook with a Solid State Drive with limited storage. Battery life seems to last about 5 hours although they quote 7 hours (probably only if you have it with the lowest brightness and leave it idle).
The Samsung NC10 has a 10.2 inch screen with a native resolution of 1024 x 600, which was one of the deciding factors of buying it as any smaller might make viewing web pages more difficult, in particularly with a lower screen resolution. Any lower and I would most likely need to scroll horizontally as well as vertically across a lot websites. In terms of portability, the small size makes carrying it around easy. It does weigh around 1.3Kg with the battery attached, which isn't too heavy but there are lighter machines around. Unfortunately, those are either too small with a shorter batter life or are too expensive.
The sound quality is not much to write home about. It's nowhere near loud enough and only really any good when in a quiet room. This is unlikely when the whole point of owning an NC10 is to use when out and about. Fortunately, it has a headphone output so you can plug in portable speakers or headphones.
The keyboard is advertised as a full size keyboard. I have small hands so find it fine to type with but still not as good as keyboards found on larger laptops. I touch type as well so a good keyboard is quite important. Due to the overall size of the laptop, it may be as good as it can get though. The Ctrl key is on the bottom left unlike other Samsung laptops I?ve come across so that?s good. The keyboard also has a coating of nano silver, which supposedly kills 99.9% of the bacteria, which is good to know. Although the keyboard is fine, the button under the touchpad is a bit annoying. Instead of having two buttons, it one big button but you can press the left side for left click and the right side for right click. As there?s no separator in the middle, I often press the middle by mistake, which does nothing. I would have preferred two buttons there. The touchpad is quite usable though and even has the scrolling function down the right side by sliding your finger down the right.
It also has a built-in webcam (and microphone). These can be used with programs like Skype or MSN. I think the picture quality of the webcam is excellent. With the Asus Eee PC, everything looks a bit yellow, even when there?s sufficient lighting but the camera on the NC10 has really exceeded my expectations, even if it is a feature I don?t use much!
Wireless is built in but only with the 54G standard, which I think is a slight disappointment as they could have put in a Wireless N network card. That would have given it faster speeds (for internal network transfers) as well as longer range so long as the router complies with the standard. I use a Linksys router with Wireless draft N capabilities so would be able to utilise the higher speeds and better range. The wireless does work fine though.
It has Bluetooth, which is an important feature for me. When I?m out and about and there?s no wireless hotspot around (or free hotspots, at least), I would need to use my phone?s Internet connection but browsing a lot of websites and downloading files onto the phone is not very practical as the screen size is too small and a lot of sites don?t work properly on the phone. What I normally do is enable Internet Sharing on my phone and then access the Internet on the laptop via Bluetooth using the phone as a modem. This way, I can access the Internet on the NC10, which is a lot less fiddly than on a phone. Having Bluetooth capabilities also means that I can transfer pictures from my phone, which I can then email, among other things.
It has three USB ports, which, in my opinion is a good number as this allows room for a USB mouse, flash drive and external DVD drive all at the same time. I had a Q35, which is a 12? laptop which only had two USB ports and I often found that I kept having to unplug things before I can plug something else in. Of course, a USB hub would have solved the problem but that?s one more thing to have to carry around.
It also has a card reader which reads SD, SDHC and MMC memory cards. SD memory is the most common type of memory card so it?s good that they included this.
- Good performance - Upgradeable - Three USB ports - 160GB Hard Drive - Bluetooth - Stylish design - Good keyboard - Built-in web cam (good picture quality)
- Not Wireless Draft N wireless - Picks up finger prints - Poor accessories included - Weird button under touchpad - Resolution could be higher
Overall, I think the Samsung NC10 is an excellent laptop. I like the look of it, the performance, the keyboard, the connectivity options and even the battery life. I would prefer for it to have Draft N wireless and maybe for it to be a bit lighter but those are minor niggles. One thing I would have liked is a higher resolution, even if the 1024 x 600 is perfectly usable, a higher one would give more flexibility in how well certain content is displayed on the laptop. i.e. movies, graphics, etc. Those things aside, I would highly recommend the NC10 or even the newer Samsung netbook models that supercede the NC10 (i.e. NC20). Buy an external DVD drive and you can even use it as a normal laptop as the performance is very good for the price.
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