Samsung NC10 review
It's been a long time coming, but Samsung's debut in the already crowded netbook market is finally here. It's up against some pretty stiff competition, though, so the burning question is whether Samsung's alchemists have used that time to perfect the netbook formula.
If its name hasn't given the game away already, the NC10 is a 10.2in netbook. That leaves it with a similar footprint to Asus's Eee PC 1000H and MSI's Wind, and it weighs in at a very portable 1.3kg. So far, so ordinary.
But, in a world where first impressions count, the NC10 comfortably sits head and shoulders above your average netbook. Or at least it does if you conveniently ignore the lithe form of Asus's gorgeous, if pricey, S101.
Even though the less glamorous likes of MSI's Wind and Asus' Eee PC 1000H are far from grotesque, there's just that certain something about their broad curves and glossy plastic sheen which all too readily gives away their modest cost.
Not so the NC10. Our model came finished in a virginal, matte white, and while the chrome-effect strip running from hinge to hinge is a bit of an acquired taste, it really doesn't look cheap at all. In fact, place it on a desk and it immediately looks like a fully-fledged ultraportable, and a rather nice one at that. Even if you do find the matte white just that bit too ostentatious, you can always pick up an NC10 in classier dark blue or black finishes.
Look beyond the NC10's pretty exterior, and it continues to impress. The chassis feels sturdy enough to survive the odd knock along its travels, and the lid feels reassuringly stiff, too. Prod or twist it while the NC10 is up and running, however, and the displayed image ripples in response. It's a trait which indicates that the LCD panel isn't quite as well protected as it could be - that's not uncommon in netbooks, but we'd make sure to keep the NC10 in its accompanying neoprene slipcase, or better still, keep it in the padded womb of a proper laptop bag.
Pop the Samsung in your lap and start tapping and clicking away, though, and that's where the NC10 comes into its delightfully tactile own. Smaller 9in netbooks such as Asus's Eee PC 901 and Dell's Inspiron Mini might narrowly trump the NC10 when it comes to size and weight, but regardless of whether it's taking on 9in or 10in notebooks, Samsung's netbook roundly thumps the opposition when it comes to sheer usability. The keys are almost full-sized, and although Samsung has had to compress the odd key here and there, the sensible layout helps make light of even long stretches of typing.
That spacious keyboard doesn't leave a whole lot of room for the trackpad, which ends up wide and squat, but it's usable enough. We weren't quite so keen on the accompanying buttons, though. Like the MSI Wind, the NC10's button is a single rocker which tilts left and right, but as it sits flush with the wrist-rest, clicking and dragging motions were just a tad fiddlier than they should have been.
In all fairness, however, such observations are little more than nit-picking. Few people in the PC Pro office had a bad word to say about the NC10, and those that did tended to be owners of rival netbooks bought with their own cold, hard cash. Given the quality of the keyboard, it's easy forgive such minor transgressions.
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