Samsung NC-10 Review

I recently purchased a new black Samsung NC10 because I wanted a lighter device for carrying around campus and something with good battery life. Most netbooks on the market have the same stats: Atom processor, 1 gig of ram, and weighing about 2.5 pounds. The biggest choices to make were screen size, battery life, and hard drive space. So I went ahead and sold my grandmother’s old Dell and got my self a Samsung NC-10, with a 10 inch screen, a reported 8 hour battery life, and a 160 GB hard drive, the netbook appeared to fit the bill perfectly. Here are my impressions after a couple of weeks of use.

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First Impressions

The Samsung NC-10 hardware is an amalgam of high build quality and cheap plastic. The screen lid is made out of a nice feeling acrylic and feels well built, but the body is awkwardly shaped and feels like its made out of cheap, not quite perfectly fitting plastic. The 6 cell battery, while giving the netbook amazing battery live (7:00+) and not giving the device too large of a underside bulge makes the device a little back heavy. This isn’t at all a problem on a hard surface, so don’t worry about having it tip over, but it makes it very hard to keep steady on ones lap without something like a book underneath. The device is quiet and runs very cool (especially compared to my fired breathing, crotch searing Macbook Pro). I like that the screen is latch-less, though I don’t think it’s magnets holding it down, just some tension in the hinge, which I worry could get weaker over time.  The boot up time is about 1 minute, give or take a few seconds, which is adequate but could stand to be better.  I’d like this thing to be something I could whip out, check some email or news and put away in 3 minutes, so hopefully one of these instant on Linux OS’s will take care of that.

3 Days

Web browsing and word processing run fine, but the gaming ability isn’t what I thought it would be. I know, I know, gaming on a netbook, are you crazy? It’s true, I never expected much from the device, but its even worse than I thought, and a little wonky on what games run well. Warcraft III (and Starcraft) run great, but modern Stardock games like Galactic Civilizations can’t run on the low resolution screen. 2D games like Defcon and Peggle run smoothly, but even slightly taxing 3D games need to be brought down to the bare minimum of graphical specs. All in all, this is an extremely casual gaming device at best, not only because of the slow processor but because of the small screen.

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1 Week

Web browsing on the small screen took some getting used too, but the size annoys me less than the 1024 x 600 pixel resolution. Typing for long periods of time on the tight keyboard can be a little cramping, but for note taking and light web browsing (my central uses) the keyboard is fantastic. Many notebooks place keys in odd places in order to fit everything on keyboard, but the NC-10’s layout makes almost no compromises. I’m annoyed that the only key strokes that work are the volume and mute keys, but I think it may be because of some software I deleted.

2 Weeks

The battery life, in normal use, has been downright astounding. After 4 hours of use, half with wi-fi on and medium brightness, I have almost 60% battery life remaining. The included power management software makes it easy to adjust not only brightness and screen dimming, but also the CPU speed. I’ve run into some snags online with certain videos streaming choppy, but I’m still impressed with the wireless speed. As I’ve said before, the keyboard is great, but the tiny touch pad and single mouse button are painfully small and almost require that you use a USB mouse for any extended web browsing sessions.

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Final Thoughts

I have no frame of reference in which I can compare this netbook with others, but overall I’m pleased with my purchase. I’m disappointed by a couple  of things: its not even as fast as my grandmother’s 3 year old, 400$ dell.  The keyboard and screen are smaller than expected. The hardware also feels a little cheaper than I thought it would. Even so, the sheer portability of the device and the downright astounding battery life has quickly made this a device I carry with me all across campus.

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2 Responses to Samsung NC-10 Review

  1. JonhT. says:

    I had resisted the purchase of a netbook, but when I read the review of the Samsung NC-10 I simply had to have one. I found it to be everything I’d expected and more, what with its bright screen and tactile keyboard. The touchpad is rather small however, and not being a big fan of them anyway, I opted for a tiny USB mouse instead. The battery life is quite long, although it spends most of the time plugged into A/C current. I’m sure the 1 Gig of RAM would have been sufficient, but I added the 2 gig chip just because. Having traveled with a heavy 17″ laptop in the past, the NC-10 will be a joy to transport!

  2. JasonT. says:

    After exhaustive research on this site, youtube, and other sites, I decided on the Samsung NC10 in white. One essential piece of information is that the Acer Aspire One is only 2.3 lbs with the original 3-cell battery: any machine with a 6-cell is going to weigh just short of 3 lbs. The Vaio P series is the only comparable machine that’s significantly lighter, and everything I read suggested it wasn’t as nimble or capacious as any of these netbooks, and it’s nearly 4 times the price.

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