back to article Samsung NC10 netbook

The NC10 is Samsung's take on the Small, Cheap Computer but unlike many 'me too' netbook competitors, the South Korean giant has clearly put a bit of thought into differentiating its offering from the other Eee-alternatives out there. Samsung NC10 Samsung's NC10: not a bad looker Perhaps the most distinctive thing about the …

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Happy

I hope it's that good

Glad to see the "official" good review - this machine first caught my interest before Christmas when so many of you commentards (no offence, think of it like "communards" eh?) were singing its praises under all the other netbook review articles of the time. As a result I hunted down a few sites that had reviewed it, and all seemed very positive: "taking all the best bits of those that came before" was the common meme.

Come Christmas shopping time, and I'd decided my mum, retirement looming, was due a "prestige" present and one of these there SCCs seemed a perfect marriage of oomph and cheapness (hey! still got other women to buy stuff for, y'know). So off I trek to Ye Olde PC Worlde for some hands-on reviewing of my own.

Though not every known netbook was on display, all the usual suspects were: AA1, couple of Eees (no ten-incher, sadly), couple of Advents (=MSI Winds), the wee Dell, and the NC10 in black.

It quickly became a 2-horse race between the 10" Advent and the Samsung: anything smaller would have felt a bit embarrassing to give my mum as "your new laptop", and she already needs reading-glasses. The keyboards are seriously too damn small for someone used to a desktop, too. Also I felt now wasn't the time to foist a Linux gizmo on her; apart from anything else I haven't liked what little I've seen of the custom distros they put on these things (when I get her into Linux, it's gonna be Gentoo FTW).

In the end, two things swung it: (a) the build quality; the NC10 just felt solid when I was dancing over its keyboard, and the finishing touches just felt and looked more workmanlike and buffed, really like a mini-laptop should; and (b) the chorus of approval I'd heard online.

I should add I had to fight for my chance to peruse it, as it was easily getting the most attention from the other shoppers milling around. So PC World didn't get to flog me their in-house brand - well, they didn't get to flog me an NC10 either as it turned out they'd run out, but kindly managed to locate one in a nearby Dixons ;)

After the presentation, I spent more than half of Boxing Day doing OS/software setup on it (bloody XP - endless reboots - certainly wishing for Linux during that operation) and the battery life fully lived up to the hype, 7 hours at least. The Atom's performance seemed on a par with my old 2.6GHz Celeron (the DDR2 probably helps there though), and there was very little noise throughout long periods of intensive I/O.

I'll say this about the lovely 160GB HD: note that Samsung have split it in half so you can keep your OS restore image(s) on the other partitiion. I think if I get one of these myself, a first order of business will be to change this partitioning scheme.

And I really am considering it: Although I like the idea of my beefy laptop, I can honestly say I probably don't need it. OK, NetBeans might struggle a bit on it, but I could live with a more lowly coding-tool for the sake of having a truly portable machine that didn't cripple my spine. Games? If it can run my Spectrum and Amiga emulators, I'm happy. Movies? Hey, I sat through a whole movie on my *phone* the other day. And as for an optical drive, it made me realise that I haven't even used mine in probably over a year. Thumbdrives FTW!

I don't think my mum's actually used it much yet (waiting for the intertubes to get plumbed-in) but I can't wait to visit again and use it some more myself. I'm too poor at the moment (Christmas largely to blame, funnily enough) to quite justify buying one for myself, but god DAMN it I'm tempted. She would do well to frisk me when I leave...

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MS office

Just fine. I've run pivots with about six or seven calculated fields without much bother. Beyond 20,000 rows in the raw data and it took a while to reprocess if you shift fields round, but no so much as you'd get frustrated or abandon the job. I was very surprised by the speed at which it handled it as I was expecting it to chug. I haven't tried it with Access using any more than basic queries, or pivoting from Excel using ODBC into Access data, but doubt it would struggle TOO much if the datasets were within about 50,000 rows.

Word, a doddle. Word, Excel and media player all going at the same time, fine with little to no slow down. itunes does hog ALL the system resources, but then it does that on higher end machines, but it has a noticable effect on the NC10 so beware if you rely on it as your main media player and want to use the machine for anything other than browsing or Word at the same time. That's where the 2gb memory upgrade would probably pay dividends.

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Avi

No room for a decent touchpad?

So stick a nipple on it, then.

I can't be the only person left who prefers them, can I? Especially on something so diddy.

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Boffin

To those people who own one of these....

....i'd appreciate it if you can test something for me, or confirm it works.

Can you play a 720p .mkv file, with 5.1DD, from a USB HD (or off the drive, at a pinch), through this onto a 720p TV panel via the VGA port?

If it plays perfectly, i'm sold, if the Atom still doesn't have enough grunt, i'll have to stick with my noise-tower till these become a handy replacement.

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@Mark Aggleton

Yeah, Linux viruses exist, but let's be honest, there are so few of them you can make a single page list of them, and any fully patched modern Linux system is probably immune to most of them anyway.

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W

To those people who own one of these.... (pt 2)

Does it come with an XP CD? Or just a partition with a backup?

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Confirmed

I've owned an NC10 since early December. Only three complaints, all livable. The first is the touchpad/clickers. Agreed, the pad is too small. I don't agree it could not have been made (even a little) bigger. Seems there could be another 10-20% they could've squeaked out. The left and right clickers should also have been designed as separate pieces. This issue, however, is solved with a wireless mouse; and the mini-dongled Logitech I bought is about perfect.

The second issue is build quality. It's really not bad at all, but, with a couple of very small changes, the NC10 would come off much better. The outside surface of the lid/screen could be tied down a bit better near the hinge side. It flexes when you pick it up leaving a less-than-solid impression. Mold another attach point, or two, and that's done. The next is the execution of the chrome around the side. Upon closer inspection, it looks cheap. It's more fit, than finish.

And, lastly, the edge where you place your wrists (while gleefully touch-typing) could be more rounded for a more modern look, as well as better comfort.

The NC10 is so good otherwise, these things actually rise to the level of an issue. Great battery life, great keyboard, excellent storage, speedy enough (specially with 2GB) and very accommodating to a lifestyle of mobility and travel. No regrets after over two months of daily use.

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Happy

Touchpad

I've got myself one of those shortly after they became available in the UK and I've been dead chuffed. Battery life nothing short of amazing, screen is brilliant, keyboard is fantastic, and it's got enough oomph to play back full screen video.

I'd be happy to do web dev work on this machine for extended periods. In short, it's nothing short of amazing, especially for the price.

As for the trackpad (it's a Synaptic one) - yes it's small, but that's not a problem: switch it to "Trackball mode", and out of the sudden size doesn't matter anymore. Besides, why didn't the review mention that it supports multitouch gestures - I would have thought that it's an important feature... You can, for example, zoom web pages in Firefox and IE7 using the familiar "Mac-style" pinch gestures, and scroll using a circular gesture. I wish my full-blown laptop supported these...

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Happy

Power

Anybody know if I can get some gizmo to enable me to run it off the cigarette lighter socket in a car?

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RTFM!

I thought everyone used it with trackball mode? I guess some people just can't read manuals. I've used the multi-touch a few times, only downside is i'm clearly don't have the dexterity to zoom in/out smoothly.

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Good but some small problems

I have one and like it, although I was never intending to use it just as a 'netbook'. I installed Office 2007 on it (via a USB stick), and it works okay. But editing large documents is a hassle with its slow processor, small screen, annoying touchpad and also because you have to use the Function key to get 'Home' or 'End', buttons I use a lot. I can think of better compromises they could have made with the keyboard (e.g. personally I rarely use the function keys) but I guess that's a matter of personal preference.

There's one other compromise they've made - the sound is terrible, whether you use the built-in or external speakers or headphones. Shame because it could double up as a great little music and video player.

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