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...