Samsung NC10 netbook
The new mini-laptop champion
Review 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's NC10: not a bad looker
Perhaps the most distinctive thing about the NC10 is its keyboard. Samsung has managed to cram in impressively large-sized keys, so unlike some models it doesn't take that long to get up to a decent typing speed. It also has the feel of a proper laptop keyboard, rather than a slimmed down one, so if you need to do a lot of typing it's ideal.
That said, the space bar is a little on the small side, and the arrow keys have been slightly squeezed into the bottom right corner, but the main keys are all a good size and the layout is sensible so you shouldn't end up hunting too much for symbols.
The downside of the large keyboard, however, is that there's not much room left for the touchpad. It's very small - 60mm wide by just 30mm tall - which means if you need on-screen accuracy then you're better off using a mouse, although for just moving around Windows and documents it's fine. And - let's be honest - there are very few netbooks with good touchpads - it's a weakness they all share.
Another slightly usual feature of the keyboard is that it's covered with an antibacterial layer. Its coating of ionic silver particles will apparently prevent bacteria living and breeding on the keyboard, effectively eliminating 99.9 per cent of all know germs within 24 hours, according to Samsung. If you've actually managed to track back the source of an infection to a computer keyboard, then this will no doubt appeal, but we reckon it's a gimmick.
Germ-proof (almost) keyboard, anyone?
Like many machines of this size, Samsung has opted for a 10.2in LED backlit display with a netbook-standard resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. One thing that sets the NC10's screen apart from much of its more recent competition, however, is that it's non-glossy. If you find glossy displays too reflective, then you'll be happier with the screen on the NC10.
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.
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.
Anybody know if I can get some gizmo to enable me to run it off the cigarette lighter socket in a car?
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.
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...