The icons on the upper deck of the NC10 and N120 that tell you what all those side ports are for have mercifully been removed – not only were they wholly pointless, they made the keyboard surround look an utter mess.
As with so many SD card slots, the protrusion factor when loaded is a vulnerability
Up front on the left you will find the usual Samsung row of seven status LEDs while a SD/SDHC/MMC card reader lurks on the right hand side. While the cards don't stick out to the ridiculous extent as they do on Dell's Mini netbooks, they still protrude too far to be left in place without fear of damage. Fortunately, the N110 continues Samsung's tradition of allowing easy access to the memory slot should you wish to upgrade the Ram.
Inside, the important bits are the current Samsung netbook norm. So you get an Atom N270 1.6GHz processor along with Intel's 945GSE chipset, 1GB Ram and a 160GB HDD. Connectivity is courtesy of 812.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. The OS – if you need to ask – takes the form of the venerable Windows XP.
While the 84 button keyboard is identical to the NC10's – complete with antibacterial protection that can apparently compete with Domestos in the germ genocide stakes – the touchpad is a little larger at 60 x 35mm. The keyboard was always an NC10 strong point and while it feels a good deal smaller than the N120's 'full size' affair, it is still a joy to use and one of the best on any 10in netbook.
The NC10's sound system has also been given the once over with the two 1W speakers replaced by 1.5W units. It’s hardly enough to give you a Maxell moment, but the increased output will be welcome if you intend to watch a lot of videos without headphones.
Among the best keyboards we've tried on a 10.1in netbook
The N110's screen is typical netbook at 10.1in corner-to-corner, with a 1024 x 600 resolution. However, unlike the matte effect screen finish on the NC10, the N110 has a glossy affair. Better for watching video in low light, less helpful in bright conditions where reflections can become an issue. With the N120 being punted as a multi-media machine we are not quite sure why Samsung didn't stick a matte screen on the N110. Perhaps the NC10's screen just wasn't that big a hit with the punters.
I recommend another netbook keyboard
I recently got a MSI Wind U100+ , the keyboard touch is better than most laptops I've had a go on!! it is very firm, feels like I'm typing on a Thinkpad (only difference is the much smaller keys of course). If you are looking for a netbook with a nice keyboard, take a look at this one too.
Re Albert and Jerome0
I'm agree with you - there's no way that a netbook should be £350 as that's putting it firmly into cheap laptop territory.
Besides, if you got an netbook for about £190, then it's only about £70 to add a high capacity battery. So that's £90 less for something comparable, but with a 1" smaller screen (big deal!). Heck even if I go for a fancy 10" version the difference is still about £50 - so that Samsung is over-priced imho!
Re: Jerome0 - I too bought an AAO, (but mine cost more than £200 - darn it!), and if the battery life is the main drawback then I'd seriously recommend the 6cell battery. Okay it's another £70 and it does stick out so much that using the supplied sleeve case is impossible, on the other hand it raises the machine up nicely for typing; isn't that much extra weight; and I get about four hours from a full battery in normal Ubuntu use (and the supplied 3cell makes a nice spare).
Hopefully the manufacturers will over estimate the number of netbooks being bought for Christmas and hence there'll be some reasonably priced units in the New Year sales.
Bog standard features? Check!
Crappy intel chipset? Check!
Less than adequate screen resolution? Check!
Microsoft Tax? Check!
3G modem non existent? Check!
Stupidly overblown price? Check!
Yep, it's a 2009 netbook alright.
Microsoft and intel can go and get stuffed.
I can't wait for the ARMbooks to arrive.
Don't throw stones until you've used it
Unlike some of the other posters here who complain about the glossy screen and the cost of this unit, I would like to offer a perspective from someone who actually owns and uses one.
I purchased mine from Provantage for US$378 (£233 with current exchange rates) and couldn't be happier with it. I do not have problems with glare, and have used it indoors and outside, in bright light and dim. The battery life is great, and after a full day I still have plenty of charge left.
I have other laptops that I use for heavy computing. My primary use for this unit is for VPN'ing into my office and using RDP for remote maintenance my servers, with email and research being a secondary use. Small and cheap enough that I can leave it in the map pouch in the seat of my truck without worrying about it, and powerful enough to get the job done.
The keyboard on this unit was a huge selling point for me. You don't realize how hard it is to find a netbook with a real keyboard, that puts keys like the / and the ? in the right place, until you actually start looking. The 6 to 8+ hours of battery life that I get out of it is great, and that is with brightness turned up and running a vpn over the wifi. I spent $20 on a car adapter for it, but I've never had the need to use it, even when sitting in the truck tethered to my phone via bluetooth to get out to the internet.
I'm not a big fan of ANY glidepads, so I also toss a small bluetooth mouse in the bag that I dig out if I'm using it for more than a few minutes. I also upgraded the ram (US$32 for 2 gig, there is only one sodimm slot) because (1) is IS running windows and (2) for $32, why not?
Quite honestly, now that I have it I would even admit that I would have even paid more for it.
At first I was planning on upgrading the HD to an SSD, but now that I have it, I've found the HD to be robust enough. If it fails... well, then I'll get the SSD.
Re: What would move the form factor forward
"Netbooks need higher screen resolution. 1024x600 is serviceable but higher rez screens as standard for the platform would be very nice. I've read that Intel and/or M$ pressure the netbook makers to not exceed 1024x600 - is this true?"
More than likely.
Component cost is a factor too - you can get 10" displays with higher resolutions but they're still quite expensive compared to the more bog-standard 1024x600/768/whatever displays. For me, 1024x768 on a 10" screen is ideal, 1024x600 is a minor pain although since my netbook isn't my 'main' machine I can live with it for occasional use.