Review: Samsung NC10 Netbook

Having been on my netbook all weekend I decided it was time for a more detailed review. Also took a few more photos and can talk about the accessories I bought for it. This is not a technical review with lots of benchmarking and that kind of thing. It’s just one user’s opinion.

Summary

A great, value for money little netbook which is fun to use. Sharp bright screen, decent keyboard, surprisingly good battery life, stylish looks, ‘OK’ sound and decent specs in all other respects. Highly recommended.

Pros

  • Very good value for money at £299 in the UK
  • Sturdy construction, good specs
  • Phenomenal battery life
  • Looks good
  • Great keyboard, perfectly easy to type on (said from someone who uses a Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 keyboard normally)

Cons

  • Trackpad is on the small side
  • Sound from on-board speakers is tinny (though via headphones is fine)
  • Right shift-key takes some getting used to due to size/location

Coke can included for scale

Screen

The 10″ screen is sharp and colourful and I’m perfectly pleased with it. Is very bright. I turned ClearType on pretty much straight away as that improves ALL screen text regardless of what machine you’re using. Am surprised Microsoft don’t enable that as standard. No dead pixels either. The resolution is 1024×600 and the graphics card (built in) supports multiple monitors, rotation of the screen, etc. For someone used to a 21″ Dell wide-screen with 1600x pixels wide, I thought this notebook would prove hard work but it hasn’t at all. The small screen is fine. I’ve also streamed media (BBC iPlayer) and picture clarity is sharp and decent.

Keyboard

Very good. Much better than I thought it would be. I believe it’s full size, too. The only key that takes getting used to is the right hand shift button. I touch-type (and thus don’t need to look at the keyboard as I type) and have had no problems. I also like how the keys feel when you type.

Trackpad

This is on the small side. I’ve never been a fan of trackpads, probably because I’ve never generally speaking been a fan of laptops. I found it fine to use. It’s not the fastest to get around but the same can be said for most trackpads. I’ve upgraded to a Microsoft Wireless Notebook USB 6000 cordless mouse anyway which negates any concerns I may have about ease of use of the trackpad.

Battery Life

It’s too new for me to have fully put this through its paces. I’ve read it can go 7 hours without recharging (including using the wireless). Of course the screen will be dimmer to conserve power but that’s fine. The default setting is almost too bright for me anyway.

WiFi

I’ve not had a laptop before so I can’t compare it with anything. I stream media all day long and have had no breaks in service. My wifi is next door but the walls are very thick (1930s apartment building). So that’s good. I’ve read in reviews I’d also looked at that the wifi was strong and good at not dropping which appears to be true.

Construction

I think it’s sturdily built. I don’t have much to compare it with. Feels solid. USB slots on both sides. Power input on left side (I could have done with it on the back as my new netbook case has rear vent) but that’s just a minor point. Hinges and whatnot feel fine. I have the black model and love it. That said, I’m sure I’d have been happy with the white version too.

Sound

The onboard speakers are somewhat tinny, there’s no getting away from that. Perfectly fine for playing digital radio through and also MP3s, but if you’re an audiophile you may be more demanding. That said, the headphone socket delivers good quality audio through headphones and I imagine would do through external speakers too.

Performance

Seems decent to me. Office 2003 runs no probs at all. I have masses of pages in Firefox all running fine. I have Avira antivirus running in the background and Comodo firewall too (both are free). It does not appear ‘sluggish’ at all.

I’m using Picasa 3 (which is free) to edit photos including RAW files from my Nikon D50 and they open and edit no problem at all. No noticeable performance slowdowns. Copying large files between folders and from my external hard drive is also very fast.

Misc

There is an SD slot for camera memory cards. This is ideal as both my Nikon D50 SLR uses SD as does my Casio point & shoot.

Accessories

I’ve bought a Microsoft Wireless Netbook 6000 USB mouse which is £20 down from £30 at PC World and Currys at the moment. Works fine and very accurate.

I’ve also bought a Swordfish netbook carry case (a little steep at £22) from PC World but fits the netbook perfect (it’s the 10″ model of the case).

Photos

Some photos on the slideshow below. Higher res images on my flickr page.

Share

39 thoughts on “Review: Samsung NC10 Netbook

Add yours

  1. The person sitting next to me on the sofa is having netbook envy after reading your post… We might have to get one when we’re in the UK, but you ordered it online right?

  2. “The onboard speakers are somewhat tinny, there’s no getting away from that.”

    Actually, there’s plenty of getting away from that, on virtually any other computer, of whatever size or price. The speakers on my eeepc 701 are tinny, but usable, in quiet environments. Calling the speakers on the nc10 “tinny” is to pay the machine an absurdly hyperbolic complement. They’re horrendous! Obviously, one is always better off with external speakers or headphones, even in laptops with quite good speakers, comparatively speaking, but the onboard sound on the nc10 is simply an insult. This has nothing to do with having “audiophile” standards — I don’t — but one has to be an aural masochist to even listen to undemanding, low quality speech recordings on these speakers — assuming one can even hear them — since the sound isn’t just bad, the worst thing is the volume output is very very low. Unless you have extremely good hearing, and watch in a silent environment, forget about following the dialog in a movie on hulu.com, for example, with the built-in speakers. (and yes, I have correctly set all volume mixers, etc)

    For podcasts etc, VLC can help substantially with the volume problem. (as long as you avoid any temptation to bump up the equalizer settings, either in VLC or in the Realtek control panel, which will distort the sound even more than it is already)

    Really, it was just stupid for Samsung to put “stereo” speakers on a unit this size. Pure marketing consideration – customers are apt to go “What, no stereo speakers!” even though the only way to actually hear “stereo” with speakers this close together would be if you parked the unit on your chest. A single, higher quality mono speaker would be a much better choice for these netbooks. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Otherwise, I like my NC10 a lot. The keyboard is so good, I think I’ll blame it for the obnoxiously long rant I’ve just inflicted on you!

  3. About the keyboard —
    I was puzzled that the reviewer found the right shift key less than ideal, until I realized that, of course, my US purchased unit has a different layout! From the picture, it looks like yours has 13 keys on the second row from the bottom. Here, there are only 12, and the right shift is good-sized, and a very easy reach when touch typing, no peeking required. Really, moving back and forth from a full-size keyboard to this one is no issue at all. After trying to cope with the bizarre placement and size of that key on the Asus eeepc machines, this is wonderful.

    Another great thing about the keyboard is the very clearly marked and useful Fn key commands, better than any laptop I’ve used. I would highly recommend this to anyone doing a lot of writing.

    The display is, mercifully, non-reflective, and very bright and crisp. The machine is still quite usable with the brightness turned way down.

    The tiny touchpad was tricky to get used to, but taking the time to adjust the plethora of Synaptics options in the control panel can improve things vastly.

    The only significant problem I’m having with the nc10 is getting used to the very unbalanced weight of it, due to the high-capacity battery and a rather heavy disply/lid. It can be tricky to balance in one’s lap (with the power cord and audio cable connected, especially so!)
    I would be very careful if using it on public transportation, since it wants to fall backwards at any opportunity. But this may not be an issue for most people; I think I’m just spoiled by my 2 lb eeepc.

  4. I was thinking of getting one as I am afraid that I will never get another 12″ Mac . I just shudder at the thought of slumming with Windows. Sigh…maybe i can run Linux on it. Thanks for the great review.

  5. Lula – Amazon.co.uk have it for £292. It’s a good machine. If sound quality is a priority then you might want a different machine, but in all other respects it’s great.

    BC – crikey, that’s what I call a comment (or two!). You are right re: sound. It’s the netbook’s weakness but not enough of a dealbreaker for me to be unhappy. These machines are very much for people ‘on the go’ and if you’re on a train, plane, Starbucks, etc, you’ll be using headphones and the sound is fine from those.

    Vern – I don’t see why you couldn’t load Linux onto it. It ships with XP.

    Fred – hard to describe, probaby smaller than a standard brick and not that heavy. Mine has UK 3 pin plug on it.

  6. Glad you are enjoying the new netbook (I’m back btw, having finally started catching up with my google reader). I need a new laptop (the battery on mine is now at a max life of about 50 minutes) but circumstances being what they are, it will have to wait. Once we both get permanent jobs, James has promised me a new top-of-the-range MacBook Pro. He is buying a new bike. I shall just have to find some way of integrating my work-out into my blogging. Oh, I kill me.

  7. Sven – nice boyfriend you have to treat you to a top of the range macbook!!! You deserve it though, it’s been a stressful time leaving the UK and moving to Oz.

    Is weird getting used to you not being on UK timezone anymore… we’re missing you!

  8. Nice review, thanks for that.

    Just two things: Where did you buy the Samsung and where did you get the nice looking case from?

    cheers
    flo

  9. Thanks for the pictures. German community is keen on getting the black one to the stores.

    Important question: Does it have bluetooth on board??

    Greetings from Germany

  10. Linux works fine on this with a ‘little’ tweaking, the downside is that your battery will last longer in Windows XP. : (
    (sad because it isn’t as good in Linux, not because it is good in XP)

    SignorRossi.

  11. It has bluetooth.

    SignorRossi — what distro did you put on it? Did you use the second partition it came with, for a dual boot, or repartion from scratch? Any problems with wireless?

    I’d like to put Archlinux on mine, or maybe plain Debian; not too concerned about the battery life, as I mostly use a plain console when running Linux. But the fact is, XP is not bad at all on this thing. I’m torn. I’ve never had any luck configuring external displays with Linux (mainly my ineptitude, probably), and the nc10 with XP outputs very nicely to my (pretty crappy) 22″ Acer.

  12. I just have the black US version (The Netherlands bought from Modern.nl) of the Sammy NC10 its great as said in all reviews. It only has a very small trackpad and it’s a shame the speakers on the bottom sound very bad. And 3G is missing but that’s with allmost all netbooks right now.

    I only had some minor problems yesterday;

    # just after startup from Windows it’s didn’t respond to any key or the trackpad. Then I push the power button long enough to shut down. After a new startup the problem what luckely gone.

    # Yesterday when I was running it for quite some hours the display suddently went almost black and it didn’t respond to any key. After a restart all was fine again.

    I hope this things won’t come up again. Otherwise I will need to return it and get another one. I like it so much but these two things weren’t nice to happen.

  13. Jez – thanks for the feedback. Nice site you have going, too!

    Robin – sounds unusual. Touch wood I’ve had no problems. Hope you get it sorted.

  14. Just a note to say thanks from the US for a great review.

    I just won one on a swoopo.com auction night before last… for total of 185USD… am very excited to get it now!

    Should have it next week… thanks also for identifying the antivirus, firewall and photo editing software, as well as the ClearType mention… which I had not heard about.

    I will be visiting London and Paris and mid-December which is the main reason I bought the NC10.

    thx again!

  15. one other thing… I would actually prefer a blue one over a black one, but have not heard of anyone with a blue one yet.

    Have they not been released?

    thx.

  16. Caril – thanks! To my knowledge the blue hasn’t come out yet. I’m still enjoying my NC10, haven’t used my desktop since buying it! 😛 Enjoy London and Paris!

  17. The talk of a perfect keyboard is generous.

    In the UK it appears to be about the only keyboard which has moved the pipe \ button from left to right and put the wide shift key on the left.

    Personally, I find it a real fiddle, filling my typing with unwanted \s instead of capitalising characters.

    The MSI Wind doesn’t do this and almost swayed me to that netbook, but in the end the NC10’s sharper screen (when I looked at the two side by side in PCWorld) swayed me in favour of the NC10 and I’m generally happy with it.

    M

  18. Mark – yeh, the keyboard is v.good other than that one key. You can get used to it, mind. Trickier for me as I have a Dell laptop which is my main work machine and for the last 10 years I’ve had a desktop at work. Didn’t think I’d get used to a laptop but I have done.

    The NC10 isn’t perfect but it’s nifty, fast, good screen, great battery, good wifi so it’s all good enough for me. The sound isn’t great but my work Dell isn’t too dissimilar on that front.

  19. Jez – I can’t believe the price has gone UP on these things. That’s insane. Prices are meant to have come down with the VAT cut, not up… Glad I bought mine when I did.

  20. Hey Milo, I was considering getting the swordfish jacket you have there, but would like to hear your opinion on putting it into a regular backpack with textbooks. Just how protective is this thing?

  21. Ian – I think it’s fairly sturdy without any extra layers. The sleeve it comes with doesn’t really do much and doesn’t offer much in the way of padding. However, I really like the swordfish case (I leave the netbook permanently in it as it has elastic on all 4 corners to hook around each corner of the netbook) so I have no regrets at all about buying it. And it has little carry handles. The fact that it ‘stays on’ all the time makes it incredibly handy to my mind. I think for £20 you’re better off just buying the swordfish jacket (if you can find it where you are).

  22. Thanks Milo! I totally agree about the Samsung sleeve packaged with the NC10, about the only protection it offers is from fingerprints. I noticed the elastic straps in your pictures, those do come in handy. I can find most of the swordfish products online from various retailers, and if nothing else I have good friends in the UK who have picked up and shipped items for me before. The issue I’m wondering about is the padding for protection in my book bag… with a distinct lack of hard yet compact cases for netbooks at this point, I’ve been trying to narrow it down to one that I can feel comfortable using with my textbooks until the netbook case options expand. How would you rate the jacket for such a task? From the pictures I couldn’t tell, but is it just a single layer of neoprene? Thanks again!

  23. Ian – I would say it’s thick enough to give enough padding for a book bag, yes. The padding is really quite thick between thumb and forefinger primarily on the front side. I don’t know if it’s a single layer of neoprene but it feels like something spongy between the lining. The bottom half of the case is not as thick (probably because the whole point is you can open and use the netbook while still in its jacket and it would not sit well with masses of padding in the bottom side).

    It feels sturdier and more protective than most of the other sleeves or jackets I saw in PC World.

  24. Much appreciated! I’ve looked into about 20+ bags so far and have it narrowed down to 3 or so that I’m actually interested in trying out… time to get out the credit card. I have had little luck finding them locally, so I just have to buy them online and hope for the best (plus a good return policy!)

  25. Netzwerk – quite a lot of new models have come out since this one. I still use mine for travelling but use a regular 15.6″ HP laptop for day to day stuff now. Couldn’t give my NC10 away though as I like it too much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: