Samsung NC10 review

£253
Price when reviewed

At first glance, you’d be easily forgiven for thinking the Samsung NC10 is a full-blown, stylish ultraportable, not a netbook. All that gives it away is the Intel Atom badge on the bottom-right of the keyboard, with the design, finish and attention to detail reminiscent of far more expensive machines.

Samsung NC10 review

For example, the keyboard is very nearly full-width with a double-height Enter key and separated cursor keys. Like the Eee PCs, the right-Shift key is bizarrely placed, but its size means it’s easier to adjust your typing style. Ideally, the trackpad would have been larger, but we like the built-in scrolling function.

UPDATE: Read the full review of the Samsung NC20 here

Samsung also goes to the effort of labelling the ports. And, just to rub salt into the other netbooks’ wounds, there’s the luxury of seven notification LEDs.

The build quality is commendable, too. While constructed from plastic, the chassis doesn’t flex and creak every time you lean on it, and the lid – although not up to the rock-solid construction of, say, the HP – offers enough protection for us not to worry about slinging it into a backpack.

It won’t weigh you down either, at 1.31kg, and the fact it’s heavier than some is a reflection of its large 5,200mAh battery. This kept the Samsung alive for 7hrs 26mins in our light-use test – a phenomenal result. With a 1.6GHz Atom processor and 1GB of RAM, it scored an excellent 0.44 in our benchmarks.

There are signs of the limited budget, but each sacrifice comes with a rider. Samsung doesn’t find room for draft-n wireless, just 802.11bg (but there is Bluetooth). The memory card reader only supports SD and MMC (but you do get a 160GB hard disk). There’s a 1yr return-to-base warranty (but it’s international).

Likewise, you can tell it isn’t a top-grade panel due to very slight grain, but its brightness and vibrancy are beyond rebuke. For general web browsing, it’s a pleasure to use.

And that phrase sums up the NC10 as a whole. When paying £253 exc VAT for a laptop, you’ve no right to expect a machine of this quality with all these features. If it had a 3G modem inside it would reach netbook Nirvana, but even as things stand it’s the best sub-£300 netbook you can buy.

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