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Samsung NC10 review: Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
4 min read

With Samsung's recent entry into the U.S. market, it certainly makes sense for the company to include an example of the hottest thing in laptops right now--the humble Netbook. As evidenced by other recent big-name entrants such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, and Lenovo, it seems that no PC maker's lineup is complete without one of these small, low-price systems.


Samsung NC10

The Good

Excellent battery life; decent, nearly full-size keyboard.

The Bad

Bland design with no outstanding extras; too-small touchpad.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung NC10 is a completely average Netbook in every way, but we like its keyboard and love its long-running battery.

The Samsung Netbook, called the NC10, is a $499 10-inch system, which could easily be mistaken for a Lenovo S10 or MSI Wind from across the room. Its most notable feature is that it has no notable features. It's a completely average Netbook in every way, lacking unique extras such as the Lenovo Ideapad S10's ExpressCard slot or the HP Mini 1000's big keyboard.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. And we like the excellent battery life, second only to Asus' Netbooks. So, if extra-long battery life is more important to you than HP's big keyboard (although the NC10's keyboard isn't bad either), Lenovo's expansion slot, or Dell's customization options (no SDD or Linux options here, for example), then you'll be pleased that Samsung finally decided to sell its wares stateside.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $499
Processor 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
Memory 1GB, 533MHz DDR2
Hard drive 160GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel 945GM Express
Graphics Intel GMA 950 (integrated)
Operating system Windows XP Home Edition SP2
Dimensions (WD) 10.3 x 7.3 inches
Height 1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 10.2 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.9/3.6 pounds
Category Netbook

Clearly from the Netbook 101 design school, the Samsung NC10 has the similar look and feel to Netbooks from Asus, Acer, and others. The rounded hinge and slightly curved lid make for a softer silhouette than Lenovo's squared-off S10, but the physical differences are still minor. The NC10 is a fixed-configuration system; your only customization option is choosing either a white or a blue chassis.

Next to HP's Mini 1000, the Samsung NC10 has the best Netbook keyboard we've seen. The slightly tapered keys (which Samsung claims are 93 percent as big as a full-size keyboard) are easy to use, and no important keys have been shuffled around to inconvenient places (although the Tab key is half-size). The touchpad, on the other hand, is hard to use. It's long but very narrow (only a little more than 1-inch high), which makes scrolling vertically through long Web pages or documents cumbersome.

The 10.2-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,024x600 native resolution, which is standard for a Netbook. On a 10-inch screen, that makes for a fairly usable experience, and one we think is worth making the leap from a 9-inch Netbook.

  Samsung NC10 Average for category [netbook]
Video VGA-out VGA-out
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

With Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, specifically designed for low-power Netbooks, you get enough computing power for the basic tasks--Web surfing, working on documents, and some basic multimedia playback. That combo of Intel's Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP is found in every Netbook we've seen recently, so it's not surprising that we saw no real performance difference between the NC10, Dell's Mini 9, HP's Mini 1000, and others. Any of these are fine for basic on-the-go computing, as long as you keep your expectations modest.

The Samsung NC10 ran for 4 hours and 41 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's much better than any other Netbook we've seen, with the exception of the Asus Eee PC 901 and 1000, which also have chunky six-cell batteries. The trade-off is that the big battery adds bulk and weight beyond the slim Netbooks from HP and Lenovo.

Samsung includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads. Perhaps because Samsung's U.S. offerings are new, the support Web site is similarly fresh, with sections logically laid out and easy to navigate.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Samsung NC10
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 160GB Hitachi 5400rpm

HP Mini 1000
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945GM; 60GB Toshiba 4200rpm

Asus Eee PC 901
Windows XP Home Edition SP2; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 12GB Phison Solid State Drive

Lenovo Ideapad S10
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 160GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Dell Inspiron Mini 9
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; STEC 16GB SSD


Samsung NC10

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Battery 9Support 6