Hands-On With Samsung’s NC10 Netbook

Since September we have been envious of the other countries of the world, not only because their dollar isn’t as weak as ours, but because they were due to get the nice looking, big keyboard-sporting Samsung NC10 netbook. Ah, but our jealousy ends today. Samsung today announced that it will sell its 10-inch netbook in the U.S. for $499. Though a bit pricier than comparable systems like the Lenovo S10 or the MSI Wind U110, the Samsung netbook comes standard with 1GB of RAM, 1.3-MP Webcam, a whopping 120GB hard drive, and a 6-cell battery. The NC10 will come in both white and navy blue and will run the popular Intel Atom processor and Windows XP operating system. We also spoke to Samsung executive Dave McFarland who said we may see a NC10 with mobile broadband options and a Linux OS eventually. We had a chance to put our hands all over the NC10 a few weeks ago. As you will see in the video below, the netbook sports a seriously spacious keyboard (93 percent the size of a regular keyboard, Samsung says), which we think can rival the MSI WInd’s title of best netbook keyboard yet. As for the overall fit and finish, we were happy with what we saw and felt. Samsung knows how to make a good piece of electronics and now a good netbook. As for performance, in the few minutes we had with the device, it provided the usual Atom and Windows XP responses. We plan to benchmark and run the usual battery and hard drive tests when we get it in our offices. We tried not to cry when Samsung took our NC10 away but we did manage to capture some video and stills of the sweet 10-inch netbook. Our review unit should be arriving any day now so let us know in the comments what you want to know most about little Sammy. [flv:/flvs/samsung-nc10-handson.flv 480 360]

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  1. Matt Says:

    You know what annoys the crap out of me? Indicator lights that CONSTANTLY flash/blink. I don’t understand why laptop manufacturers have such a hard on for stuff that flashes. I really liked the Lenovo s10 and then I watched a few video reviews of it and was disgusted that it had several lights that flashed like a damn Christmas tree. It might seem trivial, but that cost them my sale. What is wrong with just a plain old solid indicator light? Seriously, stop trying to make me epileptic.

    I also really like the MSI Wind. They refused to make it widely available in plain old white (no heart designs please) and then when they eventually did, they nixed the Synaptics touchpad for some cheap piece of junk. Netbooks are still a young category and no one has gotten it right quite yet, but that was to be expected. Maybe that will be different with the Sammy NC10… I hope.

    So, no flashing indicator lights and a Synaptics touchpad, please tell me Samsung got these two things right. Thanks

  2. Fabien Says:

    Hi,

    The things i would like to know:
    - battery life (vs Lenovo) and energy manager soft
    - screen quality vs lenovo screen
    - WIFI performance (sensitivity and transfer rates)
    - is there a windows XP CD with the NC10?
    - upgrade possibility (easy or not) and HDD model
    - boot time
    - Noisy or not? Cooling system and t°?
    - Sounds good?
    - is it the same touchpad as the S10?
    - size ?

    thank you in advance
    Best regards from France

    Fabien

  3. Sascha Says:

    aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh i am getting jealous Joanna.
    Mine is coming next week, hopefully :)

  4. Electric Vagabond Says:

    Lucky b@stards getting your hands on this machine pre-release. Looks great! I even blooged on my Netbook news site. Keep up the good work guys definitely an industry benchmark!

  5. elipsoid Says:

    Thanks for the preview. I’ll second what Fabien said, I am esp. interested in the fan noise, touchpad quality and battery life. I hope you’ll manage to take a look at all of those aspects. Thank you!

  6. Robin Says:

    I am also curious to see read/see most of the things Fabien is mentioning.
    Mainly how long the battery life is in reality probably also 5 hours same as the Asus 1000H instead of the 8 hours they promise?

  7. SliderBOR Says:

    In addition to the other mentioned questions I´m very interested in the display quality and brightness, so it would be lovely if you could give some impressions about that. =)

  8. Axel Says:

    The screen is not back lit? All other sources I found on the net say it is!

  9. Markus Says:

    The screen would also be my top interest. Is it really not LED back lit? If so, what should we expect in comparison to the Wind?

  10. Pam T. Says:

    My needs are simple: I want to know how well the speakers stack up against the HP 2133 Mini’s. After being spoiled by the HP’s awesome sound, I won’t settle for anything less.

  11. phlyingpenguin Says:

    Like some of the others, I’m curious about what you’re saying on some of these specs. Everything I’ve read has said the screen is LED lit. In fact, the Akihabara News article calls it “SuperBright© Non-Gloss LED” Also, your text and video disagree on the HDD size, though I’m understanding it’s as low as 80GB and as high as 160GB. I suppose I’ll be staying tuned for the full review.

  12. Robin Says:

    I would like to see if it has a sim-card slot and if it’s working? I’ve read that it should be there just behind the battery pack..

    All the website I see in UK,NL,DE only show 160GB, 6 cell your hands on description and the other review from a East European country showed a 3cell with 80GB.

  13. anon Says:

    There is such thing as back lighting without LEDs you know…

  14. Glenn Says:

    Jeez, I want to know everything.

    Like others I’m interested in the expandability of the thing.
    - Where’s the memory, and can you expand it to 2GB easily?
    - Where’s the hard disk, and can you replace it easily? I assume its a 1.8″ SATA 5400 rpm drive?
    - Where’s the wireless card, and can you replace it easily? Looks like its an Atheros device. I’m assuming it doesn’t have 802.11n support. So say you want to replace it with a card that does, presumably by dropping in a new PCIe card. Can you?
    - And if there’s WWAN support in the future, how is it going to be added? In particular if there’s a spare PCIe connector accessible someplace, and maybe even a built-in antenna connection to tap into?

    It looks like the touchpad IS a Synaptics device from the help files in the downloads area. And it looks like it DOES have some multi-touch gesture supporting, including pinching, two finger scrolling, three finger gestures etc. Sounds good. What was your experience with it? Was the area bigger/smaller than other netbooks? How was the responsiveness? Did you try the multi-touch gestures? How did they work? What about the button/buttons below the trackpad–any issues like how hard they are to push, or their flushness with the surface of the device?

    How is the sound? If you wanted to watch a movie with two people using only the speakers, could you and still follow the dialog in a movie? Or stream music into a hotel room and hear it clearly?

    Any heat issues? The Lenovo is getting dinged for being too hot, esp. around the trackpad area, how’s the NC10?

    Are you sure its as light as they claim with a hard disk and a 6-cell battery?

    Are you sure the display isn’t LED backlit?

    How’s the Wifi performance? Any different than any other netbook? Mostly interested in distance at >= 1Mbps, e.g. internet performance. Don’t really care if it does 15Mbps 5 feet from the router…

    How glossy is the display? Looks like it has an antiglare treatment. How’s it look outside in daylight on a bright day? How about a Starbucks?

    How big is the power supply? Hopefully really small but…

    Does it come with a case? What’s that like?

    How’s the boot time? Any different from any other disk based netbook with XP Home?

    Is there a lot of crapware installed on the thing?

  15. vlado Says:

    I want OLED display

  16. Daniel Says:

    Just one more question additional to the ones above:
    -is there a release date for the black colored one yet?

  17. Anon Says:

    What, no SD or multi-card reader slot? I’ve gotten spoiled by the two slots on my Acer Aspire One. I generally leave a 2GB card in the dedicated SD slot and regularly back up my working data files using Syncback to a Truecrypt container on it. It give me a great deal of peace of mind about my data when I’m out and about.

    Of course, the battery life absolutely sucks on the AAO and I hate the glossy finish (fingerprints).

  18. JJ-s Says:

    As far as I know it does have a LED screen and it does have a 3-in-1 multi-memory card reader.
    This netbook looks great and Samsung did a very good job making the keyboard as large as possible. It has two large shift-keys and there isn’t any extra space around the keyboard either. The power button has been placed on the side of the device to make extra room. It will be sold in the U.S. too with a 160 GB HDD. This might be serious competition for the Asus Eee PC, though little Sammy is a little bit more expensive. It’s already available for pre orders:

    http://www.netbookusers.com/smf/index.php?topic=78.0

  19. brad Says:

    OK, I AM READY TO BUY A NEW COMPUTER. JUST SOLD MY PANISONIC R3. I WANT TO GET INTO THE APPLE LINE, BUT THEY ARE JUST TOO HEAVY TO JUSTIFY FOR TRAVEL (UNLESS SOMEONE GAVE ME THE AIR). SHOULD I BUY A NETBOOK NOW OR WAIT UNTIL WINDOWS 7 COMES OUT ?? IF I BOUGHT ONE NOW, DO I BUY AN INEXPENSIVE ONE OR THE SAMSUNG NC10 ? WOULD YOU ALL WAIT UNTIL THANKSGIVING ??

  20. Kristallregen Says:

    The User Manual you can download from the US Samsung Page says it has a keyboard shortcut to turn the Background Light on (FN + F5). And the Touchpad seems to be a multitouch because they describe a zoom function with two fingers like the one on the iPhone.

  21. Glenn Says:

    Brad,

    I would wait until new netbooks are released with the Poulsbo support chip since those should have better battery life as well as better video/graphics performance. Although you might want to wait until they’ve been around for a while and a second generation of drivers comes out since jkkmobile says the current generation doesn’t really save any power and you should wait for updated drives. Also, you might want to wait for Microsoft to release new disk drivers that are better optimized for flash since many netbook makers say this would result in much better battery life if Windows optimized its write patterns for flash. And of course you might want to wait until the next generation of flash drives comes out since jkkmobile has been hinting that they’ll be much faster. And you really don’t want an MLC based drive when an SLC would be much faster, and if you wait a while presumably the price differential will fall. Also the current netbooks have very small flash drives, and you might really want to wait for bigger ones to come out at lower prices. And you might want to wait until it becomes obvious who the winners and losers in this market will be so you will find all the accessories and upgrades you want. You don’t really want to pick a loser now do you?

    I figure all of this should shake out in a year or two. Then it should be obvious what to get.

  22. Neo Says:

    These are “netbooks”!!! $500 isn’t chump change, but there is absolutely no need to wait a year or two to figure out which netbook to get–for a half to third of the price of a typical notebook, you get something small, light, and perfectly functional.

    Someone asked about memory — 1GB comes preinstalled and it is upgradable to 2GB, but there is only ONE memory slot, so you have to ditch the preinstalled 1 GB and replace it.

  23. Omer Says:

    Is there also a HSDPA modem in the samsung?

  24. JohnR Says:

    I’d like to see a chart showing the top Netbooks Asus 1000h, Lenovo S10, MSI Wind U110, Acer Aspire One, Dell Mini9 and samsung nc10 in a side by side comparison. This chart would identify type of LCD back lighting, battery life, battery cell size, processor model, usb port quantity,resolution for screen, dimensions for keyboard, trackpad and netbook footprint, actual weight as a stand alone and weight together with the AC adapter, trackpad manufacturer, wired nic speed, network radio, if it offers bluetooth, webcam MP size, hard drive options, memory card reader, size of shipping memory and maximum memory, shipping OS, suggested retail prices.

    I’m sure this would help most of us determine how this Samsung model compares to the units out there today.

  25. KenB Says:

    Omer: There is a slot for a SIM card behind the battery pack. Whether or not the first model includes an integrated HSDPA modem is unknown. It may be something that shows up in the second wave if this one does well. Or it may be part of the base chipset. I hope it is.

    Every Samsung spec sheet says it has an LED backlight for the display. Given the claimed battery life, and that Samsung actually MAKES the LCD screens used in Acer, MSI and ASUS netbooks, I’d be astonished if it were still CCFL.

    There is a Korean language spec sheet that shows how to get at the RAM (two screws, pull out old SIMM, insert new one). The chipset it uses can only handle 2 GB of RAM. The pictures do not make it clear whether or not you can get at the hard drive as easily.

  26. David Meehan Says:

    I was considering this netbook before I bought a Eee Pc 1000H today. They are few things which I do not like in this Samsung plus its performance and durability are still a mistery. Also heard some bad experience from some friends who owe Samsung laptops which made me think that Samsung might not be that great brand for laptop. All people talk so much about how nice this keyboard is compared to others. Well I do not like 2 things about it. It makes the touchpad ridicously small and sencondly I do not like the arrows being places lower that the rest of the keys. They also look smaller than in other netbooks.

  27. andeify Says:

    Last week I had decided to get a netbook, Id been looking at the Acer Aspire One (the 120gb XP version) and almost bought one untill I saw the Samsung. The NC10 has better specs (160gb, bluetooth, 6 cell, 1.3mp cam) for a similar price and looks even better (imo). The larger screen and smaller bezzel mean the proportions look right. The trackpad also looks nicer than the Acer with it having rocker style buttons underneath.

    If you review this before I get one, I would like to know…

    - Do all the colours have blue indicator lights? (i was thinking that the white would have blue while blue could have green or yellow, and the black may have red) just a thought.

    - The silver strip, is this a single peice that goes right around, or are they individual peices for front and sides? not that it makes much difference, im just interested.

    - If there are any design flaws.

    Like others im also interested in the noise, not only from the fans but the hard disk too. Also the brightness and colour quality of the display.

    Thanks

  28. Robin Says:

    When does the review unit arrive? We will receive our units in week 45 (8th of November).
    I hope you will review next week when it’s in.

  29. Elbert Says:

    are they going to bring the black model of the NC10 to north america?

  30. TCT Says:

    Since a month i’ve been using the eee 1000h xp, and its a marvellous machine.
    WirelessN, multi-touchpad, stereo mic, unexpected good sound, 5,5 hours active use, 160 gb,
    onboard overclocking engine, card reader and some other minor things were the reason why i got it.
    Wonder if samsung could offer such good specs on its machine. Certainly hope they dont rush it like
    msi wind, which had to fix shortcomings afterwards, like overclocking bios that can kill your netbook.

  31. jeroen Says:

    Is there any chance that this machine will be sold without M$ Windows? I ‘d like to use it with the new Ubuntu 8.10 OS on it.

  32. pheer6224 Says:

    Look at the touchpad on this thing-the arrows say that there’s either a synaptics touchpad or some cheap clone you can port the driver to.

  33. Kurt Says:

    As of 10/24/08, the Samsung site lists the following NC10 specs:
    http://www.samsung.com/us/system/consumer/product/2008/10/24/np_nc10_ka01us/NC10_spec.pdf

    FYI:

    –533Mhz FSB with 512Mb CPU cache
    –1Gb DDR2 800Mhz Ram, but with only a single Ram slot, you must pull out included 1Gb and replace with 2Gb when upgrading.
    –Shared Intel graphics memory is listed as 128Mb, 1024×600 WSVGA 10.2″ wide LCD screen
    –160Gb 5400rpm 2.5″ HD
    –Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi
    –Synaptics touchpad (per other reviews)
    –keyboard is silver-ion coated to be antibacterial.
    –US market shows white or dark blue, but product gallery shows a black unit as well.
    –Specs list Samsung part #s for data sync cable, vehicle power adapter & optical disk drive, though street price for this disk drive is about $200. Other USB optical drives can be found for $100.
    –Claimed “up to 8hr” battery life on 6-cell 5200mAh Li-ion battery. Looks like up to 7hrs is a real possibility.
    –1 yr std parts & labor warranty, toll free support, ?24/7 support like Samsung Printers?

    AC Adapter Weight comparison:
    –AC adapter weighs 0.83 lbs, so 2.8lb netbook + 0.83lb (13.25oz) adapter = 3.63lbs total pkg
    –For comparison, MSI Wind 6 cell netbook is 2.83lbs, adapter is another 0.7lbs, but if the bulky 3-prong cord is replaced w/ 3-prong plug (see Gadgeteer site review), adapter weight drops to 7oz, = 3.27lb total pkg.

  34. Samsung NC10 Blog Says:

    Well I went and ordered mine already and look forward to reporting back to everyone who is interested! I’ve been waiting for the “right” machine for some time and finally this ticks all my boxes so I though I may as well buy one. When it comes to PC buying there is always a better machine round the corner but all the time you are waiting you dont have a portable netbook so sooner or later you have to buy something else you will wait for ever!

  35. MARIA Says:

    I JUST BOUGHT THIS, BUT STILL ON BACK ORDER, GOT IT MUCH CHEAPER FROM AMAZON,,IF YOU GO TO YOUTUBE, THERE ARE ALOT OF VIDEOS ON THIS MINI LAP TOP,,I HOPE IT IS GOOD,,I AM LOOKING FOWARD TO GETTING IT,,,GOOD LUCK ALL

  36. maria Says:

    some of you have this,,i am in ny …does anyone know the release date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. icke Says:

    would love to try this device with linux, dont wont to pay the ms-fee

  38. Mad Says:

    Boought one of these recently and found that the hard disk was not detected in bios and starting up just got an error “Operating System Missing”. Anyone experience anything like this before?

  39. Descheeny Says:

    Alright, I had the greatest experience with this puppy. I installed speedy vista on it and it worked great. I had to install some of the drivers that were missing from the website, but yeah, was able to handle word07 firefox and wmp all at once with out a hick up. Its an awesome computer!!

  40. mjpileggi Says:

    I saw the Acer Aspire One recently at costco and thought I’d buy it! Love the small size for my travels. Then I discovered the Samsung NC10 yesterday and have been reading all about it. I like that it’s slightly larger than the Aspire One and it seems to be the better of the two and yet still lightweight to carry.

    I also read about the MSI Wind, which again, the Samsung seems to be the better one. I don’t know a lot about computers but I read it doesn’t have Linux OS. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Can someone explain this to me?

    I would be using this for my travels (to include overseas) to check emails and the web, write my journals, and upload my photos. I use SD memory cards for my photos and some of them are SDHC cards, which I read that the Aspire One doesn’t take.

    Thanks!

  41. mjpileggi Says:

    PS: to JohnR – you can go to Amazon and do a side by side comparison. pull up one of the notebooks and then click on comare similiar items.

  42. ils Says:

    This page says the us model does not have a led backlit screen:

    http://ars.samsung.com/customer/usa/jsp/faqs/faqs_view.jsp?isREL=Y&SITE_ID=1&AT_ID=142724&ARS_ID=8344530

    Does The Netbook Have An LED Backlit Display?

    No. The netbook sold in the USA (NC-10) has a 10.2″ wide SuperBright© display with 1024X600 WSVGA (220nit) resolution, anti-glare finish and great viewing angles. If you are inquiring about an overseas model, please visit http://www.samsungcomputer.com and select the country of origin.

  43. mjpileggi Says:

    Not being a computer expert, what is negative about not having a led backlit screen?

  44. Freddy Says:

    More on the battery life of the Samsung NC10 Netbook can be found on the Sammynetbook.com website:
    http://www.sammynetbook.com

  45. ils Says:

    Ignore my earlier post, the website has been updated to say that the backlight is led

    http://ars.samsung.com/customer/usa/jsp/faqs/faqs_view.jsp?isREL=Y&SITE_ID=1&AT_ID=142724&ARS_ID=8344530

  46. Hannah Says:

    Looks amazing. Hoping to get one of these babies for myself! One problem, is there or is there not a CD drive?

  47. Slowshutter Says:

    Picstop.co.uk have a competition to win one of these amazing netbooks here: http://www.picstop.co.uk/competition/Win-a-Samsung-NC10-Netbook

    i would’nt mind a free one of these :P

  48. Thurstan Hethorn Says:

    I’ve been using the Samsung NC10 for 2 months now and absolutely love it. The keyboard is awesome, battery life is as advertised (unlike many other laptops) I have consistantly had 5-6 hours of battery life with wifi turned on or a 3G broadband dongle in (brightness on 3 bars).

    It is in no way a underpowered machine. I thought because it was running on a 1.6ghz atom meant for internet enabled phones that it wouldn’t be able to do much more than the browsing that netbooks are generally thought to be for. I have found this to be incorrect. I have the full adobe suite on my NC10 and have been editing photos in photoshop and picasa without considerable delay. Certainly it is a few degrees slower then the Mac Pro I use for design at work, but hey I’m travelling and this thing is seriously small, so I’m quite happy to take a hit in performance.

    I’m part way through pimping out my netbook. I’ve upgraded the ram to 2GB, which has helped considerably particularly when running dreamweaver & photoshop. I’ve bought a Logitech Nano, with it’s nano receiver you can just leave it in perminantly without worry as the usb dongle only sticks out 8mm.

    I’m about to buy a WD 500Gb My Passport Elite and swap the internal 160Gb drive so that I can continue taking travel pics (I use an Canon 450D set to RAW + JPG, it’s amazing how many gigs you can go through). Then it will be complete.

    Other things to love about this laptop: The included samsung software to ghost the install drive. I have several ghosts now depending on the task I want to use the netbook for. I’ve ended up just using the full install as it has not slowed down significantly. My bag strap broke and the NC10 landed on a hardwood floor on it’s corner. The panels poped apart, but the screen was fine and everything else worked and felt just fine after poping the panels back together. It runs a 24in LCD at native 1920×1200 res flawlessly.

    Gripes: Bluetooth does not have it’s own light or on/off button, the glossy cover shows any fingermarks – I would have prefered matte.

    I actually only upgraded to this netbook after I replaced two Advent 4211Cs in the space of three weeks. The advents felt sturdy and were about £40 cheaper, but one developed screen issues and the other showed signs of screen issues, but a day or two later I noticed it would only work when the power cable was in. I was very disappointed with these Advents so I changed to this Samsung NC10 and have been enjoying it ever since.

    The lack of CD drive is not particularly an issue. Much software can be downloaded nowdays. I use online storage for all my backup needs. I have considered getting an external CD/DVD drive, but have not yet required it. Also since I’m travelling light an external drive would take up quite a bit of my carry on bag space. If you really need to find another computer with a drive and transfer the files to a USB key or SD card.

  49. Samsung NC10 Tips Says:

    I’ve fallen in love with this little netbook so much that I’ve set up a tips blogs to help others get the most out of it.

  50. Helen Says:

    HELP…..Just bought this laptop for our 8yr old daughter and so far it seems FAB (i’m actually slightly jealous) but it was advertised as 160gb HD but when in ‘my computer’ it only shows up a slightly less than 80gb HD???

    Any suggestions???

  51. admin Says:

    Helen, is it possible the drive has been partitioned into two different letters?

  52. K. T. Bradford Says:

    If that doesn’t solve your problem, Helen, try asking over on the forums at Sammy Netbook.

  53. F.V Dongen Says:

    i love it and am getting one for christmas!!yay

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