Tuesday, we posted our full review of the Samsung NC10. We were the first publication to do a full review of the Samsung netbook and some of the findings came as a shock to readers, especially our claim that we got 7 and a half hours of battery life. We were surprised as well, because the best battery life we’ve seen from a netbook has been the 5:13 of endurance we got on the 6-cell MSI Wind U100. So we decided to investigate and re-run our test. What we found is that yes, the system can get over 7 hours of battery life, but not at 50% brightness. How We Test Battery Life At LAPTOP we have created our own battery test. The script, which was written by Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch, visits the home pages of 60 popular Web sites on a cycle in Firefox Portable while connected to a Wi-Fi network. The browser launches, loads a page, pauses for 30 seconds, then closes, waits 3 seconds, and re-opens again with the next page on the list. This runs on a cycle until the power on the system is totally drained. In the background a log keeps track of all the sites visited and the time as well as the total duration of the test – from start to finish. We plan to make our test available for download on our site soon, but we are awaiting permission to distribute some of the freeware elements we use, like the browser itself. We put all the laptops on the same power settings – whether they run Windows XP or Vista. The laptops are put in Power Saver mode and we disable sleep, screen savers, hibernation, and Windows update. Usually the screen is set to 40 percent brightness, though in Windows XP you can’t always set an exact percentage of brightness so we go by the number of green bars that appear and try to set that at the fourth out of ten (if there are ten). What Went Wrong in Our First Test On the NC10, there were only 8 bars, so we set our screen brightness to four bars, which is 50%. Unfortunately, what we found out later is that the Samsung Battery Manager, which we couldn’t understand, because the UI is in Korean, overrode the settings in the XP Power Manager and dimmed the screen to only one bar after 30 seconds of inactivity on the keyboard and touchpad. So, when got 7:34 of endurance, the screen was running at a mere one bar, which is about 12.5% brightness.
Further Testing of the NC10 Battery Life We have since rerun the test three times with the Samsung Battery Manager uninstalled. We ran the test twice at 50-percent brightness and got times of 6:34 and 6:30. We also ran it once at full, 100-percent brightness and got a time of 4:38. We plan to run the test again at three brightness bars to see whether either of these brightnesses will produce a result over 7 hours. We suspect that they will, as the screen’s backlight is one of the most power-hungry devices in any notebook. Knowing that 7 and a half hours is within reach, the real question is “how dark does the screen look at one bar of brightness?” And our answer is: fairly dark, but readable. We think two or three bars (25 or 37.5 percent) is a much better brightness so we’re eager to test with those settings. We also can’t figure out how to disable the bluetooth radio (or tell if it is enabled), because that too might be eating up some power, even though we aren’t connected to any bluetooth devices. Some of us here consider ourselves netbook connoisseurs. This is why we have no problem saying that the Samsung NC10 is our netbook of choice right now. Beyond its stellar keyboard and smooth performance, it can provide 6 and a half hours (7 and a half if you can work with a dim screen) of battery life you want in a mobile experience. Stay tuned for the results of our tests at other brightness settings. Update: At 3 bars of brightness (37.5 percent), the NC10 got 6:52 in our battery test. Subjectively, we feel this is probably the best balance of brightness and battery life. However, we are recharging it and planning to run the test again at 2 bars. Update 2: At 2 bars of brightness (25 percent), the NC10 got 7:07.