Customer Review

955 of 986 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IT Pro's Netbook Epiphany (the Samsung NC10)....., November 23, 2008
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This review is from: Samsung NC10-14GW 10.2-Inch Netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, 6 Cell Battery, XP Home) White (Personal Computers)
USER BACKGROUND:
I've been involved with PC's since PC's came into existence. Through the years I've owned a wide range of notebooks from luggables, desktop replacements, to travel companions (currently I own a couple of 12" touch screen tablets and two HP 20" HDX media notebooks used as desktop replacements). I was ready for a new travel notebook and started to follow the evolving "Netbook" category. As in the past, I was faced with a substantial expenditure (several thousand dollars) to get one of the current higher end travel notebooks that would meet my general laptop requirements; a light, relatively powerful, good battery life and compact design. The evolving +/- $500 Netbook category piqued my curiosity and I started to read reviews and study the new product offerings including their upgradability potential, or lack thereof.

INTENDED USE:
In my experience, most air travelers use a laptop similar to myself, web browsing, email, and light office applications (word, excel, etc); or in other words the "Netbook" categories target market.

REQUIREMENTS:
On occasion I take long trips across the country (8 to 10 hour block to block) and I wanted my new purchase to provide a single charge that would last through that day's journey; no spare batteries or AC adapter in tow. A typical trip for me begins at the departure gate and firing up the notebook for a little catch-up computing while waiting for departure. Once airborne and settled in, I pull my notebook out for some on-board work. Upon arriving at my connection stop I either head to a travel lounge or the departure gate and get on-line once again. On the last flight leg, I'll generally pull out my notebook for some additional in-air use before getting to my destination.

My target requirements:
1. Light weight & Compact foot-print
2. Long battery life
3. 10" - 12" screen size, 1024x600 minimum resolution and bright
4. Reasonable processing power for intended use
5. Windows XP Pro
6. 2 GB of memory and a 320 GB 7200 rpm hard drive

MY NETBOOK SELECTION:
I purchased the "Samsung NC10" and I'M VERY IMPRESSED! I pre-ordered from Amazon.com and received the unit on 11/19/08. I settled on the white version since I'm not a fan of black keyboards which the NC10's blue and black color options sport. With the modifications discussed below, this little machine exceeds my overall expectations and is everything the various reviewers have analyzed and discussed to date. Most reviewers consider the keyboard on the NC10 the best in category, but since I'm not a touch typist that wasn't one of my hot buttons, however the key board is large, solid, and pleasant to use.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
The standard NC10 came closest to my purchase specs for light weight; it's under 3 lbs, long battery life; it seems Samsung's targeted 6 - 8 hours of battery life is doable (I've hit 6+ hours using disk, WiFi and toned down screen brightness). The 10.2" screen is very bright and clear with 1024x600 resolutions; it helps to auto-hide the taskbar to buy a little more screen real estate. The unit is very compact and like most Netbooks its projected area is smaller then an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper and the closed clamshell is 1" thick. The standard unit arrives with XP Home, 1 GB memory and a 160 GB 5400 rpm drive. The NC10 feels solid, build quality (inside and out) are excellent and out of the box the unit was responsive and fairly snappy. I have two WiFi access points in my home and the NC10's WiFi card picked both up with excellent reception and through-put; I also tried my Sprint USB broadband adapter with equally satisfactory results.

THE UPGRADES:
Like most engineering types; "If its not broke, take it apart and fix it anyway". I've read the reviews and knew the memory and hard disk could be easily be upgraded (given a little bit of prior experience and some hardware finesse). I went to my preferred parts supplier, Newegg, and purchased a 2GB stick of RAM for $32 and a 7200 rpm 320 GB disk drive for $100. I also picked-up a nice Netbook carrying case by Caselogic for $12 with my Amazon order. I used Apricon's EZ Upgrade Kit to image the units' standard 160 GB disk and then put it on the shelf as the failsafe backup. It took me about 10 minutes to take the unit apart and upgrade the components. I then prepared a Windows XP Pro DVD slipstreamed with SP3, repartitioned the disk, reinstalled the operating system and all the Samsung drivers and application software. Samsung did an excellent job of putting all the NC10's drivers and application software on their technical support web page. The overall result of these upgrades makes a noticeable improvement in overall performance. I'm very pleased with the final results for this tweaked, travel ready road machine (an example: standard boot time to WiFi connection is about 90 seconds, however I use hibernation on my notebooks and the machine will boot-up to WiFi connected status in 25 seconds).

NETBOOKS FUTURE:
I agree with many of the industry and media experts who have editorialized on the Netbook phenomena. Netbooks will continue to be a significant new growth segment in the overall notebook category. The manufactures have an interesting dilemma however; Netbooks will also continue to cut into sales of the higher margin, costlier tier of their notebook offerings. Feature creep is probably going to be the manufactures biggest marketing challenge; the temptation to seek product differentiation by adding larger screens, faster processors (central & graphics), more IO, etc., all tending to increase price, size, weight, and cut into battery life. If you examine your real world use and expectations you may have the same epiphany I have had; these little Netbooks are excellent solutions vs. the more expensive traditional notebook offerings. With a couple of easy inexpensive tweaks, the "Samsung NC10" is a home run!
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 77 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2008 10:22:29 AM PST
R. Bell says:
I am curious, if the NC10 "is a home run," what was lacking in it that caused you to only give a 4 out of 5 rating?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2008 4:13:57 PM PST
R. Hill says:
Isn't it obvious? A machine that would have had my modifications already to go would have been garnered the 5 out of 5. I find nothing amiss with the NC10 as delivered other then the tweaks I outlined in my review. I have noticed a couple of retail notebook sites that will make the exact modifications I implemented myself for a reasonable charge.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2008 6:12:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2008 6:15:29 PM PST
C. Bhairo says:
R. Hill, Microsoft put new limitations on Netbook manufacturers.

According to Microsoft's new guidelines, in order to grant a manufacturer a new license for Windows XP, the computer's RAM must not be greater than 1 GB. If it is, then Vista must be the default OS, which will horribly slow down the Netbook. And Samsung intentionally limited the HD space to 160 GBs because the electricity consumption is lower than the higher capacities at the moment (which contributes to Samsung NC10s 8 hour battery life)

I'm surprised that you are in the IT industry, and did not know the above.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2008 6:53:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2008 7:15:43 PM PST
R. Hill says:
C. Bhairo......Yes, I've read some of the post concerning Microsoft restrictions for Netbook manufactures. The question I was answering was why a 4 of 5 not a 5 of 5 rating. As I explained, it was to get the NC10 to "my specs" however, others could pursue the retail "customizer" approach (not OEM manufactures) who may offer the same upgrades I've completed; although I'm not sure they would do the XP Pro upgrade. With regards to the 160GB disk drive and power consumption, that is being discussed on the "Notebook Review" forum:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=306435&page=29

...and includes a link to a detail power review at "Tom's Hardware" of 5400/7200 rpm laptop drives. I think the net result shows a significant gain with the newer 2.5" drives with negligible difference in power consumption/battery life (for $100). I'm "surprised" my post wasn't clear enough....sorry.

Posted on Nov 25, 2008 4:36:31 AM PST
Willy B says:
Very nice review. Which Caselogic case did you buy? I can't seem to find it on new egg.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2008 9:43:50 AM PST
R. Hill says:
Hello Willy_B,

Hope my experiences help you out.....I bought the case from Amazon and have been happy with it. It has a zippered external pouch where I stash a small retractable wired USB mouse and my USB Sprint Broadband modem; also handles. Do a search on this product title and you should get a hit.....

Caselogic LNEO-10 Ultra-Portable Neoprene Notebook Sleeve (Black)

Posted on Nov 25, 2008 3:48:07 PM PST
Argyris says:
R. Hill, I agree with your assessment here on the four versus five stars, partly because of Samsung's own policies regarding the product:

http://ars.samsung.com/customer/usa/jsp/faqs/faqs_view.jsp?isINPUT=Y&SITE_ID=1&PG_ID=0&AT_ID=140503&PROD_SUB_ID=0&PROD_ID=1355

Granted, I haven't checked the fine print on competitors' products, which may well be the same. For those who don't wish to follow the link, essentially the EULA states that any upgrade to this netbook voids part (for memory) or all (for hard disk) of the warranty. This is quite restrictive, given that a memory upgrade *is possible and is supported by the hardware*. Certainly, Microsoft has quite strict standards regarding its XP licensing these days, and maybe these play a part in why this EULA is so restrictive, but one must still factor this into the basic usability score of the product. Therefore, whether or not Samsung is allowed to produce an XP netbook with better specs, the fact that the final product *can only* be improved by the end user (who in the process must also void his warranty) justifies docking a point.

Excellent review, by the way. I've had my eye on this particular netbook (the blue version) since the beginning of November, and I plan on getting one soon. I appreciate the time you took in preparing this overview.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2008 8:29:42 PM PST
R. Bell says:
Please do not get me wrong either. I agree, this was a VERY informative review and the best one I have read so far. I was merely trying to find out if I missed something which in a way I guess I did. I am not an IT professional and have ordered this to supplement a Thinkpad supplied by my work. I travel a great deal and one of the things I do use my laptop for is to watch DVDs on transatlantic flights. Does anyone have any experience with battery life running an external DVD? I am hoping to get rid of my inflight transformer.

Posted on Nov 26, 2008 11:33:17 AM PST
netbooklvr says:
Kudos to the reviewer - very helpful information!! What exact 7200rpm replacement HDD did you install (brand, model, part number, etc.)?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2008 1:59:10 PM PST
R. Hill says:
netbooklvr...I used the Seagate Momentus, 7200.3 ST9320421AS 320GB 7200 RPM with 16MB Cache and SATA 3.0 interface from Newegg for $100.

r_bell....I ran a DVD player test this afternoon. I used a LG, USB powered DVD player and got 3 hours of run time with the screen set to maximum brightness; the movie looked great on the screen, however I had to set my display to 1024x768 and then scroll the player position to get a full screen.
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