- Stunning design
- Fantastic battery life
- Perfect keyboard layout
- Mediocre speakers
- Flimsy carry case
- Weighty battery
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We could be coy and suggestive and hint at the conclusions to come, but given you can see the score at the top and might have read the strap line "the best netbook money can buy" on the front page, you should already know what's coming. That in May we visited Samsung in Korea and were told the company wasn't working on a netbook and had no plans to do so either proves that Koreans make excellent poker players, or that the Korean giant has designed, produced and delivered a truly superb product in a matter of months. Frankly, when you're dealing with a company like Samsung, anything seems possible.
Of course, fundamentally the NC10 is little different to any other netbook currently available. At the centre of it all, as ever, is an Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz. This, as we've seen through the last few months, delivers a remarkable balance of performance and battery life. It might not be a high performance part, but for the needs of a netbook it's just right and until something else comes along to best it, either the AMD Conesus, the proposed ARM effort, or a dual-core Atom, it's as good as netbook processing gets. This is backed up the usual 1GB DDR2 RAM module and since there's just the one slot in the NC10, you'll need a 2GB stick if you wish to upgrade - something that's made easy thanks to a dedicated single-screw fixed panel.
Network connectivity comes in the form of 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi and though the likes of the Asus Eee PC 1000H and MSI Wind U100-291UK also pack Draft-N Wi-Fi, it's a luxury we and plenty of others can do without. Naturally there's Bluetooth in there, too, along with the 10.2in, 1,024 x 600, LED backlit display that appears to have become the norm among netbooks.
For storage there's an exceedingly capacious 160GB hard drive and unlike so many netbooks, those mentioned above accepted, it features a six-cell battery with a 5,200mAh capacity. That it has all this and comes in at just under £300, approximately £30 less than the MSI, means the NC10 is already off to an extremely good start before you've even clapped eyes on it.
And when you do, things only get better. Glance at the NC10 and you'd be forgiven for thinking it to be an Eee PC, but closer inspection reveals plenty of differences and ones that make it a fundamentally more attractive and more durable piece of kit. Most striking in this regard is the faux-chrome accenting that runs down both sides and across the front edge of the machine. It's such a simple thing but it instantly lends the NC10 an ever so slightly more adult and grown up look, contrasting the otherwise all white chassis very nicely. You might be relieved to hear that white isn't the only option, too, with rather fetching blue and a black versions available at identical prices.
Aside from the chromed edges, there are plenty more things to like about the NC10's design. Its lid, for instance, has a matte plastic finish, as opposed to a glossy plastic one that's forever picking up fingerprints, grease and scratches. For something that's going to be used regularly on the move this can only be a good thing and it's pleasing to see Samsung paying attention to what many users have been demanding. This is joined by smart silver 'Samsung' lettering and each side of the lid is tapered slightly to meet the outside edges of the main body.