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Samsung NC10 - 10.2in Netbook - Build Quality & Keyboard
Faux-chrome hinges are attached to a strong hinge section and the matte plastic finish is continued throughout. Rubberised legs on the battery and at the front of the machine ensure it remains well planted on an even surface, while also enhancing airflow under the machine. Indeed, one thing that became immediately apparent is how cool the NC10 remains under all operation. There are plenty of vents, particularly around the hard drive, while the fan rarely seems to spin up and even when it does the NC10 remains blissfully quiet with no annoying squeals or squeaks - something that can afflict poorly fitted fans.
Other nice visual touches include how the ports, like on other Samsung notebooks, are labelled at the top of the machine, aiding easy identification and location, while the slightly upward angle of the front edge is also worth noting. Not only is it a nice visual cue, it means the status lights that run along the front edge are easily visible even if the lid is closed.
It's stuff like this that immediately gives you the impression of a quality product, an impression backed up by outstanding build quality. This isn't always something netbooks are renowned for, both the MSI Wind and the Acer Aspire One could be accused of using some cheap feeling plastics, but the Samsung has an enviably solid feeling to it. All the plastics used in the NC10, even on the underside of the machine, feel very solid and durable. Vitally, the screen is also very well protected. When forcibly bent, pressure is transmitted evenly, rather than concentrated on a specific area, while even a firm punch to the back produces little distortion.
Nowhere is this quality more apparent than in the keyboard. Keys have a firm and springy feel to them and a pleasing amount of travel as well. Flex is near non-existent - you have to press down unrealistically hard to garner any movement - while the keys are 93 per cent of full size, so are well proportioned and easy to type on.
Samsung has also absolutely nailed the keyboard layout. There's a decent size Return key, the Fn key sits inside the Ctrl key and no important keys have been miniaturised to fit them in. It's particularly good how the cursor keys, along with Page Up and Page Down, have been slightly withdrawn from the main body of the keyboard, ensuring that they never get in the way of normal typing - a perennial problem on Eee PCs in particular!
All told, it's a faultless effort and within minutes we were up to our normal typing speed. We prefer it to the otherwise very good MSI Wind keyboard thanks to its withdrawn cursor keys and as a whole it's only surpassed by the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, but that's soon to be replaced by a new effort from HP and can't be recommended in the interim. Thus, if a really good keyboard is high on your list of priorities, you can't go far wrong with the NC10.