Earlier this month we looked at the N230, a Samsung netbook which set itself apart from the rather crowded competition – not to mention a multitude of siblings – by sporting a claimed 13-hour battery life. However, aside from its longevity, Bluetooth 3.0 and SDXC support, there was little that made it stand out; even the design was classy but hardly revolutionary. However, the NF210 is something a little bit different.
You'll notice as soon as you see it that this netbook looks nothing like any other of its kind, and Samsung is certainly entitled to describe the design as unique. It utilizes In Mold Rolling (IMR) for a dramatic curve in the edges, a wave which 'crests' on either side and pushes the lid into a sympathetically concave shape when viewed from the side.
The 'wave' is accentuated by contrasting use of glossy white plastic on the outside, and a mixture of shiny and faux-brushed-metal blacks on the machine's inside, offset by faux-chrome trim. It gives Samsung's latest an organic feel, evoking a hint of playfulness that's often been attempted (like with the green trim around the Acer Aspire One D150's power button) but rarely succeeds. It makes for a surprisingly refreshing change that's at worst quirky and at best stylish.
Unfortunately the glossy outer shell is just as dust, scratch and fingerprint prone as ever, but these are not as visible on white as on the usual piano black. Thankfully, though the screen features a glossy bezel, its coating is matte, meaning no distracting reflections when looking at dark material on the NF210. The palm-rests are a mixed blessing, as their faux brushed metal material also picks up fingerprints, though they're only visible from an angle.
Its design isn't the only thing that sets the NF210 apart though, as it's also one of the first netbooks available to sport Intel's new dual-core N550 Atom processor. This features two 1.5GHz cores, which in terms of raw clock speed is a step back from the 1.66GHz N450 found in most netbooks, not to mention the 1.83GHz N475 we saw in the Aspire One 533.
However, as with proverbial heads, two cores are better than one. With Hyperthreading support for up to four virtual cores and a still modest maximum power draw of 8.5W (compared to 5.5W for the N450 and 6.5W for the N475), this is certainly an interesting chip. Regrettably you still won't be able to run Full HD (1080p) video smoothly, but for productivity the N550 offers a noticeable advantage and HD Flash video (such as YouTube HD) is now viable, though by no means always smooth.
Remaining specifications are back to familiar territory: integrated low-resolution webcam and microphone; a sparse 1GB of memory; CPU-integrated graphics; a 250GB, 5,400rpm hard drive and a topping of Windows 7 Starter. Likewise on the connectivity front, you get three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA video output, 3.5mm headphone plus microphone jacks, and an SDXC memory card reader. Networking is handled by a non-Gigabit Ethernet port and Wi-Fi N, with Bluetooth 3.0 also on board.