Some credit must also go to Samsung’s excellent power management software. Its interface and power management features are more intuitive than those found in Windows XP, adding support for customised power schemes that automatically reduce CPU speed and decrease colour depth to 16-bit.
To test for a theoretical maximum battery life we ran the Reader test in Battery Eater using these settings and with brightness set to its minimum. This, in an overnight test, returned an epic nine hours and 45 minutes. This obviously isn’t reflective of regular usage, but as a maximum it’s pretty impressive and was one to use the NC10 to read in low light conditions, like on a long haul flight or in bed, you could do so for the very long time.
In more realistic conditions, using Wi-Fi for web browsing, listening to music and word processing, the NC10 delivered a minimum four and a half hours at maximum brightness and up to six hours with more optimised settings. Another easily overlooked benefit of this longevity is that, if you leave your NC10 in sleep or hibernate for a day or two, you can come back to it and still have several hours of use left. This is useful if you’re only a light user since either mode will alleviate the major drawback of using XP on a netbook: its slower boot time.
So, whichever way you paint it, the NC10 can achieve excellent longevity and this is just the icing on the cake. Ignoring the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, an underpowered and soon to be replaced anachronism, the NC10 beats its competition in pretty much every way. It’s better made and better looking than either the MSI Wind or Asus Eee PC 1000H, runs cool and quietly, has the best keyboard and arguably offers the best balance of features and price.
This doesn’t make either of the latter bad machines per se; they both have their strengths and are excellent value for money. Indeed, depending on where you shop, you might find the Eee PC 1000H for a little less. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s heavier and uglier than the NC10 and has a smaller hard drive, or that the MSI is more expensive and flimsier.
It might be late to the party, but Samsung has clearly listened to users and learned from the competition, thus producing a supremely balanced proposition. Attractive design and reassuring build quality are married to a great keyboard and superb battery and if one or two things, like the token slip case, could be improved upon, all is forgotten when you look at the price. Unless integrated HSDPA is high on your agenda, you can buy an NC10 with great confidence. In its class: it is the best.
Score in detail