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Stylish Samsung NC110 Netbook Expert Review

Samsung NP-NC110-A03SE

Rating: ★★★★½

You bring out a netbook that’s so cheap you can’t possibly pass it by – and that’s exactly what Samsung has done with its NC110.

It’s a real foot in the door of the market at £236 – cheaper than the likes of the Asus Eee PC 1018P, the Packard Bell Dot SE or even the Acer Aspire One 522. In fact, it’s the cheapest netbook around.

But does that price mean it’s a bag of bolts. Actually no, not in the slightest. One of the most surprising things about the Samsung NC110 is that it’s been superbly put together and the materials are of a high grade.

You honestly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this – a PC from the bottom of Samsung’s range – and one of its premium laptops, such as the Samsung SF310. It’s an amazing feat, then, that the NC110 is also ultra slim, light and nicely designed, with a thoughtful location of buttons and ports, as well as a choice of different colours for the base and lid.

The keyboard on the Samsung NC110 is also excellent quality, with nicely spaced keys that react to inputs with just the right amount of sensitivity, and the same goes for the touchpad – it feels absolutely spot on.

Samsung NC110: Specifications

The 10.1-inch screen on the Samsung NC110 isn’t a bad thing to look at. The 1024 x 600 resolution is pretty standard for a netbook nowadays. It’s a little bit on the grainy side but is reasonably bright and, thanks to its matte finish, there’s next to no reflection whatsoever.

The only real gripe that can be levelled at the Samsung NC110 is the lack of adjustability in the screen – it really doesn’t go back far enough, so if you’re sat on a train with very limited space, you’re not going to be able to angle the screen right up to your face.

There’s a webcam nestled in the top of the screen too, for capturing live video in chat. You wouldn’t expect much from it but it’s actually not too bad – the video is smooth and the picture quality, even in low lighting, is quite crisp.

Despite a most basic hardware setup, the Samsung NC110 features a pretty comprehensive range of extras, including three USB ports, a card reader and a VGA port for hooking up to an external monitor. Ok, so there’s no HDMI, but it almost feels like there’s not a lot of point. After all, the Samsung NC110 struggles with video, let alone anything high definition.

It does, however, come with a decent 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, so you can be sure to make the most of your home’s wireless network, providing you’re running a compatible Wireless N router.

Annoyingly, the Samsung NC110 comes pre-loaded from the factory with a huge range of software that will really bother some people when it pops up from time to time.

However, separating the wheat from the chaff, some of it – on the Samsung side anyway – is quite handy to have, such as an app that helps you find and connect to Wi-Fi hotspots easily, or quickly turn it off to save battery.

There’s also an app to optimise performance, including startup time, and it’s all completely free.

You can’t help feeling that some – especially newcomers – will feel slightly put off by this, rather than encouraged to use it.

Samsung NC110: Performance

Samsung boasts up to 10.7 hours of life from the standard six cell battery found in the NC110, and although it wasn’t far off achieving that, all that could be squeezed out of it during mixed use (with the Wi-Fi on at all times) was about seven hours from a full charge.

Still, it’s enough to keep you going all day without having to spoil your light luggage with a hefty charger, and let’s be fair – it’s one of the best we’ve seen in the netbook category from what is the cheapest example of its kind.

The Samsung NC110 sticks with a fairly conventional specification for notebooks – not a surprise really, given its price tag and the fact that the lowly Windows 7 Starter Edition doesn’t need much to power it. It packs an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of memory and Intel GMA integrated graphics.

So the Samsung NC110′s not particularly powerful in any way – it can just about cope with basic internet surfing, word processing and listening to music, but that’s about it. Don’t expect to be able to play even the most basic-looking games out there or even think about extensive multitasking.

The 250GB hard drive is decent, and will certainly suffice for most of the files you’ll want to carry around with you during a day, but it isn’t anything to shout about in this category.

The built-in speakers on the Samsung NC110 aren’t anything to write home about either, but they’re certainly not the worst of their kind and at least they can be turned up to a reasonable volume level, even if it does become a little shrill at that point.

We liked

The Samsung NC110 costs very little to buy, but even so it seems as if Samsung has seen fit to put it together with the exact same thoughtfulness and attention to detail that it uses on much more expensive laptops. It even looks pretty fantastic too.

Then there’s that battery life, which is really astounding – it’s a lot better than many other netbooks out there, and they cost much more.

We disliked

There’s not all that much that the Samsung NC110 didn’t do right, really. OK, so the specification is as basic as it gets, but you wouldn’t expect much more for the money.

The only real gripe about the Samsung NC110 is the amount of software that it came pre-installed withSome was fairly useful, some was just plain annoying and unnecessary.

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Pros

  • Huge battery life
  • Excellent build quality
  • Slim and light
  • Good looking

Cons

  • Basic performance
  • Bloated with useless software
  • Limited screen adjustability

Verdict

Samsung has grabbed the rest of the netbook-producing market and turned it upside-down with the NC110, setting the bar high in a market that already seemed to be saturated to the maximum.

It’s often hard to be hopeful about something that far down the price bracket, because it almost seems destined to fail. But we’ve genuinely been surprised by the Samsung NC110‘s abilities.

The Apple iPad 2s and Motorola Xooms of this world will still reign supreme in the desirability stakes, but for the more level-headed types out there who want something really purposeful, the Samsung NC110‘s price tag will certainly turn a few more heads than any other netbook before it.

Samsung NC110

 

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