Review: Samsung NC110

 
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Published: May 19, 2011 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella / Romain Thuret / Franck Mée
Translated by: Jack Sims
Although Samsung arrived late in the netbook sector, it made quite an impact when it did get there with the release of the NC10, a landmark product in its time. Two years down the line, here's its successor, the NC110. Faced with an ever growing choice of netbooks, will the NC110 have what it takes to be as successful as its forebear?

Standard hardware

In spite of having an entirely plastic casing, the NC110 doesn't look cheap. It's well finished overall with good quality plastics. In its white version (the one we tested), the contour of the panel is the only area that picks up finger marks. You have to be more careful with the black model, which is more susceptible to getting grubby.

NC110

This 10.1 inch has a chiclet keyboard. The keys are well proportioned and well positioned. They make for supple, instinctive, agreeable keying and you'll find you don't make too many errors. Samsung has, however, had to reduce the size of the arrow keys to fit everything in and this is the main downside to the keyboard.

We were impressed with the touchpad. There were no problems with the glide and it's fine to the touch. It is a perfectly respectable size, given the size of the NC110 itself.

Compaq Mini 311cAlthough the webcam doesn't have a 720p resolution, it gives a relatively nice image. The image isn't too noisy or overexposed. There's not too much solid black. Movements are also rendered well enough. The biggest fault is that the whites are a little too dark.

Connectivity is pretty standard. On the left there's a power socket, an Ethernet (RJ45) port and a USB 2.0 port. On the other side you'll find the headphones and mic sockets, two USB 2.0 ports and the VGA out. We would have preferred to see a USB 3.0 port for those users who have a USB 3.0 key or hard drive: according to our tests, file copying on this type of peripheral is twice as fast as USB 2.0.

The NC110 is quiet even when you push it hard. Although the increase in temperature isn't problematic, the expulsion of the hot air can be. This air is sent out at an angle on the side and it does get uncomfortable to place the machine on your knees when this is happening.
 
The NC110's temperature readings when you push the components hard
Readings taken using a Fluke Ti25 (Distrame) camera
 
 
NC110
Underneath, with the panels off

NC110 Hood


FX700
  Power supply, RJ45 and USB 2.0
NC110
  Headphones socket, mic, USB 2.0 (X 2) and VGA out


Processor power: netbook performance levels

Equipped with an Intel Atom N455, the NC110 was never likely to give us any surprises. We scored it with a CPU index of 20 and this destines it for office document and Internet usage, like most 10 inch machines. You can extend this to photo retouching and video editing, as long as you have plenty of patience and time as this type of task will take between 3 and 6 times as long as on a standard laptop.

You won't be able to play 1080p HD (Blu-Ray equivalent) videos on this machine You'll have to make do with DVD or DivX type compressed videos. The graphics part is limited to HD 720p videos maximum.

Windows 7 Starter takes 49 seconds to boot. You then have to wait another 15 to 30 seconds for the various pieces of software and connection to a wi-fi network to launch. It turns off in under 15 seconds.

Gaming: retro-gaming only

The graphics chipset already struggles with 1080p videos so there's no hope for gaming, or at least no hope on recent games. You can fall back on older titles.

Audio: ok for a netbook

While it won't shake the walls, the NC110 is equipped with speakers that do ok for a netbook. The sound is clean and controlled. The headphones out offers very good sound, coping very well even with low power.

Battery life, a good 5 hours

Size and weight rarely pose any problems when it comes to carrying a 10.1 inch machine around. Where one model can give an advantage over another is with battery life. The NC110 is in the middle of the field here with 5h10 video playback (wi-fi deactivated, headphones plugged in and brightness at 100 cd/m²).
4/5 Samsung NC110 DigitalVersus 2011-05-20 00:00:00

Pros

  • Decent battery life 5h10 video playback
  • Touchpad and keyboard nice to use
  • Decent audio for a netbook
  • Matte panel
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Panel with very low contrast and inaccurate colours
  • Arrow keys too small
  • Very limited gaming capacity

Conclusion

Although the Samsung NC110 doesn't do any better than the rest, it does at least as well. With higher battery life, it could have stood out from the crowd a bit more but, as things stand, it's still a netbook you can buy without worrying about making a bad choice.

OUR SCORE 4/5
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