Samsung has entered the netbook market, announcing a lightweight mini-laptop with a 10.2 inch screen called the NC10.

The new netbook by the South Korean electronics giant shows how popular netbooks have become since their commercial introduction late last year. The devices have caught on because they offer people a low-cost, portable way to wirelessly access the web.

The NC10 makes use of many of the best ideas found on netbooks today, including a larger screen for comfortable Web viewing.

Samsung said it researched the netbook market extensively before diving in, and found many people were frustrated with small keyboards and short battery life, so it included a larger keyboard and 6-cell battery for up to 8 hours of use.

The device is designed around Intel's Atom microprocessor and comes with Microsoft Windows XP. The company said it has no plans to offer a version with Linux.

The NC10 will be available from October this year in China, Hong Kong and South Korea as well as several countries in Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia.

The device will hit the US in mid-November, a Samsung representative said.

Although the company did not provide a detailed spec sheet, it did say the NC10 will come with either an 80GB or 160GB hard disk drive, a 1.3 megapixel digital motion camera, and wireless connections to other devices through Bluetooth 2.0 as well as wireless Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.

The company also boasted the durable materials used in the design of the netbooks, which come in white, black or metallic blue, saying they are built tough for a mobile lifestyle.

Samsung also included its "silver nano" antibacterial coating on the netbook's keyboard.

Samsung will join a host of rivals in the netbook market when the NC10 launches, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Micro-Star International and the company that started the netbook trend, Asustek Computer.