The MSI Wind U100 is arguably the pick of current netbooks, inspiring rebadged versions under such names as Advent and Medion. Samsung must have looked at MSI's successful design when it made its own Samsung NC10 netbook, for it is very much a me-too Wind.
Many netbooks now follow a standard blueprint, listing a 10in screen, Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor and Windows XP Home operating system. But it is the overall layout and finish of the Samsung NC10 that marks it down as a real Wind-alike, from its pearlescent white finish, full-width keyboard and offset trackpad, to its identical port complement.
Close examinination shows the Samsung NC10 is very slightly larger, about 150g heavier, and has a chrome-finished edge around the case. Its squarer corners, more redolent of an Asus Eee PC, also help quick-glance differentiation.
The Samsung NC10 sports a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM, as with the Wind, but lacks MSI's recent upgrade to 802.11n wireless capability, carrying only the older b/g wireless variants. Bluetooth is here, as is VGA output, a 1.3Mp screen webcam and a multi-card reader.
The Samsung NC10's three key ‘interface' areas of screen, trackpad and keyboard are all of good quality, the latter in particular perhaps trumping even the Wind's impressive keyboard in action and feel. We were less impressed by the overzealous use of printed symbols all over the case to label the ports, though, which detract from an otherwise clean finish.
As we've come to expect from Atom-powered netbooks, overall performance is slow compared to full-size designs. So has the Samsung NC10 really got anything new to bring to the netbook party?
The Samsung NC10's battery is a 6-cell type, as now found on the Wind, which augurs well for long battery life. And while we were expecting decent battery life, we just weren't prepared for how long the NC10 would survive without mains support.
Using the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test, with 802.11g wireless enabled, the Samsung NC10 survived unplugged for a staggering 464 minutes - almost 7.75 hours - making this the longest-lived laptop we've tested. And for a mini-notebook, that kind of performance is key to a model's real-world usefulness.
Samsung's netbook offering may tick nearly all the same boxes as the MSI Wind, but its keen pricing and remarkable mains-free longevity make it a worthy addition to the line. The Samsung NC10 may be marginally larger, heavier and lack 802.11n but this could be the new champion of the breed.