Samsung NC110 review
Samsung’s new NC110 is typical of Samsung’s laptops. Stylish and well-built, it’s not quite as cute as the more expensive NS310 but it’s still a cut above the ordinary. Sadly, netbook specifications haven't moved on recently: inside you’ll find a 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 with 1GB of RAM and Windows 7 Starter Edition.
Unlike the first Atom processors, the N550 is a dual-core model with Hyper-Threading, so to the operating system it behaves like a quad-core processor. Unfortunately this doesn't mean it's fast. An overall score of 13 in our benchmarks means that it will run basic office and web applications fine, as long as you don’t open too many browser tabs or keep multiple applications running at a time.
Due to the restrictive Windows 7 Starter license, Samsung can install only 1GB of RAM, even though it supports 2GB. Although it's fairly easy to upgrade, you'll have to remove the existing 1GB module.
As well as limitations to the RAM, netbooks tend to be light on expansion ports. Video output is limited to an analogue VGA port, and the NC110’s Intel GMA 3150 graphics chip has a puny amount of power, barely managing to decode HD content, so an HDMI port isn't a huge loss. The network port only supports Fast Ethernet, but there’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. None of the three USB ports support the newer, faster USB3 standard.
Samsung has stretched the keyboard to fit the entire width of the case, and the keys feel far bigger than you might expect. The layout is fairly standard, with a double-height Enter key and extra-wide left Shift key, although the Backslash key is out of place. The keys have a light action and provide excellent feedback for touch-typists. The touchpad, although on the small side, is smooth and responsive. The single see-saw button is very narrow but sits on the edge of the case where your thumb naturally rests, and has a light action.
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