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Samsung NF210 review

Tom Morgan
18 Nov 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
327.80
inc VAT

The NF210 is a great-looking netbook, but the dual-core processor doesn’t bring a noticeable performance increase in day-to-day use.

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Specifications

10.1 in 1,024x600 display, 1.3kg, 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550, 1.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Starter 32-bit

The NF210 is the first Samsung netbook to use the latest generation Intel Atom processor. The new N550 chip includes a second processor core for increased performance, which helps compensate for its relatively slow 1.5GHz clock speed.

Small form desktop PCs have used dual-core Atom processors for a while, but these weren’t ideal to fit in netbooks because of their higher power requirements. The new mobile chips use much less power, but still have two physical cores. Like previous Atoms they also feature Hyper-Threading, so in Windows they appear as four separate processor cores.

Samsung NF210

The benefits of a dual-core processor are most noticeable when watching video. Where older Atom processors struggle with high definition content, the N550 didn’t stutter when playing our test files. Unfortunately, popular video streaming sites like BBC iPlayer HD and YouTube HD were still jittery, most likely due to a lack of Flash support from the graphics chip. Unfortunately, the NF210’s low resolution 1,024x600 display isn’t large enough for HD video, and there’s only a VGA output for connecting a higher-resolution display. Image quality is decent enough, with reasonable brightness and colour reproduction, but viewing angles were limited. The speakers were surprisingly loud for a netbook, but quality was predictably low.

Samsung NF210 Right

During everyday use, the NF210 still feels very much like a netbook. Windows was responsive when only one or two applications were running, but running a web browser with multiple tabs made the whole system feel sluggish. The extra processor core can’t make up for the slow clock speed, and the limited memory prevents serious multitasking. There was a boost in our video encoding test, but it’s hardly the kind of work you want to undertake on a netbook.

Amazingly, Intel has nearly matched the single-core Atom’s low power requirements, with the N550 having a TDP of only 2W more than single-core chips. This means you won’t be sacrificing half your battery life if you choose a netbook a dual-core processor. The NF210 lasted just over eight hours in our light-use test, which is in line with most other netbooks.

Samsung NF210 Left

Aside from the new processor, the NF210 is otherwise a fairly standard netbook. There’s a 250GB hard disk and a paltry 1GB of RAM. This is the maximum amount of memory a manufacturer can install in a netbook and still use Windows 7 Starter edition, but there’s nothing to stop you adding more. You can remove the 1GB module fitted, and replace it with a 2GB module for around £25. Connectivity is limited to three USB ports and a card reader that supports the newer SDXC memory cards.

One thing that sets the NF210 apart from other netbooks is the unique curved body. The edges at either side of the keyboard roll up in a wave shape, which certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. A glossy white lid and brushed aluminium finish add a further touch of class. While we liked the design, the curves are high enough that larger hands may find them annoying when typing.

Dual-core netbooks might not be the leap forward we were hoping for, but any performance boost is welcome for the small-form laptops, especially if it doesn’t come at the expense of battery life. The NF210 is a well-designed netbook, but cheaper options such as the Packard Bell Dot S are available for much less.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Atom N550
Processor clock speed1.5GHz
Memory1.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory2GB
Size31x275x188mm
Weight1.3kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size10.1 in
Native resolution1,024x600
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 3150
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory64MB

Storage

Total storage capacity250GB
Optical drive typenone

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsSD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Starter 32-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc
Software includednone
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£328
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.dabs.com

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