10.1in netbooks have enjoyed an increase in popularity over the last couple of months, mostly due to their size, price and improving performance. Last week, we took a look at the Acer Aspire One D255. Now it’s Samsung’s turn in the spotlight, after the company has joined the bandwagon with no fewer than nine 10.1in machines, including the new NF210 and NF110 – the latter of which we’re putting to the test.
The NF110 comes in a simple two-tone design – black lid, white interior – with a thin burgundy strip running around the dividing edge to add an extra level of sophistication. Despite its slim dimensions (265x189x29mm) and ultra-portable weight (just 1.28kg), it feels sturdily built. Those who like a bit of style in their PC will appreciate the wave pattern that rises in a smooth crescendo to either side of the keyboard.
The island’ keyboard itself lies in its own sunken bay within the base, and is the familiar 93% chiclet model with large separated keys that are firm and smooth to operate. The touch pad is similarly sunken’ – thus kicking one common trend that likes to make touchpad boundaries invisible – and responds well to two-finger Windows 7 controls. Although the mouse bar is made in a single piece, it has a groove in the middle to demarcate between left and right buttons, and the rocker feels comfortable when working.
Most of the NF110′s other exterior features are standard for this class of netbook: 3 USB ports, VGA and Ethernet connections, headphone and mic sockets, plus a 4-in-1 memory card slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC and MMC formats. The resolution of the 10.1in display is also the current favourite of 1024×600, with an energy-efficient LED backlight that’s more than sufficient for most users’ needs.
In many respects the NF110 is indistinguishable from its big sister the NF210, apart from the power of the CPU – the NF110 carries an Intel Atom N455 clocked at 1.66GHz, while the NF210 has the more punchy dual-core N550 clocked at 1.50GHz. Both models share the same Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 graphics card, 250GB S-ATA hard disk and rather limited allocation of 1GB RAM.
Given these relatively meagre resources, though, the NF110′s overall performance is surprisingly impressive. Multitasking with documents, internet and Windows Media Player running simultaneously provided no problems at all, and watching movies on BBC iPlayer revealed good colour contrast and sharpness with barely a hint of juddering. The quality of the NF110′s surround sound was also beefier than usual for a netbook, and the demo racing games that came with the machine created a respectably frenzied atmosphere.
The other area in which the NF110 scores heavily over the rival Acer Aspire One D255 is in its battery life – we managed a minimum of six hours at heavy usage, compared to only four hours on the Acer.
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