The Bottom Line
Sep 1 2011 - At a list price of $400, the Samsung NC110-A03 would be just an average netbook with long battery life and an excellent keyboard. With street pricing as low as $320, it becomes a very reasonable netbook that offers a dual core processor at the price of many single core competitors. There are still some areas where it could be improved, including a better trackpad design and improved display with wider viewing angles. Still, a solid value for those that want a netbook over a budget class laptop.
- Dual Core Atom Processor
- Anti-Glare Display
- Excellent Keyboard
- Trackpad And Button Design Difficult To Use
- Display Has Very Narrow Viewing Angles
- Intel Atom N570 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 1GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 10.1" WSVGA (1024x600) LED Backlit Display With VGA Webcam
- Intel GMA 3150 Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 10.1" x 7.1" x 1.3" @ 2.6 lbs.
- Windows 7 Starter, Office Starter
Review - Samsung NC110-A03
Sep 1 2011 - Samsung has updated their NC110 netbook lineup with the new NC110-A03. This version packs in the new Intel Atom N570. It shares the same clock rate as the previous N455 model but doubles the number of cores and also adds a bit more cache. The result is a netbook that should offer a bit more performance that previous models albeit at a slightly higher price tag. In practice, the extra core doesn't offer that much of a performance gain due to the limitation of just a single gigabyte of DDR3 memory as required by the Windows 7 Starter operating system. Upgrading the memory to 2GB should offer some solid performance gains. Still, this is a netbook and as such still won't be able to handle demanding media tasks.
Storage is limited by the Windows license just as the memory is. The result is a typical netbook 250GB hard drive setup with a 5400rpm drive. This does impact the performance especially from cold boots or loading large programs. Of course, there are only a few netbooks that come equipped with 7200rpm drives and even fewer than come with solid state drives
The display of the Samsung uses a matte or anti-glare coating on it which is a welcome change from the traditional glossy displays of many laptops and netbooks. This helps make the system much easier to use outdoors or in challenging indoor lighting that is prone to reflections and glare. Sadly, the 10.1-inch screen does not have very wide viewing angles. This means that multiple people viewing the screen will encounter color drop-off. Similar color drop-off was also noticed when the screen is tilted back at modest angles.
One might think that the extra core of the Atom N570 processor might help the system perform better with HD video streaming which has been problematic with past Atom based netbooks. Sadly, the graphics still seem to be heavily limited by the Intel GMA 3150. The second processor core didn't help make up any different and even 720p HD video streams cannot be done done reliably enough for it to be useful.
Critics and consumers have always enjoyed the keyboard designs of Samsung's netbooks all the way back to the days of the old NC10. They continued to use a chiclet design which a very functional layout including full sized right and left shift keys and a larger than normal left control key. Spacing is good between the keys providing a comfortable and accurate experience. The same can't be said for the trackpad on the N110 though. It uses a very wide design that is very short. This leads to more than desired number of times when the cursor may jump due to an accidental touch while typing. The trackpad buttons are also very thin making them difficult to use.Samsung includes a six cell battery pack with the NC110 netbooks. It features a fairly sizable 6600mAh capacity rating. Since this is a dual core based netbook, power consumption will likely be higher even with the same overall power rating as past single core Atom processors. In video streaming playback tests, the NC110-A03 managed to run for just under six and a half hours. This puts it below many of the top tier netbooks for running times such as the HP Mini 1103 or the ASUS Eee PC 1015. Still, it should provide a near all day experience with more typical usage.