Samsung NF210

The last year or so has seen the laptop market being flooded with a series of netbooks which are proving popular thanks to their compact designs and affordable prices. There may be a huge selection to choose from, but a great deal of the products are very similar when it comes to their feature list so it's nice to see something a little bit different from Samsung. Priced at £330, the NF210 is something of a premium netbook and boasts a chic sculpted design along with a new Intel Atom N550 dual core processor. But is it worth the extra cash?

Measuring 275 x 187.5 x 30.9mm and boasting a 10.1-inch screen, the HF210 is pretty much standard size for netbook so it's good for carrying around all day. Weighing in at 1.25kg, it's certainly not the lightest model around, but it shouldn't put too much strain on your bag straps and the weight does give it a durable feel. The glossy ivory finish that covers the top of the laptop is a nice touch, even if the same shade of plastic on the underside looks a little cheap. A gleaming, silver Samsung logo on the top helps to convey a premium look. The distinctive curved profile makes the product stand out from the crowd, while opening up the lid reveals one of the most elegant designs we've seen on a netbook. A brushed aluminium panel houses the trackpad, which although a little on the small side, is perfectly responsive and just smooth enough to be able to glide around effortlessly while still offering enough resistance for accurate navigation.

The island-type keyboard is also impressive, with is responsive operation and satisfyingly solid keys. The fact that the keys are a little on the small size means that there's a decent sized gap between them, giving the illusion of more space. We got used to the keys very quickly leading to some very snappy typing speeds.

The 10.1-inch LCD screen is LED-backlit meaning that is uses less power and is also easier to see when viewing in bright daylight. The reasonably standard 1,024 x 600-pixel resolution offers a clear picture, although the use of a matte screen (rather than a glossy one) means that the colours are slightly less punchy than on other netbooks.

On the left-hand edge of the netbook you'll find the power input along with a VGA port, a USB port and connections for a microphone and headphones. The opposite side of the machine reveals two more USB ports along with a multi-format memory card slot, and an Ethernet port. The only slight suprise is the decision not to include an HDMI port for hooking up to a high-def TV. Along with Wi-Fi capability (802.11 b/g/n), the device also offers Bluetooth 3.0 so it's reasonably future-proofed in terms of connectivity.

The NF210 comes pre-loaded with the Windows 7 Starter pack and also boasts an industry-standard 250GB hard disk, along with 1GB of RAM. However, the big draw for the NF210 is the inclusion of the new dual-core N550 Intel Atom processor (running at 1.5GHz). In theory, the extra core should give a noticeable boost to the netbook's overall processing performance and speed. We certainly found operation to be pretty zippy most of the time, although it did get a little sluggish when faced with streaming high-def videos.

Offering a total output of 3W of power, the NF210's speakers produce surprisingly good audio quality. Although the sound does inevitably sound a little harsh when the volume is turned up, the speakers actually sound a lot better than those on many larger and more expensive laptops. The quality is good both on music and video and also when video calling, using the built-in web cam.

One of the most important considerations for a netbook is battery life as there's no point making a device than be carried around all day if the battery can't keep up. The NF210's 6-Cell battery sticks out slightly on the underside of the netbook, putting slight dampener on the slick aesthetics, but does it do the job? We found that the juice kept going for a good portion of the day and while it's not the best battery life we've experienced on a netbook, it's certainly above average.

Verdict

There's no denying that the NF210 is a very nice netbook indeed. The slick design goes some way towards justifying the slightly high price tag, as does the satisfyingly comfortable keyboard and the zippy dual-core processor. If price is the most important consideration, then you can probably find a comparable model for less money. However, it you can afford the NF210, then you're unlikely to be disappointed, presuming that you aren't bothered about the lack of an HDMI port.