Hacking the Samsung NC10

One of the real reasons I wanted a netbook was to be able to play around a bit with some things I would not normally get to do on a daily machine.  A key goal is to get OSX installed and running so I’ve got a netbook hackintosh system going.  So far I do actually have OSX installed and running along with Windows 7 and XP though the standard hardware inside the Samsung NC10 does not have any network drivers within OSX.  I knew this going in and thought it would only add to the fun of toying around with this system.

Tonight I remembered that I had a spare Airport Extreme in the house and thinking the card inside might work in the NC10 I ran to get it along with some tools …

01/10/2009 - Samsung NC10 dissection

The Airport Extreme open and card removed …

I then took the back case off the NC10 to get to the good stuff …

 01/10/2009 - Samsung NC10 dissection

Unfortunately it was pretty obvious right away that the card was quite a bit larger than the internal space available so I’ll have to try again with a known working option. 

01/10/2009 - Samsung NC10 dissection

This was a fun project while everyone else in the house was sleeping.  Hopefully I’ll be able to report back soon enough after a successful transplant. 

The ultimate netbook?

I was quite pleased to see Sascha show his NC10 and confirm my own purchase decision.  Seems he agrees that the Samsung NC10 remains the current king and that battery and keyboard are the two features which strongly contribute to a solid mobile experience.  I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to be conservative with my use or consider when I’ll next top up with this computer which truly is a first for me.

This video from Scoble is a great capture of a conversation on Netbooks, Vista, XP licensing and the Sony Vaio P – well worth the 10 minutes.

I’ve gone Netbook

So I finally went netbook and got the Samsung NC10 which I am seriously loving after just a few days.  The amount of power that’s packed into such a small package is really quite amazing.  While the netbook category tends to be viewed as a cheap alternative, it’s really quite a bit more than that. The reduction in size affords an enhanced degree of mobility and I don’t feel I’m making much a sacrifice in order to get there … in fact I feel like it’s actually rather something of the opposite.

Over the past year I scaled my work laptop from a 15″ to a 13″ Lenovo X61 and the weight was a huge break on my shoulder and back.  The smaller machine runs about 3.5 pounds with the larger battery which also offered a longer range (~4hours) than what I found in the previous (T61) machine.   This small system has been serving me well.  The X61 does offer a weaker video card and which can’t play some of the videos we tend to embed in powerpoint for presentations.  Until the NC10, the X61 offered the longest unplugged time of any laptop I’ve used.  I know there are newer Lenovo systems that offer better specs but I don’t have any current ability to request an upgrade.

The NC10 on the other hand is my personal system.  I chose it compared to other netbooks based on the build quality, larger keyboard (93%) and 6-cell battery which allegedy can deliver close to 8 hours of battery life.  I gave the system it’s first real unplugged test this week and am very happy to report that the battery easily went through a day of meetings which started before 9:30 and lasted until 4pm.  There was roughly 30% left on the battery at that point which could have lasted about another hour according to the meter.  I was connected to wifi the whole day except during lunch when I left it on standby in our conference room.  That’s 6 and a half hours!!  With another hour to go it looks like 8 hours is actually a doable number.  I was running XP and the Samsung has a an custom power management application which is part of their standard install.  My screen was between 2 and 3 degress of 8 on the brightness scale.  The screen actually gets quite bright but is definitely not required for a day of work.

One thing I’ve immediately noticed about the NC10 is that the smaller size does not in any way feel cramped.  Swapping the Samsung NC10 into my bag for the first time I was very pleased to note the weight (~ half a pound) reduction on my shoulder.  While the 10″ screen is the current upper end of the netbook size range, it’s hardly massive and I felt worthwhile for the close to full-size keyboard as well as the potential for eye strain on the smaller system.

I’m going to upgrade the RAM to 2GB from the 1 that comes standard and may eventually consider an SSD hard drive over the 160GB one that comes standard as I think I could make do with less storage once I sort what OS I plan to run.  I’m currently triple booting the system between Windows 7, XP and OSX.  I’ll have some more to discuss on that shortly as well.  The trackpad does take a bit to get used to though I think that may actually be more of a personal thing as I’ve been trackpoint only on the X61.  The trackpad is shorter but wide so a bit of finesse and you can easily handle it.  Typing this on an airplane tray table is quite comfortable and fortunately the guy in front of me has not reclinced (coach on Finair).  Overall this machine is really quite remarkable.  I’m loving the
access, responsiveness and really can’t think of anything negative
about it.  I know it’s a bit more than quite a few netbooks out there, but even after paging through the CES announcements I’m not feeling like anything really beats the range I’ve got.

I’ll have to see how far I can push my use into regular business life.  I’ve yet to install any office suite so some attachments — powerpoint in particular are impossible to review or edit.  At least google docs can easily handle word files.  I suppose I can always install office or open office if I feel compelled.

Android netbooks on their way? Not so fast …


A team at VentureBeat was able to get Android running on an Asus EEEPC 1000H netbook, which is certainly a cool hack.

I’m not sure this is something I would personally want in the current state other than as a proof of concept. Though once things are perhaps more optimized for a larger touch screen it might be cool on a MID.

Ok … so more one Netbook for consideration – The Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10-14GW netbook

So I’ve had some great comments and discussion since yesterday’s post on finding my likely netbook (the MSI Wind) and it seems the Samsung NC10 is clearly worth a serious look as well.

For starters it offers a considerably larger keyboard (93% vs. 80%) and battery life is well over 6 hours … possibly closer to 8 through conservation. Both of these features are well worth a pause over the Wind and believe me, I’ve spent some time researching again today. What I think is really driving me though is the option for a SIM slot. Apparently, the Samsung NC10 has a SIM slot hiding behind the battery (a 6-cell comes standard) though it’s unclear so far if the current model actually has a modem inside. The modem / SIM combo is what initially drew my attention towards the HP Mininote, but it seems the MSI wins on a few counts there – for now anyway. Netbooks are hot and the competitive nature of the various companies is bringing new features and enhancements pretty rapidly.

Back to the Samsung… I need to confirm the SIM slot is functional of I’ll be waiting for the next rev to arrive — or will just wait it our for that updated MSI model. You can get an Acer at Radioshack now for as low as $99 if you are willing to sign up for a 2-year data plan with AT&T though I’m quite certain I can get data for less than $60/mo. The Acer did feel quite solid though – especially compared to the ASUS systems I saw recently at Best Buy.

I think I just found my netbook

MSI Wind U120

via jkkmobile of course!

This new MSI Wind U120 system sounds killer!

  • 10 inch 1024 x 600 screen
  • 1.6 GHz Intel® Atomâ„¢ with1GB RAM
  • 160GB HDD
  • Wifi b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.0edr
  • 3 x usb2
  • 4-in-1-card reader
  • 1.3Mpix cam with mic
  • 4400mAH 6 cell battery
  • XP Home

Of course I’m still more than capable of being swayed by a surprise from Apple if they feel up to it at MacWorld.