Samsung NC10 Field Test – Part 3: Head to Head with ASUS

samsungandasusPick your favorite metaphor because it’s time for a dance off,  showdown, deathmatch, taste test, point/counterpoint between the Samsung NC10 and the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE. Find out who gets served and who stays standing at high noon. Who will be fragged to giblets. Which PC has the richest, mountain grown flavor, and which is the ignorant slut.

These are the two leading netbooks in their class. Both contenders are decked out in similar specs regarding screen size, amount of RAM (1 GB) and hard drive space (160 GB). They have the same processor although the Samsung CPU runs at an imperceptible 0.06 GHz faster.

Round 1 – Size and weight
If thin is in, then Samsung wins on style points. The sleeker look, the chrome detailing and the front grill all add up to a more stylish approach than ASUS. The ASUS is a bit bulkier than the Samsung by fractions of inches, but it is noticeable. This makes it a tad heavier than Sammy, 3.2 lbs compared to 2.8lbs, but for these lightweights it is hard to notice a difference.

samsungRound 2 –  Screen
The casual observer may not notice that both netbooks sport the same screen size and resolution; 10.2 inches at 1024 by 600. The ASUS screen sits a bit higher when open. This is due in part to the overall larger size, but the hinge mechanism plays a part as well. It doesn’t effect the usability. It is more of an aesthetic difference.

Samsung is the winner in this round thanks to its brightness. Both screens are fantastic with sharp, well defined images and rich color. The refresh rates seem to be the same, as both demonstrated the same amount of occasional screen tearing when playing web videos. The only difference  we could find was that Samsung can be cranked up brighter, I am estimating 15 to 20 percent brighter. It is very noticeable. Nothing comes free and I imagine this price is paid back with shorter battery life when burning brightest. But having the option to turn Sam’s screen up to 11 makes it the easy winner in this tightly contended category.

asusRound 3 – QWERTYing
As I researched my first netbook purchase, I spent hands-on time with almost all of the brands available at the time. It was the quality of these two keyboards that narrowed my final purchace decision down to these two models.

Typing is as good as it is different on both machines. Both keyboards are large enough for comfortable typing. Samsung claims their keyboard is 93% size of a standard keyboard, ASUS claims 92%. Neither feel cramped when typing. Some netbooks present a learning curve for skilled typists who have to somewhat relearn key positions and reaches. This is not an issue with ASUS or Samsung.

The ASUS “chicklet” keyboard solid and responsive. It also has a more modern feel than the beveled keys of the Samsung which seem a slightly old school. But don’t dis the Samsung for this esthetic shortcoming. Sam’s keys fell just as solid and offer reassuring tactile and audio feedback. The ASUS keyboard may be a tad quieter when typing which some users may prefer.

This category is a tie to be decided by personal preference. Just be reassured to know that you can’t go wrong with either choice.

Round 4 –  Build quality
Another tie. Both units are sturdily constructed. They feel solid enough to throw place into a backpack. The solid build along with the light weight and low price is what make netbooks so appealing.

trackpadsRound 5 – Mousing
ASUS is the standout winner here. The larger trackpad feels huge when compared to Samsung’s. This is the main advantage of the larger form factor. The edge-on buttons are well designed and easily accessible.

I have written before about Sammy’s trackpad issues, so no need to repeat is here. Just note that ASUS does not have the edge of pad issues that the Samsung suffers from, nor does it have a clumsy recessed toggle button. ASUS’s rodent replacement takes the cheese in this category.

Round 6 – Sound
Audiophiles look elsewhere. No netbook I tested had what could be described as great sound, but under normal conditions all were adequate for typical usage. The ASUS inches ahead here with smarter speaker placement. The speakers appear louder than the Samsung because they are where they should be; pointed at the listener.

Samsung chose to place the speakers on the bottom of the unit, pointed downward. In theory, the sound should bounce off the table top back to the users ears. It does this to some degree when placed on a flat table top, but I seldom find myself using it in these ideal-for-audio circumstances. I did not have an opportunity to compare the headphone jack output, but I will have a full report on Samsungs audio quality pros and cons in Part 4 of this series.

Round 7 – Price
The most basic components, the processor, RAM, motherboard and hard drive, are identical. So all that Samsung NC10 style and design come at a cos, about about $70 more than the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE.

Conclusion – The real winer
There you have it. Both units have their strengths and weaknesses, but the real winner is … You. You just can’t go wrong with either choice. I can’t honestly recommend one over the other.

For me, the cool stylings of the Samsung along with the brighter screen won me over. But the lower cost, louder audio and better trackpad of the ASUS are a compelling argument. My best advice is to lay hands on both and see what strikes you. When you make your decision, please write to me here and let me know what influenced you.

Previous Field Test articles in this series include Part 1 – Coffee Shop, and Part 2 – Back Yard.

As president of Tracy Evans Productions, Inc. for over 18 years Tracy splits his time between being an animator, director, producer, stage magician, graphic designer, art director, programmer, editor, consultant, speaker and writer of third-person autobiographical blurbs.

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