Samsung NC-10: just not tough enough for school
So far, we have 40 Samsung NC-10 netbooks deployed in the school; some running Vista, and some running the Windows 7 RC. They’ve all been upgraded to 2GB of RAM and are joined to the domain. They are running pretty well, but in the last week we’ve been finding some problems.
Basically, these machines are just not bloody tough enough. We’ve previously used nothing but Dell laptops, and despite our relatively well-behaved students, they do take a bit of a bashing. After only a month, the Samsungs are not faring well, and 3 are already out of action.
Casualty #1: a keyboard. The NC-10 gets a lot of press for it’s “silver nano” coated keyboard that is supposedly bacteria-resistant. It also features one of the largest key sizes of any netbook, which is an advantage. The thing with keyboards is that that, in our school at least, kids love picking the keys off. I suppose I should be thankful that it’s the only deliberate vandalism our kit suffers; many schools have to put up with worse. On our Dell machines, the keys pop right back on. On the Samsungs, the flimsy key hinges break almost immediately, so the keys can’t be refitted. That means it’s new keyboard time.
Casualty #2: one of the newer NC-10s has developed an LCD fault after only two weeks. Here’s a video of what happens:
In addition to the flicker you can see, the whole screen image shakes, but you can’t see that here due to the piss-poor camerawork of yours truly.
Casualty #3: the power button on one has become permanently depressed. I can understand being depressed if you are stuck in a school 24-7, but the button being stuck down makes it inconvenient to use. As far as we can tell it hasn’t been bashed, as there’s no denting or scuffing. I’ve never been impressed with the power buttons on the NC-10; they just never felt solid, and now I’ve been proved right.
To Samsung’s credit, they are fixing #2 and #3 under warranty, though it means we’ll be without those machines for the best part of a week while the shipping boxes are sent to us, and we then wait for the 3-business-day repair turnaround. #1 is likely to prove expensive for us once it happens to more of them, and teachers never have the time to check the machines at the end of their lessons (most don’t even leave enough time to shut them down).
Overall, this week has left me unimpressed. Netbooks are not the toughest laptops out there, but this is a machine that is designed to be mobile and portable. It’s expected that you carry it around with a lot. Most of ours only travel between the science prep rooms and the classrooms next door, while the rest move around the site in foam-padded flight cases (of which Bond is particularly proud). That the NC-10 is not up to the challenge even for a month is frankly disappointing. I’ll be thinking very hard before buying them again.