At first sight, the white Samsung NC20, available for around £390, looks more like an ultra-portable than a netbook, an impression reinforced by its elegant exterior, size and weight. With a 12.1-inch screen and weighing in at 1.5kg without a power supply, the NC20 is significantly larger and heavier than standard netbooks with 9- or 10-inch displays.
The NC20 also excels in areas where most netbooks fall down -- notably, performance and screen resolution. Most netbook makers base their systems on Intel's Atom processor, but Samsung has used Via's Nano U2250, which runs at '1.3+GHz' -- the '+' signifies that the CPU has more to offer than its nominal clock speed suggests.
The Nano uses what Via calls 'adaptive overclocking' technology, whereby the clock speed of the processor is automatically increased within certain temperature limits. This technology allows for a maximum clock speed of 1.6GHz in the U2250, but the NC20's cooling system caps the maximum frequency at 1.5GHz.
Because the Nano processor is new, and because Samsung is the first manufacturer to use it in a mobile device, this review partly focuses on performance differences between the Intel Atom and the Via Nano. For comparison purposes, we have used an LG Netbook X110, equipped with a 1.6GHz Atom N270.
SunSpider isn't the only benchmark where Intel's Atom comes off badly. Google's V8 test also makes the Atom look sluggish.