I liked my little Samsung NC10. Bought just before Christmas 2008, it was mostly everything the reviews said it would be: small, reasonably powerful, reasonably easy to use, good battery life, and most importantly cheap – especially as I managed to get mine for £250 from Amazon, at a time when the RRP was about 50 quid more.
It lasted until a whole week after the warranty expired before dying on me. The reason for its untimely demise? Bad Lid Design (probably).
From time to time, pressure on the right (or wrong) part of the lid would shut the machine off instantly. Then the webcam stopped working. As the warranty had expired I took the lid to bits to see what was wrong. You can dismantle an NC10 quite easily following the instructions here: http://netbookmag.com/2009/02/03/tutorial-samsung-nc10-touchscreen-installation/
In short, remove the four rubber stoppers from the corners of the lid, by the screen; unscrew the screws you find underneath; then use a credit card or similar non-scratchy implement to slide around the edges of the lid, and the front bezel will come off. Undo the screws holding the screen to the metal hinges at the bottom, and the LCD panel comes off.
By dismantling it to this extent and playing with the cables behind the screen (on battery power, of course) it became clear that the shut-down problem, and almost certainly the webcam problem too, was caused by a short in the cables and/or the LCD screen connector. Basically the lid is too flexible and the cables and connector too easy to “manipulate” from the outside by inadvertent pressure on the lid of the machine. I.e., Bad Lid Design.
I mantled the lid back up again and the problem remained. Two days later the machine developed a new problem, which is basically Netbook Death: it refused to boot.
This time I dismantled the whole thing, checked all the motherboard connections, re-checked the LCD connections, reassembled… no joy. I can get the power LCD to flicker on, but then it flickers off and no boot process begins.
I managed to buy a replacement LCD cable from eBay: with this in place, the machine will power on and start POSTing for a couple of seconds: the moment the drive light comes on (ie when disk access begins) it shuts off and won’t reboot until power is removed and reapplied.
The machine is dead. Most laptop repair places charge a minimum of £75 to investigate the problem, it seems to me. As replacement screens cost about the same, and replacement motherboards even more, and the minimum cost doesn’t usually include labour, there’s little point having it repaired. Why fix a £250 netbook for around £150 when you can buy a new one and get another year’s warranty?
I’m just not sure I’d buy a Samsung again… Bad Lid Design (probably) ruins the brand for me.