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Netbook charges via built-in solar panel

Jun 20, 2011 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Samsung announced a netbook with a built-in solar panel and 14.5-hour battery life. The NC215S also offers hybrid fast start technology, the ability to charge portable devices even when it's turned off, a choice of Atom processors, and a 250GB or 320GB hard disk drive.

Every now and then a Windowsy netbook comes along that we figure is novel enough to inspire a Linux lover to eat the Microsoft tax and load their favorite Linux distro. The solar-powered NC215S just might fit the bill, especially for those who work — or play - outdoors, far from a power outlet.

While some observers consider the netbook form factor passe, Samsung is leveraging the clamshell design to provide something new: a built-in solar panel. According to the company, the NC215S' solar cells provide one hour of work for each two hours of recharging in the sun. (Now that's a work/rest ratio we could really get behind on this hot summer day!)

Samsung's NC215S has a solar panel in its lid

The netbook isn't totally dependent on solar power, because it also comes with a six-cell battery that, Samsung claims, can provide up to 14.5 hours of operation. It's also said the unit's three USB 2.0 ports can recharge devices such as phones or MP3 players even when the netbook is sleeping or turned off.

Samsung adds that sun-worshippers will be able to read the NC215S' display outdoors while they and the laptop catch some rays. The device features both a 300-nit brightness rating and an anti-reflective coating, according to the company.

Perhaps because the solar panel already drives up cost, Samsung has not chosen to reduce power consumption by adopting a solid state disk drive. The NC215S instead comes with a 2.5-inch, 5400rpm hard disk drive, offered in 250GB and 320GB capacities.

However, the company does tout an "innovative hybrid sleep mode" it calls Samsung Fast Start. Allowing the user to begin working just seconds after the lid is opened or a button is pressed, this is said to combine the fast starts of sleep mode with the stability and power savings of hibernation.

The other features on the 2.86-pound NC215S are more typical, including a choice of Atom processors (the dual-core N570 or single-core N455, 1GB of RAM (presumably expandable to 2GB), and a 10.1-inch screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. A webcam appears to be fitted but was not detailed, while ports include not only USB but also VGA and gigabit Ethernet.

Samsung's release did not mention any wireless networking capabilities, though we expect them to have been included. The NC215S is equipped with Windows 7 Starter Edition, according to the company.

Specifications listed for Samsung's NC215S include:

  • Processor — single-core Atom N455 or dual-core N570 (both @1.66GHz)
  • Chipset — Intel NM10
  • Memory — 1GB of DDR3 RAM (expandability not cited)
  • Display — 10.1-inch screen with 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and anti-reflective coating; solar panel on back
  • Storage — 250GB or 320GB hard disk drive
  • Expansion — SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC slot
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 3 x USB 2.0 with sleep-and-charge functionality
    • VGA
    • audio — headphone jack, microphone input
  • Battery — six-cell
  • Dimensions — 10.19 x 7.06 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight — 2.86 pounds

Further information

So far, the NC215S appears to have been announced only in Russia. It will appear there in early August for 13,999 rubles (about $500), according to Samsung.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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