Samsung N350 review

7 Dec 2010

A little pricey and battery life is below par; not our favourite Samsung netbook

Price when reviewed: 
332(£332 inc VAT)
3

The market for netbooks has been at a standstill for some time now, but the emergence of a new range of dual-core Atom chips has recently stirred manufacturers into action.

Samsung's N350 is one of this new breed, but initially you'd struggle to tell the difference. It has a shiny slate-grey chassis with a largely plain black interior, and while it isn't offensive, it lacks the pizzazz of the Toshiba NB520. The rest of the design is nicely understated, though, and impressively svelte. With dimensions of 264 x 189 x 22mm (WDH) and a weight of just over a kilo, the Samsung's no porker.

It's comfortable to use too. The Scrabble-tile keyboard feels sturdy, and the trackpad is responsive too. There are two separate buttons beneath the trackpad that make a nice change from the ubiquitous one-piece rocker-style button. General build quality is good, too, although we'd prefer slightly stronger screen protection.

Samsung N350

That aside, the 1,024 x 600 10.1in display performs well: colours are largely accurate and it offers as much sharpness as can be expected from a netbook display. More beneficial from a business perspective is the matte coating, which cuts glare and irritating reflections.

Inside, that dual-core 1.5GHz Atom N550 is backed up by 1GB of DDR3 memory, and as with the other dual-core netbooks we've tested so far, it doesn't appear to offer much advantage over the single-core Atom, with a score of 0.35 in our benchmarks. The new dual-core processor does at least make Windows 7 feel a little snappier in use.

More concerning, however, is the N350's battery life. The model we tested came with a three-cell, 2,950mAh battery - and it showed. In our light-use test with no applications running, brightness at medium, and wireless switched off, the N350 managed 5hrs 46mins to the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM's, 8hrs 20mins.

If this were a budget netbook we might be able to forgive the sub-par battery life, but at £332 inc VAT it's on the pricier side of average. Instead, we'd recommend plumping for an older netbook such as the A-Listed Asus Eee PC 1001P, which offers similar performance in a much more stylish and wallet-friendly package.

Details

Price ex VAT £283
Price inc VAT £332
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 264 x 188.9 x 21.7mm (WDH)
Weight 1.054kg
Travelling weight 1,350.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N550
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 3150
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1

Drives

Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Hard disk Hitachi
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive None
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
USB ports (downstream) 3
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 46min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 48min
Overall application benchmark score 0.35
Office application benchmark score 0.28
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.40
Encoding application benchmark score 0.31
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.42
3D performance (crysis) low settings Fail

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
OS family Windows 7