Samsung N350 review
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.
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.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||264 x 188.9 x 21.7mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N550|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,024|
|Resolution screen vertical||600|
|Resolution||1024 x 600|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 3150|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical disc technology||None|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|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|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
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|