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Samsung N350 review

We review Samsung's latest dual-core netbook to see if it's worth buying.

The keyboard is large and responsive enough for comfortable typing with minimal typos. However, a few of the keys are smaller than the others, including the all-important cursor and @ keys, so they're a bit trickier to press when touch typing than the others. The touchpad is small, but accurate. We weren't fond of the pivoting touchpad button though, which is very small and doesn't give enough feedback when pressed.

Like most other netbooks, the N350's 10.1in screen has a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels which is high enough for web browsing and basic office work. It has a matt finish which adds a grainy sheen to images, but it does have the advantage of not being very reflective, which minimises glare from overhead lighting. The screen isn't as bright as we'd like, especially when brightness is reduced to conserve battery life. It's by no means illegibly dark, but we've seen brighter laptop screens so it's a shame that the N350 is a let down here.

The N350 is one of the first computers we've seen with a SDXC memory card slot so one could plug in memory cards up to 32GB in size. Few digital cameras and video cameras currently use SDXC cards, but it's still a useful capability to have for the future. Another unusual built-in connection technology is Bluetooth 3.0 which is theoretically much faster than previous versions of the short range wireless technology, but few peripherals currently support it.

As with all new netbooks, the N350 comes with Windows 7 Starter pre-installed on its 250GB hard disk. It's good enough for the basic tasks we'd expect a netbook to be used for, but it does have its limitations not present in other Windows versions. It doesn't have any of the more advanced, business features of Windows 7 Professional such as encryption or the Windows XP Virtualisation Mode.

When a second display is connected to the VGA port you can only mirror the contents of the N350's screen onto the external display, not show more windows. The resolution of the second display is also artificially limited to 1,440x1,050 pixels no matter what its actual resolution. These issues affect the usefulness of the N350 for giving PowerPoint presentations.

Verdict

The Samsung N350 is by no means a bad netbook. It's attractive and slender with a comfortable keyboard, but compared to the competition, its dual core processor isn't much faster and its battery life is disappointing. The older N230 has far longer battery life making it the better netbook for most.

Processor: Intel Atom N550, 1.5GHz

Memory: 1GB 533MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: Intel GMA 3150

Hard disk: 250GB hard disk

Display: 10.1in 1,024 x 600 pixels, LED-backlit screen

Features: 0.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet, Bluetooth 3.0

Ports: 3 x USB2, VGA output, 3.5mm headphone and microphone audio sockets

Dimensions: 265x186x25mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 1.05kg

Warranty: 1yr C&R warranty

OS: Windows 7 Starter

Part code: NP-N350-JA03UK

BENCHMARK SCORES

Video 20

Image 18

Multiple apps 12

Overall 17

Battery, heavy usage 3h08m

Battery, light usage 5h02m

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