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Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook review

Andy Vandervell



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Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • Samsung N310 - 10.2in Netbook
  • N310 25.7 cm 10.1" LED Netbook - Atom N270 1.60 GHz - Mint Blue (1024 x 600 WSVGA Display - 1 GB RAM - 160 GB HDD - Intel Graphic Media Accelerator 950 - Bluetooth - Webcam - Windows XP Home)


Our Score:


Once upon a time Samsung had just one netbook, the NC10. And it was good. In fact, it was the best. Now, however, clearly drunk on its success, Samsung has three different models. First there was the N110: a relatively minor NC10 refresh. This was followed by the N120: a larger system with an 'improved' keyboard and a largely superfluous 2.1 speaker system. Now, we have the N310: a funky soap bar-like effort that, aside from its design and price, is just like any other netbook.

Just in case you've been living under a rock this means an Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive - we've got all these details on copy paste these days. Other staples include the 1.3-megapixel webcam, Bluetooth and 802.11g Wi-Fi, not to mention the 1,024 x 600, 10.2in display. Beyond all this there's basically nothing to report aside from noting it uses Windows XP, which is hardly news these days.

Connectivity is also entirely unremarkable. There are headphone and microphone jacks, three USB ports, a memory card reader, a VGA out and an Ethernet port. Indeed, the only noteworthy point here is that the Ethernet port and VGA ports are both covered - the former with a flap, the latter with a rubber sheath.

This just leaves the design justifying that £375 or so asking price. This puts the N310 up against the likes of the Asus Eee PC 1008HA that, much against our prior expectations, we rather liked. However, while Asus went the thin and light route, Samsung has gone for something entirely different. It has made a bar of soap.

Yet, as wrong as this might sound, the N310 is a rather funky looking thing. Not something that'll appeal to everyone's taste's mind, but the striking blue finish of our version definitely catches the eye. And, if blue isn't to your taste, orange and black versions are available, too. We also rather like the shape of N310. Its symmetrical curves and uninterrupted lines are very pleasing and we even like the slightly idiosyncratic Samsung lettering on the lid.

Perhaps most likely to please, though, is the durability of this design. On the outside not an inch of glossy plastic is to be found, with the entirety of the casing made from a tactile soft-touch plastic that's exceedingly durable. It's all very reassuring, making this the ideal netbook for kids who like to treat their toys a little roughly.


June 11, 2009, 6:17 am

I think calling it exceeding durable might have been going a bit far, with a normal hard drive instead of an SSD and a glossy screen and plastic inside it's obviously more pretentious than practical in that respect and if you actually do start throwing it around it might not stand up much better than a normal netbook.

Still, I suppose it's a consolation prize for all those iBook users Apple has now rejected with the launch of Snow Leopard.


June 11, 2009, 9:48 am

Interesting price creep

NC10 = £299.99 ( all inc VAT BTW)

N110 = £349.99

N120 = £356.97

N310 = £376.17

Now there's added value! (25%+ increase in price) for how much real benefit. Seems more design over substance here, I'm sticking with the NC10


June 11, 2009, 1:21 pm

good going. now, make a 13 inch laptop version, with hdmi and a geforce 9400m. that might just be the laptop of the year :)


June 11, 2009, 2:57 pm

With Microsoft limiting the spec of what can be allowed in a netbook I guess manufacturers have to resort to tarting up the same old stuff in order to attempt to add value.

The main attraction of the original netbooks was that they were small and CHEAP. Whilst they are aimed at different segments of the market when you can get a normal laptop with a Core2 duo, 2GB memory, 160GB hdd, DVDRW, Vista (alas) Home Premium etc for less its hard to see the value in a netbook costing £376.


June 11, 2009, 3:25 pm

In fairness, this is a REALLY nice device in the flesh. It doesn't excuse the price per se (especially as the battery life is so poor) but it is definitely a cut above the rest.


June 11, 2009, 3:45 pm

£200 is the sweet spot; less than that is a bonus. Paying north of £350 is just ridiculous. Don't they know there's a recession?


June 11, 2009, 4:01 pm

Shame about the battery life, and the odd inclusion of the N270 rather than the N280 (although I imagine this makes a marginal difference to performance, if anything). I'd rather have the Asus 1008 I think.

Andy Vandervell

June 11, 2009, 4:08 pm

I'd say sub-£300 is the sweetspot for me. For that you should be able to get something with decent battery life. As the N270 vs the N280, subjectively there's sod all difference in performance.


June 11, 2009, 7:56 pm

True, although it's always nicer to have the newer one when possible! I too would like to find a nicely designed sub-£300 netbook with good battery life. I don't even particularly want one with Windows, I quite like playing with the various Linux distributions (and Moblin-based versions look very promising) and they all come with HDDs whereas I'd prefer a small-but-quick SSD. Doesn't seem to actually be one that caters for that though; the closest thing is the Dell Mini 10v but the screen resolution is less than the norm, which is disappointing.

Seems like the netbook manufacturers are focusing so much on the higher-end models that they've lost site of the lower end of the market. Shame really.


June 12, 2009, 3:08 am

I bought the NC10 because of how highly you guys rated it and I love the thing, but I'm confused by what Samsung has done since then. They got it right the first time and since have screwed it up. Switching to glossy screens is a huge mistake in my opinion. I HATE glossy screens with a passion, I want a screen I can look at in various levels of lighting. And the battery life on this model seems awfully low for a netbook. I mean my NC10 gets 6-8 hours easily with the brightness turned down a little (still highly usable). Until I see a dual core netbook with an anti-glare screen and good battery life I'll just stick with my NC10.


June 12, 2009, 2:32 pm

The N310 only has a 4cell battery which is why the battery life is not a long as the NC10 which has a 6 cell.

The N310 was designed by a famous designer in Korea: Nato Fukasawa.. so it's a good for him that TR gave the design a 9 out of 10 ;)

Jose E. Tan

August 20, 2009, 7:34 pm

Got an orange (more red actually) "refreshed" version of the N310 today here in Hong Kong for approx £370...refreshed features include a 6 cell battery (8+ hours usage), wireless b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 and an Atom N280 1.66Ghz processor...included in the price was an upgrade to 2G RAM.

BTW, the designer Naoto Fukasawa is Japanese, not Korean.

Halarpo Hala

October 27, 2009, 12:51 pm

confusing mish mash of model numbers


October 29, 2009, 11:56 pm

What is a 'refreshed' version, Jose? Is it available in the UK? I like the look of this, but its short battery life is a little offputting. Does anyone know how much a spare battery costs, or is it possible to buy a 6-cell battery separately? Thanks.

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