The Samsung NS310's Atom N550 processor provides the netbook with 1.5GHz of dual-core power. But, as our productivity benchmark shows, it doesn't go all that far. Scoring just 1511 in our PCMark Vantage test, which assesses the power of computers in a host of real-world style situations, the capabilities of this computer are distinctly limited.
It'll handle basic productivity tasks, but just doesn't have the grunt for intensive image processing, video editing or gaming. The graphics chip inside is an Intel GMA3150, which isn't worth posting on Twitter, let alone writing home about. In the relatively non-taxing Trackmania Nations benchmark gaming test, the NS310 achieved a paltry 8fps. This will play Farmville, but that's about it. It doesn't have enough power to trot out World of Warcraft at a decent speed, for example.
It does, however, have enough power to play 1080p MKV files without a hitch. The Samsung NS310 breezed through our high bit-rate test, playing back Blu-ray quality content without dropped frames - although it failed to render the top 42mbps clip. It also handles YouTube HD 1080p content without a problem. To get better performance in a netbook form factor, you'll need to check out AMD's new Fusion chip or an older AMD C-50-powered unit - but these are available for £279.99 or less.
Battery life when playing video is poor, though. Plenty of netbooks these days give eight hours use or more off a charge, but this one lasted just 2 hours 59 minutes when playing an SD DivX file at 50 per cent brightness. If you want a netbook you can use all day away from the power socket, this isn't it. This seems an unfortunate stumbling point when several cheaper Samsung netbooks, such as the NC10 and NF110, offer great stamina.
The Samsung NS310 isn't without its positive points, but the negatives outweigh them. It's light and portable, but limited battery life makes it less practical than an 8-hour model. The keyboard is good, but it's inherently limited by its size, while the price means you can buy a slightly larger ultraportable laptop for not much more money - if you shop around a bit. Within the netbook space, the Toshiba NB550D is a much better bet if you haven't already fallen in love with that glossy red case. It offers more power and a full HDMI output, and doesn't cost a penny more.
Samsung's NS310 gets some things right. The keyboard is good and its backlight remains a rare feature in the netbook world. However, it fails in one too many core respects. Battery life is poor, the Atom-powered processor doesn't excel above much cheaper models and the price is just too high for us to stomach.