Samsung’s outlandish electric blue NS310 netbook offers a 10.1″ screen and a 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 processor under the hood, along with a slightly meagre 1GB of RAM. It sells for $450. It’s a refreshing change from brushed metal gray or black surfaces. Sporty or kitsch? You could always settle for the purple Samsung NC110 netbook. This blue shocker weighs 1.3kg.
Inside is the familiar matte black, where the keyboard’s island-style keys are a bit small for speedy typing. On the other hand, the trackpad is normal-sized for a netbook, and is lightly textured for accurate cursor control. Multitouch gestures are not enabled, however. And there’s a single trackpad instead of a pair of separate buttons.
The 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution display provides only average brightness and contrast. Sadly, there is no HDMI port on the NS310, so this netbook can’t be connected to a full-sized display.
In benchmarks the Samsung NS310 achieves scores which are average for a netbook, but performance is greatly improved with an extra stick of RAM, giving extra grunt for multi-tabbed browsing and suchlike. Browsing in general is acceptable with the NS310 but demanding programs like Photoshop run a bit too slowly. Actually performance is comparable with the Toshiba NB500, with its faster processor, and the Toshiba costs $150 or so less, making the NB550 a better deal, purely on processing power.
Current games are unplayable on the NS310, so users will have to seek out oldish games from around 2006 or so, although there were a few excellent games around that time, such as Delta Force or Pro Evo Soccer 6. You might need an external DVD drive to load them, though…but it’s well worth the effort to bolster your netbook’s entertainment palette. Perhaps a good old Sonic the Hedgehog compilation can brighten up a dull hour here or there. Really this netbook is overpriced at $450. Anyone looking for a 10-incher pays for the extra portability in performance, and we would advise them to take a long hard look at the Toshiba NB550 instead.
Our punishing flat-out processor test gave 2 hrs 18 mins of battery life, where the Toshiba NB550 offers 4 hrs 23 mins. Moderate use will take that beyond four and a half hours, still a poor second to that NB550. For light document editing, the Samsung NS310 is good enough, but its main problem is that it doesn’t excel in any department. Anyone buying this overpriced netbook would be doing so because they love the design. Luckily for Samsung, you can’t put a price on that.
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