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First look at the Samsung N310 Netbook

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 6, 2010

5 min read

The following review of the Samsung N310 Netbook includes, in part, content I previously wrote for the nowwearetalking.com.au site, but I thought it relevant to resubmit an abridged (and updated) version as part of this product review. For those of you who may be suffering from déjà vu, my apologies. For the rest – please enjoy!
What exactly is a Netbook – and what distinguishes it from a Notebook or Laptop? Notebooks and laptops are fairly similar. Both terms relate to the larger portable computers (as opposed to a traditional “desktop”).

Why buy a netbook over a notebook? Price, weight, convenience are a few reasons that spring to mind. But before you make your buying decision, be sure you know what you are getting (or not, in some cases!).

Most netbooks in the market have the following characteristics:

  • Windows XP preinstalled
  • 10” screen
  • Minimum 3 Cell (preferably 4 Cell) batteries supporting approx 3.5hours (up to 5 hours) or more battery life – a must to support portability!
  • Affordable
  • 1GB Ram and at least 160GB hard drive
  • Keyboards at least 90% of a standard keyboard.
  • At least 2 USB ports
  • A choice of connectivity – Wired, Bluetooth, WiFi, and in some cases, embedded 3G.
  • Some preloaded (trial) software

What’s the benefit of a Netbook – and what do I miss out on?

Netbooks are a scaled down laptop or notebook, designed for lighter use than a notebook. They are great for accessing the internet and email, and when you travel – attach an external portable hard drive or USB stick and watch your favourite movies. Don’t expect them to be the machine you use for gaming or movie editing.

Does size really matter?

Sure it does – in this case. A reduced footprint means a smaller screen, smaller keyboards, no internal cd/dvd drive. Definitely try one out in a store before you buy – make sure the screen meets your needs and that you can successfully type on the keyboard.

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Introducing the Samsung N310

This week I had the opportunity to give the Samsung N310 Netbook a bit of a run. I can hear the questions already… Samsung make Netbooks? I thought they only made mobile phones, TVs and cameras. Not so – Samsung are a leading manufacturer of (amongst many other things) portable computers incorporating Laptops, Notebooks and Netbooks.

The N310 unites innovative style and technology with an exclusive design by Naoto Fukasawa – winner of more than 50 design awards in Europe and America.

With an embedded Next GTM wireless modem, the N310 gives you the opportunity to be truly mobile and still connected. Samsung is only the second supplier of Netbooks with an embedded Next GTM wireless modem to be ranged by Telstra.

A worldwide perspective

Display Search, a subsidiary of NPD Group, in their Q2’09 Quarterly Notebook PC Shipping and Forecast Report highlighted:

  • One in every 5 PCs will be a netbook by the end of 2009 (as we are about to farewell 2009 – it will be interesting to see how close their prediction was – my guess it is fairly accurate).
  • Number of netbook sales will double in 2009.
  • 16.4m netbooks were sold in 2008. An estimated 32.7m will be sold in 2009 (99% growth).

So what does this mean? Basically, remembering my distant school economics lessons on Supply and Demand theories, we the consumers will benefit greatly through reduced prices, enhanced features, and more choice.

A pleasant first experience

When you power up the Samsung N310 the screen displays the Telstra One Connection Manager. Not only does it step you though the first time setup of your wireless connection, it also gives you access to key Next GTM features including

BigPond Music, Yellow Online, WhereIs Maps etc.

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You get a choice of shortcuts and are also provided with an easy to follow, first time user guide.

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After completing the setup, your access to a range of Telstra online products starts with the green “Go” icon. One click and you are online.

Likes and dislikes

Likes

  • Portability/ Weight – at 1.23kg you can carry it wherever you go.
  • Screen – 10.1” WSVGA LED screen that’s great both indoors and outside.
  • Keyboard – 93% full size chicklette keyboard is a pleasure to type on. I especially like the space between the keys.
  • Connection Manager – The TelstraOne Connection Manager remains the best I have seen in over 20 years!
  • Flexibility – a choice of connection methods – wired, wireless and NextGTM.
  • Soft Carry Case –it won’t meet all your needs, but will definitely keep your Netbook looking good.
  • Speed– the embedded 7.2mpbs HSDPA modem keeps me connected around the globe
  • Trial software – preloaded Microsoft Windows 7 (includes Office, McAfee Internet Sercuirty 9.0, both with a 60 day trial. Purchase a key and you have full, ongoing access.)
  • 3-in-1 Multi Card Slot – supporting SD, SDHC, MMC.

Dislikes

  • Front Cover – I think the SAMSUNG name in big, bold letters across the top of the cover is a bit overdone. A slightly more subtle branding would do the job just as well.
  • Packaging – A very big box for a small device. Probably a candidate for a greener approach in packaging

The Verdict?

Netbooks are definitely here to stay. Samsung have a good, sturdy product in the N310, offering flexibility (for connection) and portability (only 1.23kg). Given their track record in producing quality mobile handsets over the years, the N310 is sure to be a product you will use and enjoy the experience.

Spec sheet

Name Samsung N310
Available Jan 2010
Network UMTS: 850/2100MHz
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
HSDPA 7.2 Mbps peak theoretical downlink speed (typical speeds 550kbps – 3Mbps)
Dimensions 262.0 (W) x 184.5 (D) x 28.0 (H) mm
Weight Ultra lightweight – 1.23kg
Screen 10.1” WSVGA Gloss LCD, 1024 x 600 pixels
Battery Time Up to 5 hours
Camera 1.3 megapixel Digital Motion webcam
Storage 2.5” 160GB HDD
Connectivity Bluetooth/ 802.11b/g WiFi/ Ethernet/ NextGTM
Keyboard 93% standard size keyboard with ‘chicklette” keys
Software Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Preloaded, Adobe Reader, McAfee Internet Security 9.0 (60 days free)
Warranty 2 year warranty

Later this week I will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – and hope to bring you some exciting updates from there. Thanks for reading.