User Review: Samsung N310 Netbook

December 11, 2009 / Reviews, Technology / 17 Comments

For months, I struggled to find the perfect netbook, researching on tech blogs and even bugging popular resident geeks like Lester, DK as well as a few of my techie colleagues for their opinions. (Thanks, guys!) And finally, the night before the IT fair, I drew up a “to consider” list based on their specs:

1) ASUS 1005 HA for its long battery life
2) MSI Wind U100 Plus for its affordable price tag.
3) Acer Aspire One D250 for having both Windows and Android OSes.
4) Toshiba Mini NB205 for its positive reviews.
5) HP Mini 311 for its ergonomic keyboard.

But when I arrived at the fair, I realized I made a grave mistake. Netbooks aren’t really about specs, they’re about usability. I was disappointed with my “to consider” list. Most of them just didn’t feel right. Some had difficult keyboards, others felt like over sized toys. I was very reluctant to part with my money… until I saw the Samsung N310.

It was love at first touch.


Why I Love the Samsung N310

Keyboard: The Samsung N310 has a Mac-like or chiclet keyboard. And as a Macbook user, I can type with my eyes closed and make no mistakes on the N310. I also really appreciate the full-sized “Tab” button because I fill in quite a bit of forms and like to change windows quickly.

Texture: The shell of the Samsung N310 is covered by this rubbery material reminiscent of those exorbitantly-priced Japanese mechanical pencils. I think they call those things soft grip. The soft grip just makes me want to molest the netbook. 😉

Design: It’s minimalistic and there’s something very Japanese about it… like my blog. (Yes, I’m aware Samsung is Korean.) Upon further research, I learned that the Samsung N310 is designed by Naoto Fukasawa – the dude who designed everything from indestructible paper bags to MUJI’s CD player. So perhaps that’s why there was that certain Japanese-ness to it.

Battery Life: Officially, the website says it’ll run 9 hours with a 6-cell 8850 mAh battery. It’s actually not too far from the truth. My N310 hasn’t gotten a chance to run out of juice yet so I can’t say for certain. However, I did run it for 4.5 hours on Normal battery mode with USB broadband on mobile modem on, iTunes playing, Google Chrome with 3 tabs running, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger with 3 windows open – and my battery meter still read “48% battery life left; 3.8 hours left”!

Sound: The audio is crisp, clear and very, very loud. And I hate to admit this, but it’s louder than my Macbook’s speakers. 😯

But of course, no product is ever perfect. Over 2 weeks of use, I discovered a few things that annoyed me but nothing severe enough to make me regret my buy.

Why the Samsung N310 annoys me

Heat: It gets a little warm on the left side. Of course, it depends on the surface I place it on. On tables, it doesn’t seem to get that warm that quickly or easily – unless I’m doing something resource intensive. But on softer surfaces like beds, pillows or even on my lap, it does get warm fairly quickly.

Performance: Compared to my friend’s Toshiba NB205, the Samsung N310 on Normal battery mode performs much slower at multimedia tasks like Facebook flash games and webcam chats. (Our specs are the same, except that hers runs on Windows 7 Starter and mine on Windows XP.) But when the N310 runs on Max Performance mode, it was on par with the NB205.

Mouse Trackpad: The touchpad is less responsive than the Mac’s, so I have to tap a little harder to click. I’m also not a fan of the mouse button. Windows machines shouldn’t have one button. With right-click, it just doesn’t make sense.

Logo Design That is one seriously gigantic Samsung logo. Worst thing is, it’s embossed so I can’t cover it with a sticker. Besides, stickers will destroy its beautiful soft grip skin. Argh!


After some bargaining with a very knowledgeable salesperson, I bought the Samsung N310 for S$649 (approx USD $450) with a 2GB RAM upgrade (plus installation) and a laundry list of freebies including:

  • External DVD writer
  • 2-year extended warranty
  • Antivirus software
  • 4GB Sandisk Cruzer
  • Laptop cooler
  • Mouse
  • Laptop cleaner

Tech Reviews of the Samsung N310

I’m only a poseur geek, so my review is probably not comprehensive enough for the true geeks. Just shimmy over to the real geeks’ reviews here if this isn’t what you’re looking for:

Dear readers, do you own a netbook? If so, which one? If don’t own one, would you consider buying one? Why or why not?

  • Awesome review! Very detailed and straight to the point. 🙂

    And you know I have a netbook! In fact, you’re the one who introduced me to the netbook world! I still thank you for that. 🙂

  • DK

    Wow, that is a good price for N310. It was selling at $899 when it just released.

    Actually hor, I kinda like the embossed Samsung logo. 😀

  • Ivy

    @Tara: Thanks girl! Yes I know your got an Acer! U like it? 🙂

    @DK: Ya, quite happy with the price. Although compared to the other netbook deals at SITEX, Samsung’s wasn’t competitive enough. My friend got the Toshiba NB205 for $549!

    Haha! The embossed logo made it look very manly, I feel. So maybe that’s why you like it la. 😀

  • Neo

    Very completed review! More and more people getting netbook. Maybe i should consider getting one too.

  • These netbooks… Wow 450$?! I was considering buying this really good vitamix blender and its like 500 some dollars!!!! I could have bought a mini notebook instead! You must be a good bargainer. ^__~

    I want to own a netbook now…
    Just so I can carry it with me in my big purse…but other than, I wouldn’t know what to use it for. XD

  • Oops, I just rechecked the price for a vitamix and its around 450 dollars…oh, dang I kinda want to buy the vitamix now. >__>

  • Ivy

    @Jihyun: Actually, since you live in the States, you should get your netbook from Amazon. They’re selling the Samsung N310 for 349 USD. (It has the same specs as mine without the 2GB RAM upgrade.) 😀

    Get both Vitamix and a netbook! 🙂

  • I have really been craving a netbook lately! The portability is soooo tempting, I can just picture myself sticking it in my purse, so easy.

    Good review! I agree with the logo comment, usually I don’t mind logos on a laptop, but that one just doesn’t look cute.

  • Awesome review! As you know I’ve been looking out for a netbook myself and this totally helps =) Detailed but easy to digest at the same time and very much from the “user” point of view.

  • I’m in the handheld market thru my job, and the last item on my to-check-out list was a SONY Vaio product (vgn-p699e). I cannot recommend any Sony product, but it’s worth checking out. What a weird little thing. I’ll buy one and put Linux on it.

    If you like mobile-size, I’ve had some fun with the Nokia Internet Tablets too. I usually bring one of those to conferences and seminars, because they’re ideal for note-taking and recording, then transfer the txt files to a real computer later on.

    That said, Netbooks are a whole other class of devices. I just ordered 24 10-inch MSI Wind netbooks for an international project we’re doing, and the number one “selling feature” of the netbooks for me is that its low cost and low quality making it an easily-replacable option (field work consists of bad weather, theft and roughed terrain).

  • Your review makes me wanna go out to a store and try out one of these. 🙂

    I have a laptop, its getting a bit old, but I love it. 😛

  • Congrats on your hoot!

  • It’s been a while since I have taken the time to stop by and visit. I’m really glad I saw this review of yours because I’m actually deciding which Samsung netbook to get – N310 (Windows XP) or N140 (Windows 7). Your review reassures me that I will be happy with a Samsung netbook, thanks!

  • Nice review! =) Seems like all things got good and bad. But still, have fun with your net book. =)

  • How about Dell? It’s ok for me…

    Great blog by the way..

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