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The Samsung N350's main claim to fame is that it's one of the first netbooks to sport Intel's new dual-core Atom N550 processor. But does it boost performance enough to make the £320 N350 worth the premium over single-core machines?
Externally, there's little to distinguish the N350 from other netbooks on the market. The lid is finished in glossy grey, while the keyboard and screen surround are matte black. The brushed-aluminium effect on the plastic wrist rest spruces matter up somewhat, but, overall, the design is rather dull. That said, at a few grams over 1kg, the N350 is very light, and its slim, 22mm-thick chassis makes it very portable.
The netbook doesn't break the mould when it comes to connectivity either. Along with three USB ports, you get an Ethernet socket, VGA port and SD card reader. Sadly there's no HDMI port, but the N350 does have Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity, as well as the usual 802.11n Wi-Fi. The 250GB hard drive means you'll be able to store a decent amount of media files and work documents on the computer.
Like many of Samsung's netbooks, one of the N350's strengths is its 10.1-inch screen. Although its resolution of 1,024x600 pixels is par for the course on today's netbooks, the screen uses an anti-glare coating that cuts down massively on reflections. It does this without adversely affecting the vibrancy of the colours that it produces. As a result, movies and photos still look ace. The viewing angles are relatively good too, so you won't find yourself fiddling about with the display in an attempt to find a sweet spot where colours are consistent, as you must with some lesser netbooks.
Keyboards on 10-inch netbooks are all about compromise, due to the limited space available, but the N350's keyboard is still eminently usable. It feels reassuringly solid and its isolated keys are relatively large, with a fair amount of space between them. As a result, accidentally hitting adjacent keys when typing at speed just isn't an issue. The trackpad is rather good too. Its pleasingly wide and the rocker-style buttons respond well even to lighter presses.
What really separates this netbook from its peers is its dual-core N550 processor, which ticks over at 1.5GHz. Unfortunately, it's rather underwhelming in practice. As with previous dual-core netbooks we've tested, the second core doesn't actually produce all that much of a boost in performance.