While netbooks have become the laptops of choice for the Facebook generation who mostly want to chat online and check their e-mails, small portable notebooks are growing in popularity for youngsters, low level gamers and business folk who need decent graphic card performance allied to a powerful CPU. Hence the arrival of Samsung’s SF310.
This class of notebook is supposed to be chic as well as functional and certainly the wave style design on the sides creates a cool rippling effect that should impress your friends. However, while the SF310 has attractively tapered smooth edges, the Apple-emulating white exterior looks decidedly bland in an age of designer artwork and textured surfaces.
Inside there’s a thick black glossy bezel surrounding the 13.3-inch LED HD display which features the increasingly commonplace 1366 x 768 screen resolution in 16:9 widescreen. The matching (matt) black keyboard is of the much favoured chiclet design with Scrabble type letters and plenty of space between the keys. Sensibly, Samsung has dispensed with a separate number pad, so there’s no issue with arrow keys being squashed up, and typing feels comfortable, firm and responsive.
There’s a discrete collection of silver control buttons for sound and WiFi above the keys and a large touch pad below them, set in the centre of a chrome workspace. Some may find the absence of specific mouse buttons off-putting, as their role is incorporated into the same flat surface as the touch pad; but you need very little pressure for a positive reaction, even if the scrolling function needs considerably more effort.
Ports and peripherals are relatively meagre, with a single USB and a DVD player on one side and two more USBs plus an HDMI output (inexplicably hidden behind a rather flimsy plastic cover) on the other, alongside Ethernet, VGA, sound and a 4-in-1 memory card slot. The overall dimensions are a reassuringly portable 331 x 235.9 x 26.9mm and although the 2.06kg weight might seem a touch chunky compared to some of its competitors, it’s hardly going to be responsible for serious back strain.
The main selling point for the SF310, though, is its general performance under the hood. With a powerful Intel Core i5-M460 CPU clocked at 2.53GHz and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, you’ll have little problem cruising the Net, playing music, adding a bit of graphic design and preparing documents simultaneously. In addition, the SF310 will automatically switch between the native Intel HD graphics card and a mightier NVIDIA GeForce 310M according to load, thus allowing a decent level of competitive gaming and ensuring movies look respectably sharp and free of judder.
Battery life is a not inconsiderable six and a half hours plus at lightest usage, and around one hour forty-five minutes at heaviest. It was a little disappointing to see only 320GB worth of storage capacity but that can easily be rectified for the SF310′s successor.
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