Even with the all-plastic body the Series 3 NP355V5C doesn't look or feel cheap. It certainly doesn't compare to the feel of an aluminium or magnesium chassis, but it's still top-notch finishing. The body is well assembled; nothing moves or jiggles when you press down on it.
The keyboard may not be visually dazzling, either, but the chiclet keys are well proportioned. Samsung succeeded in integrating a numeric keypad without sacrificing the rest of the keys. The keys are quiet, but we wish they were backlit.
The large touchpad supports the basic Windows 7 multitouch commands (two-finger zooming, scrolling, etc.) and offers smooth and precise finger movements.
Along the sides of the chassis you find: four USB ports (two 3.0 and two 2.0), a pair of video outs (VGA and HDMI), an RJ45 Ethernet port, an audio out, an audio in and a DVD burner. A memory card reader is located along the front edge.
That's extensive connectivity; all that's missing is eSATA.
Heat readings with the components under stress.
Both when you stress the components and during normal use, the fan kicks in and lets out a 39 dB(A) hiss and the temperature goes all the way up to 42° C (107° F). The heat evacuates downwards, so you get an uninterrupted waft of hot air on your legs when you have it sitting on your lap.
The audio output signal has zero distortion and good dynamics (variability in the volume level). Use a good pair of headphones, and you'll get nice sound out of this.
Green = good / Orange = tolerable / White = too heavily altered
The speakers, however, cruelly lack volume. It isn't like we were expecting to get a party bumpin' with them or anything, but even so, with just a little bit of background noise you'll need external speakers to get anything audible out of the Series 3 NP355V5C.
The (one) good thing about this screen is that it's matte. We like that. It gives less reflections and glare.
The bad things are as follows: inaccurate colours (Delta E = 12.1), incredibly low contrast (250:1, no matter how high you set the brightness) and screen brightness that ranges from just 80 to 230 cd/m². Under our rating system, any laptop with contrast this low can't get more than three stars on its overall score.
The model we were sent to review (Series 3 NP355V5C-S03FR) features an AMD A10-4600M processor, 8 GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 7670M graphics chipset and a 1 TB HDD. Whereas the comments above refer to all models of the Samsung Series 3 NP355V5C, the observations below apply solely to the configuration we tested, as each model has different specifications. Individual components may also vary depending on the country/region you live in.
The AMD A10-4600M processor gives a fine performance, but it's nothing extraordinary. If we had to liken it to a competing processor, it would be the Intel Core i5-1733U, which we described in our Samsung Series 9 900X3C review, but it still doesn't quite match up. We measured the Intel chip as 7% faster. The AMD A10-4600M is far from being the fastest processor out there, but it can handle productivity, web browsing and even some more complex tasks, such as 3D modelling.
We were a little disappointed with the storage situation on the NP355V5C. The 1 TB hard drive (5400 rpm) offers a comfortable amount of space, but you can sense the lack of an SSD—even an Express Cache SSD would have done the trick. The NP355V5C takes a full 57 seconds to launch Windows 7 (including time to establish a Wi-Fi connection). Shutdown takes 12 seconds, on average.
Since the resolution is a relatively low 1366 x 768 pixels, the AMD Radeon HD 7670M (3DMark06 score: 8053) is able to handle a good number of games in medium-to-high quality. Particularly demanding games, however, such as Metro 2033 or Battlefield 3, will be tough to run in high detail. And if you hook the Series 3 NP355V5C up to a Full HD monitor, the number of games that are playable in high detail will plunge drastically.
But for exporting Full HD movies to a big screen TV via HDMI, the NP355V5C does as it should.
The NP355V5C-S03FR lasts 3 hours and 47 minutes during continuous video playback with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m², the Wi-Fi turned off and headphones plugged in. That's long enough to watch a couple of movies, but who's going to want to carry a laptop this size and weight (2.5 kg) around?
- Big touchpad
- Matte screen
- Tolerable gaming capability
- 1 TB of storage space
- Comfortable keyboard
- Startup time (57 seconds)
- Inaccurate colours (Delta E = 12)
- Low contrast (250:1)
- Low speaker volume
- Graphics driver for experts only
Without excelling in any particular area, the Samsung NP355V5C does have enough power to handle a relatively wide range of tasks (productivity, games, reasonably demanding programmes). It has good connectivity, satisfactory battery life and more than enough storage space. Too bad about the low contrast. Let's hope AMD makes some quick changes to its graphics driver, which requires a certain amount of expertise.