When we first got our hands on the Samsung Series 3, we thought it had multimedia machine written all over it, thanks to its optical drive, large hard drive and widescreen display.

That didn't really turn out to be its strengths, but good usability appeared in its place, and a nice array of ports mean it looks like a good work machine. Except it's got a bit of a weak battery life.

So it ends up in an odd place, then. Not quite media machine, not quite home machine - jack of all trades, master of none.

We liked

There's a nice, simple design to the Series 3. We like the lid pattern, and it's fairly minimalist when opened - no array of buttons sticking out, or horrible plastic partner logos (well, except for the five stickers on it).

For the specs, it's undoubtedly a good price, especially with that 1TB hard drive. Cloud storage is great, but you won't stop people storing masses of media for a few years yet, so a machine with a big hard drive is welcome.

The keyboard is really nice - comfortable and responsive. Overall usability is good, save for a couple of minor trackpad niggles.

We disliked

The benchmarks for the AMD processor and graphics are rather disappointing, even if real-world use doesn't feel too bad. We expected more from AMD's latest quad-core chips.

The battery life is hugely disappointing, too. As we said, we're not expecting an all-day machine, but there are laptops that cost a third less that last for as much as an hour longer, and we'd like it to match them for the price.

And for a machine that should be a knock-out for home use, we really would expect a Blu-ray drive, and either a higher quality screen at this resolution, or one with more pixels.

Final verdict

Though the Samsung Series 3 seems attractive on paper for its price, a closer look doesn't bear this out. Disappointing performance scores and battery life, along with a few missing specs, take the edge off what is otherwise a very capable machine. The Series 3 355V5C-S01 isn't bad, but it's not a great machine either.