The Bottom Line
Apr 12 2013 - Samsung brings some surprising features to the sub-$500 laptop market with the NP550P5C-A02UB. These include an anti-glare coated display, large 750GB hard drive and 5GHz Wi-Fi networking. These really make the system stand out at this price point but it is held back from being a great budget system by a number of flaws. This includes a very heavy weight as many laptops are getting thinner and lighter, battery life below much of the competition and a trackpad that has some big issues with multitouch gestures which are critical to Windows 8.
- Large Hard Drive
- Anti-Glare Coating On Display
- 5GHz Wireless and Bluetooth Support
- Battery Life A Bit Below Average
- Trackpad Multitouch Issues
- Intel Core i3-3110M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.4" x 9.5" x 1.2" @ 5.5 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Samsung NP550P5C-A02UB
Apr 12 2013 - Samsung's Series 5 laptop was considered their mid range offering for a full featured laptop while the Series 3 was generally as typically their least expensive. Prices have come down considerably making some of the Series 5 models like the NP550P5C-A02UB much more affordable. The system is a bit larger and heavier than the Series 3 but it also feels better than the cheap plastic exterior on the Series 3.
Powering the Samsung NP550P5C-A03UB is the Intel Core i3-3110M dual core processor. Now this is the lowest of the latest generation of Core i3 processors but it still provides improved performance over laptops equipped with the lower Pentium or the AMD dual core APU processors. In fact, most users probably won't see much of a different when browsing the web, watching streaming videos or using productivity applications. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory which provides a relatively smooth experience in Windows 8 but it is advised to do a memory upgrade if you plan to multitask frequently.
The storage features for the Samsung NP550P5C-A02UB really set it apart from other budget systems. While most laptops priced under $500 feature a 500GB hard drive, this model comes with a 750GB hard drive that provides fifty percent more space for applications, data and media files. This is certainly beneficial for anyone that needs to have a lot of files on their laptop. If this is still not enough space, there are two USB 3.0 ports on the left hand side that can be used with high speed external hard drives. There is a standard dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media as well.
The 15.6-inch display panel on the Samsung NP550P5C is fairly typical for a low cost system. This means it uses a 1366x768 native resolution which seems quite low when compared to the tablets these days. It does stand out against most consumer laptops though because it does feature an anti-glare coating that makes it easier to use outdoors and in certain office lighting conditions. The downside is that the viewing angles for the screen are very narrow even for the relative poor displays often used in the lower cost market. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i3 processor. This is fine for the average user as long as they don't intend to use the laptop for gaming as it still has limited 3D performance. It does offer accelerated media encoding when using Quick Sync enabled applications though.
Networking features are also a big standout for the Samsung NP550P5C. Essentially all laptops come with WiFi networking built in. What is different is that Samsung includes the antennae and radio so that this laptop can function with the 5GHz wireless networking across the 802.11a and 802.11n standards. In addition to this, the radio also features support for Bluetooth wireless for use with tethering to a mobile phone or use with wireless peripherals.
The keyboard for the Samsung NP550P5C uses the standard isolated design that the company has been using for some time. The keyboard is slightly recessed from the rest of the keyboard deck and palmrest. The right enter and shift keys are of a nice size but the left has side buttons are a bit smaller as a result in order to fit in a numeric keypad. Overall, it is a decent keyboard both for accuracy and comfort. The trackpad does not fare as well. It is a nice size and features dedicated buttons. The problem is the mulitouch gesture support for Windows 8 because of its sensitivity.
The battery pack for the Samsung NP550P5C uses a standard six cell with 48WHr capacity that is typical for many of this size and price range. In digital video playback testing, this resulting in just over three and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is an improvement over a more expensive version with dedicated graphics but only by a small margin. On the whole, it is slightly below average as more systems move to the lower power consumption parts but is not terribly so compared to similar equipped models. It certainly falls well short of the five hours that the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 can achieve.
The Samsung NP550P5c-A02UB is priced at $480 which is quite good for some of its features which other laptops lack. At this price point, the primary competition comes from Acer's Aspire V3-551G, the Lenovo Essential G580, and the Toshiba Satellite L855. Acer offers a slightly more expensive system that uses a quad core AMD processor along with a dedicated AMD graphics processor for higher graphics performance but this does offer less running time. Lenovo's G580 offers a faster Core i3 processor, and excellent keyboard and better battery life but it is heavier. Finally, Toshiba's Satellite L855 offers a closer 640GB hard drive at a $400 price point.