The Bottom Line
Oct 24 20120 - Samsung may have made a more affordable version of their Series 3 laptop by switching over to the AMD Fusion platform for the NP305E5A but they didn't make enough improvements to keep up with other options available. The few things going for it including a better than average keyboard and trackpad and Bluetooth connectivity. Beyond that, it has less storage space, no USB3.0 and that still very cheap plastic feel that just doesn't stack up well compared to other laptops at the same price point.
- Excellent Keyboard And Trackpad
- Improved Integrated Graphics
- Plastic Exterior Feels Very Cheap
- Smaller Hard Drive Than Most In Its Price Range
- Lacks USB 3.0 Port
- AMD A6-3420M Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 320GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With VGA Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 6520G Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.4" x 9.5" x 1.4" @ 5.1 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium
Review - Samsung Series 3 NP305E5A-A07US
Oct 24 20120 - The Samsung NP305E5A-A07US is essentially the same Series 3 laptop that Samsung has had on the market for some time but using the AMD Fusion platform instead of Intel. There are some minor changes to the exterior such as a silver blue exterior mixed with black unlike the solid black design of the Series 3 NP300V5A. It still feels like very cheap plastic which is a bit disappointing. The keyboard remains unchanged with its comfortable and accurate isolated design that features a numeric keypad. It also keeps one of the larger trackpads for a 15-inch laptop.
For the heart of the system, it uses the AMD Fusion A6-3420M quad core processor which has more cores than the majority of Intel Pentium based systems it competes with at its under $500 price tag. Matched up with the processor is 4GB of DDR3 memory. The combination of these two gives it a smooth overall experience with Windows and provides sufficient performance for most users. The extra cores can benefit those who run a fair number of applications simultaneously but it would be advised to improved performance by upgrading the memory to 8GB. On the other hand, the performance for those that use just a single application at a time will still be slower than what the Intel platforms can achieve.
Storage is one of the weaker aspects of the Samsung NP305E5A. For storage, it comes with a 320GB hard drive that is noticeable smaller than the typical 500GB drive found at this price point. Now, that isn't necessarily a problem as one can supplement it with external storage but this is another problem for the laptop. While it features three USB ports, none of them use the new USB 3.0 specification to take advantage of high speed external storage. A standard dual layer DVD burner is included for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
While the storage may be a bit worse off, the graphics actually fare a bit better with the NP305E5A. It uses the same 15.6-inch panel as many other laptops that uses the TN technology and features a 1366x768 native resolution. The color and brightness are decent but the glossy coating makes it difficult to use outdoors or in certain lighting due to reflections and glare. What is different is the AMD Radeon HD 6520G graphics that are built into the A6 processor . This gives it a bit better 3D performance that at least allow it to be used with some PC games at lower resolution and detail levels with the Intel solutions can't quite reach. In addition, the processor allows for a greater range of acceleration of non-3D applications which makes it usefull for those that might do something like Photoshop.
The Samsung NP305E5A uses the same six cell battery pack as the other Series 3 models with a 4400mAH capacity rating. This is typical of most 15-inch laptops regardless of the price range. In digital video playback testing, this results in just under three and a half hours of playback before going into standby mode. This is pretty typical of most laptops in this price range but falls short of what the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 that can achieve over five hours and the Dell Inspiron 15R that can last as long as four.
Pricing of the Samsung NP305E5A-A07US ranges from around $450 to $500 which puts it in the lower price segment and certainly more affordable than the Series 3 Intel based laptop. In terms of competition, there are a number of low cost options including the ASUS X54C-RB93, Dell Inspiron 15, HP Pavilion g6 and the Toshiba Satellite C855. The ASUS laptop is more affordable and has greater performance but has shorter battery life. Dell's option is very comparable with a larger hard drive but similar limitations on expansion ports. HP's has double the storage space while using the same AMD platform but lacks the numeric keypad. Finally, the Toshiba is more affordable and comes with a USB 3.0 port but has a dual core Pentium.