The Bottom Line
Jul 30 2013 - Samsung's ATIV Book 5 may not be the big redesign that the name implies but it takes a solid design and upgrades it with a new touchscreen display and some amazing battery life. There are a number of elements of the system though that drag down the system from being excellent including a dim display with viewing angle issues, just a single USB 3.0 port and only 4GB of memory.
- Excellent Battery Life
- Stylish Design
- Good Performnace
- Dim Display Has Limited Viewing Angles
- Only One USB 3.0 Port
- Just 4GB Of Memory
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive and 24GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 720p Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integarted Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, mini-VGA, SD Card Slot
- 13.3" x 9.2" x .81" @ 4.3 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Samsung ATIV Book 5 (NP540U4E-K01US)
Jul 30 2013 - The Samsung ATIV Book 5 may have a new name but it is really an update of the previous Series 5 ultrabooks. The chassis uses a darker aluminum chassis over the previous silver but for the most part remains unchanged in terms of styling. This 14-inch version is relatively thin and just .82-inches thick and weighs around four and a third pounds which is acceptable for those looking for a larger screen ultrabook but it still feels a bit heavy.
Even though the Samsung ATIV Book 5 was released after the new Intel processor releases, it is based around the Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor from the previous generation. This processor offers a good level of performance and it on par with the new Core i5-4200U when running applications. It can be used for just about any type of application but it is going to be slower than a traditional laptop when it comes to demanding tasks like desktop video work. The processor is matched up with just 4GB of DDR3 memory which is half what most systems at this price point come with. It is smooth enough for Windows 8 but some memory intensive applications could benefit from a memory upgrade.
For the storage, Samsung uses their combination of a 500GB hard drive combined with a 24GB solid state drive used for caching the frequently used data. This combination helps improve the speeds of the system with booting into Windows taking just over eleven seconds which is nearly on par with some dedicated solid state only systems. If you do need additional storage space, there is a single USB 3.0 port on the left hand side of the system. It would have been nice to see more than one of the ports as most in this size tend to have between two and three. There is no optical drive on the system in order for it to be a bit more compact but this isn't nearly a problem like it used to be.
The 14-inch display panel for the ATIV Book 5 features multitouch which is very useful for navigating Windows 8. The resolution for the display is a rather low 1366x768 which feels very limited especially considering the price and competition at this price point. In terms of color, it did a fine job but the brightness levels are below average and the viewing angles especially on the vertical are fairly narrow leading to some big contrast drop off. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This really lacks the performance for being used for 3D PC games unless they are older and set at lower detail and resolution levels. It does provide acceleration for media encoding when using Quick Sync compatible applications.
For the battery, Samsung has elected to use an internal 57WHr capacity pack for the ATIV Book 5. This is a bit higher than many other 14-inch laptops but not as larger as some others. In digital video playback tests, the system was able to last for just under seven hours. This gives it some impressive running times especially since it is still based on the 3rd generation Intel Core i processor. It should provide the system with near all-day computing and is on par with the much more expensive Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display that costs roughly double the Samsung.
The keyboard design of the ATIV Book 5 uses an isolated keyboard layout typical of many of their machines but the keys are fairly flat and with a relatively short throw. Thankfully it provides a good level of feedback so that it offers a good level of accuracy and comfort. There is an adjustable backlight for the keyboard but the brightness even on the highest setting is not that bright which can make it difficult to distinguish except in a completely dark room. The trackpad is a nice large size that uses integrated buttons. It is centered on the middle of the screen rather than on the center of the keyboard which was a bit annoying for the right hand brushing it periodically when typing.
Price at $900, the Samsung ATIV Book 5 comes in under the $1000 price point that most people consider the transition to premium ultrabooks. At this price point there are a number of competitors. The Acer Aspire R7 is a larger and heavier system that features a convertible design but it sacrifices battery life as well. Dell's XPS 14 is a similarly sized ultrabook with a higher resolution display but it lacks a touchscreen interface. Lenovo's IdeaPad U410 offers a package at nearly the same price with a dedicated graphics processor but it suffers from much less battery life. Sony's VAIO Fit 14 Touch is a bit more expensive but comes with a higher resolution display and DVD burner but again much less battery life.