The Bottom Line
Dec 6 2012 - The Samsung Series 5 is a relatively affordable laptop that offers a good all around experience with some solid performance. It is definitely nice to see it use an anti-glare screen which makes it useful outdoors and in bright light. The problem is that the screen has some terrible viewing angles and mediocre resolution. Frankly, there are better options out there that may drop the anti-glare coating but will make it up in either drive and/or screen performance.
- Good Performance
- Anti-Glare Screen
- Lower Resolution Display With Poor Viewing Angles
- Trackpad Has Issue With Multitouch Gestures
- Intel Core i7-3630QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 7200rpm SATA Dard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6 WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, 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, Office Starter
Review - Samsung Series 5 NP550-P5C-T01U
Dec 6 2012 - Samung's Series 5 has a number of different models from ultrabooks to standard laptops. The NP550P5C-T01US is a larger full size laptop that comes with a full feature setup. The laptop itself is mostly constructed of plastic that while it doesn't have a more premium feel is at least put together well that it doesn't feel excessively cheap either. Powering the Samsung Series 5 NP550 is the Intel Core i7-3630QM quad core processor. This combined with the 8GB of DDR3 memory allow it to perform extremely well in just about any type of task at hand. Windows 8 is very smooth and even taxing tasks such as desktop video editing won't even slow the system own.
Storage for the Series 5 NP550P5C-T01US is based on a traditional hard drive rather than either a hybrid hard drive or with a second small solid state drive for caching that we are seeing on more and more systems. The 750GB storage capacity provides it with plenty of storage space for applications, data and media files. The drive does spin at the faster 7200rpm rate but it's performance still lags compared to those that employ some form of SSD caching. Boot times typically take around thirty seconds and about five to wake from sleep. If you do need additional storage space there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage. This is a full laptop that comes with a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
The display for the Samsung Series 5 NP550 has its high point and low points. Rather than using a glossy coating for the display, it uses an anti-glare coating that makes it a bit easier to use outdoors or in bright office lighting that is prone to reflections and glare. The downside is that the display offers a rather plain 1366x768 display resolution which is below what many others in its price range are starting to offer. Color is decent but this is only when viewed straight on as the viewing angles will quickly result in contrast drops and darkening of the screen. Driving the graphics for the system is an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M processor. This gives it better 3D performance than the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 but it will still see limited performance in games. Its fine for the base display resolution but detail levels may still have to be turned down. The graphics also allow for acceleration of non-3D applications such as Photoshop.
The keyboard for the laptop is recessed from the speaker bar and palmrest area of the keyboard deck. It is a isolated keyboard design that Samsung has been using for some time. The layout is a bit different though which can be an issues for some. It features a numeric keypad and a larger enter and shift key than many other laptops. On the other side, the left shift key is reduced to fit another character key next to the Z. It works well enough for the most part but will take a while to get used to. The trackpad is a nice size that is centered on the keyboard area rather than on the laptop itself. There are dedicated buttons which is a nice change from the integrated buttons that most use. The sensitivity on the trackpad is a bit off though which makes multitouch gestures problematic at times.
The battery pack for the Samsung Series 5 NP550 is your typical size with a 48WHr capacity rating. With the higher performance components it certainly isn't going to last as long as the newer ultrabooks. In digital video playback, the laptop was able to run for just over three and a half hours. This is pretty much average for the laptop with this level of features and size battery. It is certainly well behind the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina with its outstanding seven hours of running time but it also has a much larger battery pack.
In terms of competition, there are several in the Samsung's $900 price range that can be considered. The first is the MSI CX61 which is actually more affordable but sacrifices much of the build quality. Surprisingly, it offers a higher resolution display and faster graphics processor but has less drive performance and RAM. The other option is the Sony VAIO E. This is also a bit more affordable and more compact due to its 14-inch display but sacrifices a number of features. It is slower in terms of performance from a Core i5 processor and half the RAM.