The Bottom Line
Sep 29 2011 - The Samsung Series 3 may not be the thinnest or lightest 13-inch laptop on the market, but it does offer solid performance and storage capabilities that are being sacrificed by many of the latest ultraportables. They keyboard and trackpad are also well designed to be accurate and comfortable. There are a number of things to nitpick about the laptop including the cheap feeling plastic exterior and lack of high speed external storage peripheral ports. At $750, the pricing is good but there are a couple alternatives that are a bit more affordable with comparable features.
- Solid Performance From Core i5 Processor
- Large Hard Drive With DVD Drive
- Comfortable Keyboard With Nice Trackpad
- Plastic Exterior While Functional, Feels Cheap
- No USB 3.0 or eSATA Ports
- Intel Core i5-2410M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 640GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.4" x 8.1" x 1.3" @ 4.6 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Samsung Series 3 NP300V3A-A01
Sep 29 2011 - Samsung's Series 3 laptops are designed to be a mix of portability and price. As a result, they aren't as thin as many new ultrathin and ultrabook laptops that are availabe or coming soon. At $750 though, the NP300V3A-A01 is definitely more affordable with a few more features including performance. It uses a standard laptop voltage Intel Core i5-2410M dual core processor that provides it with a solid level of performance in a wide range of applications. This is combined with 4GB of DDR3 memory to allow for a smooth overall experience.
Most 13-inch laptops are dropping storage features for portability, but the Series 3 laptops are about functionality especially with storage. The NP300V3A-A01 features an above average 640GB hard drive. This provides roughly thirty percent more storage space than the average hard drive based 13-inch laptop. The drive does spin at the more traditional 5400rpm spin rate which does impact the performance a bit compared to laptops using 7200rpm drives and it certainly falters compared to solid state drives. Still, if you need lots of storage space for applications, data and media files, there won't be any problems here. In addition to the hard drive, the laptop also packs in a standard dual layer DVD burner which allows for burning or playback of CD or DVD media. Of course, this is partly the reason for the fairly thick dimensions.
While the internal storage features are quite nice, the Series 3 laptop does fall short for external peripherals. It does feature three USB ports but those wanting to hook up high speed external storage will be disappointed to learn that none of them support new USB 3.0 variety. In addition, it does not support eSATA devices either. This means that you won't have access to any high speed external hard drives.
The display for the Samsung Series 3 NP300V3A-A01 uses a fairly typical 13.3-inch size. It also uses a glossy finish that is norm for most consumer oriented laptops. This one in particular seems to produce a large amount of reflections and glare which make it not very suitable for outdoor use. The image and color all seem to be about average for a 13-inch display. The graphics themselves are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 3000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is a step up from the previous Intel integrated graphics solutions but it still really lacks 3D performance to be used for tasks like PC gaming even at a casual level. It makes up for this by including the ability to accelerate media encoding with QuickSync compatible applications.
It is fairly apparent that one of the areas that Samsung helped reduce production costs is on the exterior shell which is comprised of plastics. They are certainly capable in terms of providing a sturdy enough platform for the laptop but it feels very cheap. At least the keyboard and trackpad make up for the exterior. The keyboard uses an isolated design that provides an accurate and comfortable experience. Even though Samsung puts the home key block on the right hand side of the keyboard, they kept the size of the enter and right shift keys large enough to still be functional. The trackpad itself is a nice size and centered on the keyboard. It is a bit overly sensitive but can be adjusted in the control panels. Thankfully, Samsung does use discrete left and right buttons instead of the rocker bar that many consumer laptops use.
Samsung's NP300V3A-A01 comes with a fairly typical six cell battery pack with a rated capacity of 4400mAh. In DVD playback testing, the laptop was able to run for just over three hours and fifteen minutes. This is slightly below similarly equipped 13-inch laptops with DVD burners but not that far off. More traditional usage should yield close to five hours which is decent but still falls short of the likes of the more expensive MacBook Pro 13.