The Bottom Line
Sep 13 2012 - Samsung's Series 5 ultrabook is sort of a mid-range offering from the company that does a decent job but just doesn't have enough to make it stand out from the crowded 13-inch ultrabook market. The keyboard and trackpad are the standout features of the system that work extremely well for anyone that needs to type for long hours. It just would habe been nice if it were backlit. Performance and features seem to be on par with just about all the competition but with a slightly above average but the battery life was lower than average.
- Good Build Quality
- Excellent Keyboard With Large Trackpad
- Below Average Battery Life
- Heavier Than Many Similar Ultrabooks
- Keyboard Is Not Backlit
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.4" x 8.6" x .7" @ 3.3 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C-A02US
Sep 13 2012 - The Samsung Series 5 is sort of the mid-range option from the company for an ultraportable system. It shares much of the various styling from both the more affordable Series 3 and the premium Series 9. It keeps the grayish brushed metal exterior look and lightly tapered edges which give it a nice profile but not quite as thin as some of the competition. It still has a svelte profile of just .7-inches at the hinge but the weight is a bit higher than some of the competition at three and a quarter pounds.
For the $1000 version of the Series 5 ultrabook, Samsung has elected to use the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core processor that is based on the newer Ivy Bridge design. This offers a bit more efficiency but relatively equal performance to the past Sandy Bridge processor. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory that is standard for ultrabooks. The combined experience is smooth in Windows 7 and will work for the majority of users tasks. It is still able to handle demanding tasks such as desktop video editing but it will be slower than a traditional laptop with faster processors that also have more cores.
Samsung went with the standard route for the ultrabook Series 5 when it comes to storage. It uses a 128GB solid state drive that gives it quick performance but has the drawback of limited storage space compared to ultrabooks that use a hybrid hard drive. Boot times are good at roughly thirty seconds but still much slower than the Acer Aspire S5 with its dual SSD setup or the MacBook Air 13. If you do require additional space, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage. It would have been nice to see them have more than just a single port as more are offering two or three of them.
There are multiple versions of the Series 5, but this one uses a 13.3-inch display that offers a pretty typical experience with a native resolution of 1366x768. It does use an anti-glare coating which helps to reduce the amount of reflections and make it easier to outdoors but the viewing angles did seem a bit narrower than usual. This puts it below offerings from Apple or ASUS when it comes to resolution and display quality. The graphics themselves are driven by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the processor. It has improved 3D performance over past models but it still has limited capabilities when it comes to use for 3D games to just older titles at lower resolution and detail levels. What the graphics does allow though is accelerated media encoding when used with Quick Sync enabled applications.
Samsung has generally had very good keyboards and the Series 5 is not really much different than their other models. It uses an isolated keyboard layout that has nicely textured keys that make for a very comfortable typing experience. The only real downside here is that the keyboard is not backlit which may be a big selling point for those that frequently work in darker environments. The trackpad is a nice large size and offers dedicated buttons rather than the integrated ones found in many systems. Even with the large size, the software did a good job of ignoring accidental presses of the palms while typing and also recognized multitouch gestures well.
The battery pack of the Samsung Series 5 uses an internal 45WHr capacity this is close if not slightly smaller than some other ultrabooks. Samsung claims that it can provide up to seven hours of running time. In my digital video playback test, the laptop was able to run for four and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. More traditional running times will likely be between five and six hours. This is below the average for an ultrabook especially ones that are equipped with an SSD instead of a hard drive. It certainly is much lower than the six hours that the Apple MacBook Air 13 and the HP Folio 13 were able to achieve in the same test.
In terms of the competition, with its $1000 price point, the closest models would the revised Acer Aspire S3, the ASUS Zenbook UX32A, Dell XPS 13 and Toshiba Portege Z935. The Acer offers stronger performance and extra USB port but with less overall build quality. The ASUS comes with a hybrid drive for more storage space and three total USB 3.0 ports but has an erratic touchpad and slower performance from the drive. Dell's model is still using the Sandy Bridge processors but is a bit more compact and has an accident warranty coverage. Finally, Toshiba's is much lighter and thinner but doesn't have the same build quality or dual-band Wi-Fi.