The Samsung Series 5 family has become an appealing alternative to other pricey ultrabooks offered by the company. Those very light and thin 14-inchers deliver reliable performance and respectable battery life. Let’s see what else they can boast. A Samsung Series 5 ultrabook is certainly stylish and attractive. Measuring 13.1 x 9.0 x 0.82 inches and weighing 4 pounds, it has a thinner and lighter profile compared to many of its rivals.
Designed to have a sleek and sturdy look, the laptop is fashioned completely out of silver-gray brushed aluminum – a material that does an admirable job resisting fingerprints.
The bottom panel is made of plastic. There are no any bold embellishments on the machine, other than Samsung logo and a super thin metal band framing the trackpad. Such plain design can be equally well placed at home or in the office.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Samsung Series 5’s island-style keyboard is quite enjoyable. Its large matte black keys have a pleasant, ever-so slightly textured finish and a satisfying amount of travel and response, holding their own even under the pressure of furious typing. Unfortunately, the layout is not backlit, which is one of the compromises Samsung apparently made to keep this system relatively affordable.
Measuring 4 x 2.1 inches, the Series 5’s touchpad, powered by Elan, offers a large, low-friction surface for smooth, precise tracking. Multi-touch gestures like two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom are easy to execute, and deliver comfortable navigating experience. Our touchpad also features dedicated mouse buttons which have a nice tactile feel and are generously sized.
Display and Audio
The Series 5’s screen comes with a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which is not as good as 1,600×900 displays on more advanced and expensive ultrabooks. However, Samsung excels in putting its TV know-how to good use, which means that users will enjoy a bright, unexpectedly matte display with very manageable glare. Our 14-incher still beats other displays in its price category, being one of the SuperBright screens with 300 nits of brightness. However, the viewing angles leave much to be desired and are still fairly narrow.
Like an increasing number of other laptops, the Series 5 makes use of Intel’s Wireless Display technology, which enables mirroring the user’s desktop on an HDTV or external monitor. The audio system consists of two speakers located above the keyboard, one on either side, which complement the main speaker at the base of the screen during media playback. Those speakers kick out a good sound volume with excellent distribution and balance to boot. The bass quality is unfortunately not as impressive as we would like it to be, however, that is typical for systems this thin.
The Samsung Series 5 ultrabook features a whole bunch of ports. Starting on the right edge, there is a tray-loading DVD/RW drive, a USB 2.0 port, a Kensington lock slot and 4-in-1 memory card reader. On the left one can find an Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 ports, a VGA port, an HDMI socket, and a combo headphone and mic jack.
In terms of wireless connectivity, Series 5 feature the Intel Centrino Advanced N 6235 Wi-Fi module which supports the 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0.
The laptop that we’re currently reviewing is configured with a Core i5-2467M CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM and integrated HD 3000 graphics. It runs on a 500GB 5,400RPM drive with 16GB of flash memory helping accelerate the start-up process, cut resume times and launch apps quickly. So, there is quite adequate power for everyday tasks including writing documents, surfing the Web and watching movies.
Thanks to a 16GB SSD, express cache and Fast Boot Technology, the machine boots in a brisk 21 seconds, so users will not have to wait around for Windows to finish loading and can immediately start clicking things. The Series 5 also wakes from sleep in less than two seconds.As with most notebooks with integrated graphics, the Series 5 Ultrabook’s Intel HD 3000 GPU is sufficient for watching movies and doing some light gaming, but not much more – its average score on the 3DMark06 benchmark is rather low.
It’s well-known that one of the essential requirements laid down for ultrabooks is a long-lasting battery. In our case, the 14-inch Series 5 brings in an optical drive, but nothing in the way of extended longevity, so that can be counted as coming up a bit short. The manufacturer claims more than six hours of use on a single charge. In reality, in standard battery test including watching movies with Wi-Fi on and brightness fixed at 65 percent, the laptop manages only 5.5 hours, falling short of almost every other machine of this class available on the market. However, that runtime is enough to get the user through a good part of the day.
On the plus side, the laptop sips very little power while asleep, so theoretically one can go days without charging. The 14-inch Series 5 Ultrabook is available in one configuration (described in this review). There is also a 13-inch model without the optical drive, available in two flavors (more advanced and expensive version comes with a 128GB SSD).
Keeping it light, there are only a few apps pre-installed on the Series 5, including CyberLink Media Suite, MediaShow, Power2Go, PowerDirector and the YouCam webcam app. The machine also comes loaded with a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2012, Skype 4.2, Norton Online Backup, Microsoft Starter 2010, and Windows Live Essentials 2011.
Price range for the 14-inch model starts at $730, while the 13-incher retails for $695 at the lowest.