Samsung Series 5 review

6 Mar 2012

Samsung’s affordable Series 5 is the most sensible Ultrabook to date, but it’s seriously lacking in excitement

Price when reviewed 
853
4

While other manufacturers have been busily trimming the fat from their Ultrabooks, Samsung’s approach looks to be a little more sensible. Instead of shedding every last gram, the 14in £853 Series 5 places the emphasis back on the practical, putting back the ports and optical drive missing from its peers.

Those after the slimmest, sexiest Ultrabook on the market will come away disappointed. At 22mm from base to lid, this is no slender stunner. It’s more thick-set than your average Ultrabook, and a weight of 1.76kg is on the high side, too: every other machine in our recent Ultrabook Labs tipped the scales at less than 1.4kg. And despite the relative hefty figure, the Series 5 isn’t the sturdiest around. Grapple with the Series 5’s silvery chassis, and the flexible plastic is nowhere near as bombproof as Asus’s Zenbooks or Dell’s XPS 13.

Samsung Series 5

There’s plenty to like, though: the Scrabble-tile keyboard has an entirely sensible layout, with well-spaced keys and a seriously wide right-Shift key making it easy to quickly get up to speed. The slight bounce in the base puts it behind the best of the Ultrabook bunch, but the keys feel responsive enough for it not to matter.

The touchpad also sees the Series 5’s sensible streak shine through, and where rivals ape Apple’s Macbook Airs with their large clickable glass touchpads, the Samsung has separate, physical buttons. We’ve only seen one other Ultrabook include these – the Toshiba Portégé Z830 – and the Samsung’s are just as good. They’re pleasingly wide and respond with the same crisp click.

Samsung has packed in plenty of connectivity, too. Most of the ports are bunched up on the left side of the machine (the right-hand edge is largely occupied by the DVD writer), and there are two USB 3 ports, one USB 2, a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI, D-SUB and a 4-in-1 card reader. It’s a welcome departure from the Ultrabook norm.

Samsung Series 5

Sitting above the keyboard is the Samsung’s 14in display. With a 1,366 x 768 native resolution and a seriously bright LED backlight – we measured it at 351cd/m2 – this matte panel delivers eyeball-searing images without the intrusive reflections of its glossy rivals. It’s great for more serious pursuits, with the high brightness and matte finish maintaining legibility even under bright sunlight.

Image quality could be improved, however, with greyish blacks robbing darker images of depth and detail. The Samsung’s contrast ratio of 158:1 is seriously disappointing. Colours aren’t particularly accurate, either, and the Series 5’s different screen modes only offer only a slight improvement. We found its “Sharp” mode to be the best bet: while it didn’t improve contrast or black levels, there was a slight improvement in colour accuracy.

Details

Price ex VAT £711
Price inc VAT £853
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 334 x 231 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.760kg
Travelling weight 2.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 465GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Battery capacity 6,120mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 37min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 14min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 21fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.53
Responsiveness score 0.68
Media score 0.54
Multitasking score 0.37

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7