Samsung Series 5 review
Samsung’s affordable Series 5 is the most sensible Ultrabook to date, but it’s seriously lacking in excitement
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.
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£711|
|Price inc VAT||£853|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||334 x 231 x 22mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2467M|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||465GB|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
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|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|