Review Price £399.99
Samsung Series 3 NP300E5A - Usability, Screen and Speakers
We’re really rather pleased with the NP300E5A’s isolation keyboard. It’s identical to that found on the Samsung RV720, meaning it provides an excellent layout (media controls on the cursor keys along with a second Fn key are especially appreciated). There’s also a full number pad, though the cursor keys do intrude on the zero.
Feedback, meanwhile, is great. There’s plenty of travel to the large, matt keys, and a defined click to let you know you’ve pressed them. It’s no Lenovo ThinkPad X1, but is certainly a superior typing experience compared to many budget rivals. Our only complaint is that it’s not backlit, but that’s a feature you wouldn’t expect at this price.
As for the huge, multi-touch trackpad, it’s smooth and responsive, and its large buttons offer an easy press and good action. We actually prefer them to those on the RV720, as the buttons here are matt rather than slippery glossy.
So far so good; the NP300E5A has held up rather well. Unfortunately, we hit a few snags when we get to its 15.6in, 1,366 x 768 screen. First impressions are favourable. For starters, its bezel is matt and quite narrow, while the display itself also sports a semi-matt finish, keeping distracting reflections from ambient light sources to a minimum – unlike the glossy RV720.
However, when we get to image quality everything isn’t quite so rosy. Though viewing angles hold up well on casual inspection, watching a dark image reveals severe contrast shift when straying off-centre – and considering dark detailing isn’t exactly impressive to begin with, that’s not a good thing. On the bright side, colours are fairly punchy, backlight bleed was minimal and there were no nasty artefacts. In other words, if your main focus is productivity and you’re not too picky about entertainment, this display will serve you just fine. Otherwise you should probably consider a different laptop.
Audio is actually decent enough, with the up-facing stereo speakers on the NP300E5A managing to swim along with budget rivals. If you keep the volume reasonable you’ll get a fairly clear reproduction with a hint of bass thrown in for good measure, though don’t expect anything a pair of headphones won’t easily better.