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Samsung Series 5 530U 14in – Connectivity, Usability and Screen

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The Samsung Series 5 530U’s connectivity is simply superb by Ultrabook standards. Only the Toshiba Satellite Z830 comes close, and still doesn’t offer an optical drive. On the left we have a Gigabit Ethernet port to start with, which is a little too fat to fit and therefore uses the same hinged flap system we saw on the Samsung Series 7 Chronos and Series 9. It’s a nice solution, though under rare circumstances it could prove a potential snagging or even breaking point.

The Ethernet port is followed by twin USB 3.0 ports. These are a little close together for comfort, but there is a third USB port on the laptop’s other side. Next up is good old VGA, which we hoped we had seen the last of on Samsung’s machines with the adapter-using microVGA port on the Chronos. For a consumer laptop, we would argue having it in its original form is at best an eyesore, but we guess it’s there if you need it. Of course HDMI is also available for video output, followed by a microphone/headphone combi jack.

On the right there’s an SDXC memory card reader, single USB 2.0 port, and the attractively recessed optical drive. For video conferencing there’s the 1.3MP HD webcam with noise-cancelling microphone and, last but not least, on wireless duties we have those two good amigos, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0.

Samsung keeps the ball nicely rolling when it comes to usability. Though not backlit on account of the Series 5 530U’s affordable price, the well-laid-out chiclet keyboard is still great to use, with the thicker chassis allowing more travel than most and a satisfying click to its key action. Only the Lenovo IdeaPad u300s is nicer to type on, among Ultrabooks.

The touchpad breaks from Ultrabook tradition by offering distinct, physical buttons, but doesn’t suffer for it. The touch area is large and smooth, and never feels less than responsive. Its buttons may be semi-glossy but still manage to avoid fingerprints, and their feedback is just as positive as the keyboard’s.

So far the Samsung Series 5 530U has done really well, but screens are a traditional weak point for Ultrabooks, which - despite their premium build, specifications and prices - still use ‘cheap’ TN panels with inherently poor viewing angles.

As is becoming ever more popular, the Samsung Series 5 530U4B-A01 squeezes a 14in display into what is essentially a 13in chassis (it measures 33cm across where your average 13in Ultrabook is 32cm). It also sports a matt screen finish, and Samsung has said that all of its laptop screens will be matt going forward. This is a brave decision for which we can only applaud the company, as it cuts down on annoying reflections and glare.

This, combined with a high brightness rating of 300nits, makes the screen usable outdoors in moderate sunshine. Only the resolution is ordinary, with the usual 1,366 x 768 pixels. But then, the Asus Zenbook UX31 is one of the only Ultrabooks to buck this trend with its 1,600 x 900 display.

Otherwise the 14in 530U’s screen continues to impress. Dark detailing is excellent, with even the subtlest tonal variations showing up in gloomy movies and games. Colours too are reasonably accurate and vibrant - for a matt display, anyway. Backlighting is even with no noticeable bleed and there are no nasty artefacts.

Last but not least, though vertical viewing angles are as weak as on any other TN panel, horizontal ones are good. We’re yet to see a laptop TN display to match the superb example on the Series 9, but the Series 5 530U is still up there with the best of the rest.

Jon Williamson

March 2, 2012, 9:47 pm

I am sorely tempted by an ultrabook - but is it my imagination, or do none of them have built in 3G connectivity? This is key for me on the move...

prowan743

March 3, 2012, 6:47 am

I think anyone considering this laptop should also consider Sony's S Series, which is virtually identical in size and weight to the Samsung (though not classified as an 'Ultrabook', since the term was not around when it was launched a year ago).

https://secure.trustedreviews....

It features dedicated graphics, keyboard backlighting, a higher resolution screen (1600x900 on the SA series), an optical drive (with Blu-Ray if you want it) and an SSD also available. It can also be configured with wireless WAN, JonWill, which will give you built-in 3G connectivity. There is also an optional battery slice to extend the battery life. It can be customised to your hearts content on the Sony website and is also keenly priced (I believe Sony will probably launch a new version in the coming months). I'm in the market for something along the lines of the Samsung so it's a toss up between this and the Sony for me. Would be interested to hear the thoughts of the TR team on this.

TechVegan

March 3, 2012, 2:43 pm

@JonWill:
Totally with you there, a dongle is not always an ideal solution.
You're right, there are very few 3G options at the moment. However, if you can hold on just a little longer it will be finding its way into many Ultrabooks this year - in fact we should be reviewing the first one soon(ish). :)
If you do want something now, prowan743's suggestion is good, or you could go for the http://www.trustedreviews.com/... which is one of the cheapest and best 3G-enabled laptops we've encountered.

@prowan743:
It's a good alternative - as long as you don't mind the noise. Is an optical drive something you're particularly after?

Williamn

April 1, 2012, 8:24 am

I have a Samsung laptop and they are usually good.

mage

March 4, 2013, 3:06 am

DOES this laptop have a Dedicated Graphic Processor

Ishita N.

August 26, 2013, 6:15 pm

At first the specs and pricing of this laptop looks good and tempting to
buy. But this laptop is made for cheap components and will stop
working soon after its warranty period. In 9 months my HDMI stopped
working. They replaced the entire motherboard. 4 months after that, my
laptop stopped supporting standby and hibernate modes due to faulty
chip on motherbaord. Warranty had expired so I was asked to cough up
1/3rd the cost of the brand new laptop just for the motherboard. My
argument was that the motherboard was replaced 4 months back and should
have lasted atleast another year. My argument fell on deaf years.
Another 15 days and my hard disk has stopped working too. Cheap
components and poor replacements makes this laptop not a long term buy.
Buyer beware.

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