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Samsung Series 5 535U3C review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Sleek, slim and attractive
  • Decent matt screen
  • Good speakers
  • Upgradeable

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Mediocre performance

Key Features

  • 13.3in 1366 x 768 matt TN screen
  • A6-4455M 2.1GHz, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD
  • Slim and sleek, metal lid
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £469.97

Intro

We don’t all have wads of cash burning holes in our pockets, and unfortunately that means we can’t all afford MacBook Airs or top-end Ultrabooks like the Samsung Series 9 900X3B. However, Samsung still has a very stylish offering for those after a more affordable 13-inch ultraportable: its AMD-based Series 5 535U3C.

Available for under £500, the Samsung Series 5 535U3C-A01 certainly doesn’t look like a cheap laptop. It sports a lovely brushed metal chassis and a matt screen, while on its inside we have some decent specs including a 2.1GHz AMD A6 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Can this slim and light ultraportable laptop win us over?

Samsung Series 5 535U3C 3

Samsung Series 5 535U3C – Design and Build

While not quite as stunning as its Series 9 laptops, it must be said that Samsung’s Series 5 535U3C need not be ashamed to be seen amongst rivals costing twice as much. At just 17.6mm thin at its thickest point and weighing just over 1.5kg, this is a remarkably slim and light ‘budget’ ultraportable made to look thinner still by its gently tapering edges.

Its materials also look the part with a brushed aluminium lid and fiber-glass re-enforced base. Fingerprints are not really an issue, though grease marks can be visible from certain angles. Basically, in terms of aesthetics the Series 5 535U3C shares a lot of its DNA with the Series 7 Chronos, and that’s no bad thing.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C 6

Build quality is concurrently good. Naturally it can’t match the solid slabs of aluminium that make up the Air and Series 9, but there’s no sign of unwanted creak or flex, panels are beautifully fitted, and it all feels very sturdy. The only exception is the hinge, which did protest audibly on occasion with our sample but still offered good action.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C – Connectivity

Connectivity is generous for a slim laptop. On the left you’ll find a slim Gigabit Ethernet jack, a USB 3.0 port, HDMI for video output, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack. There’s also a discreet microVGA port which works with the included adapter.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C 1

On the right we have twin USB 2.0 ports along with a full-size SDXC card slot. Wireless is handled by the usual Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi N combo.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C – Keyboard and Touchpad

Thankfully, this Series 5 offers a pretty nice typing experience and excellent layout that’s very similar to that found on most of the company’s other 13-inch laptops. As you might expect, what’s missing here is keyboard backlighting, but at its price point that’s forgivable.

The matt black chiclet keys give a decent amount of travel with a nice click, and though it doesn’t live up to the superb keyboards on most Lenovo laptops, it’s still ahead of some of the competition.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C 4

Unlike its higher-end siblings, the touchpad doesn’t integrate its buttons, an approach many will actually prefer since it prevents accidental clicks. There’s still plenty of room for multi-touch gestures on the comfy pad though, and its large buttons depress with just the right kind of click.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C – Screen and Speakers

The Series 5 535U3C’s 13.3-inch display is fairly good as budget laptop screens go, despite being at first glance a rather disappointing TN panel with a bog-standard 1,366 x 768 resolution. For starters, as we already mentioned it sports a matt finish, meaning no annoying reflections. Viewing angles, while nothing to write home about, are also decent by TN standards, so you can watch a movie when sitting off-angle as long as you tilt the display right.

Samsung Series 5 535U3C 7

Colours are fairly punchy and, though blacks are far from deep, at least dark detailing is superb. Topping it off is even backlighting with no obvious bleed, making this Samsung Series 5’s screen one of the better budget laptop efforts we’ve seen. Still we can’t help but hope that the superior, high-resolution IPS panels so common in even affordable tablets like the Google Nexus 7, will soon become standard on laptops too.

On the audio side of things the Series 5 535U3C holds up well too. Though they’re short on bass and suffer from the occasional bit of distortion, this ultraportable’s stereo efforts produce audio that’s loud, has a sense of depth, and decent clarity at the mid and high end; headphones are recommended but not required.

Wizzerman

March 3, 2013, 3:23 pm

There are many things to like about this laptop, hence the reason that I bought it in the first place. The A6 processor uses very low power, yet the integration of a graphics chip mean that I can play (on low settings) pretty much any PC game out there as well as it looking pretty good as a ultra-book type laptop. I swapped out the stock hard drive for an SSD which means that it boots and runs really quickly. So far so good.

4 months after having owned it, the screen started to be more wobbly than it had before. I looked around the back and noticed that the plastic join on the right hand side had come away a bit. I didn't think anything of this and carried on using it. (Note that the laptop had up to this point been lovingly looked after and certainly never dropped). Every time that I opened the laptop after this, however, the crack opened up a bit more until about 5 days later the right hand side hinge completely broke off.

I dutifully took this to the authorised samsung repair shop in London and was told after 3 days that because this was "physical damage" I was not at all entitled to a repair under warranty. I protested but there was no way that they were going to do this. The cost for the repair was quoted at around £300, which given that I had bought the laptop for under £500 seemed a bit rich.

So I carried on using the now very broken laptop for about another 2 months a which point the left hand side hinge did exactly the same - over a period of 3 days usage it completely broke off. So now I have a laptop that is irreparably damaged / completely useless and I am at least £300 down if I choose to have it repaired. I can't believe that this is an isolated incident with this model.

Samsung, if you are listening to this 1) I will never again ever buy a Samsung product, and I will do my very best to tell every single person that I know to do likewise 2) you are criminally complicit in selling a sub standard product and not honouring to repair it or provide me with a new one 3) Don't you think that when someone comes into one of your authorised repair shops with a fault on your machine after this machine only having been on the market for 5 months that it would be better to take this machine away and try to understand what the problem is, rather than handing it back to me so that lots of other people can discover later the same problem.

Yours one extremely annoyed and desperately unhappy customer.

sebarms@hotmail.com

March 15, 2013, 6:20 pm

I would buy the store extended warranty I did not and the Samsung warranty is useless. NOT HAPPY

Roman Herrle

June 10, 2013, 3:51 pm

If you should think of buying the 535U3C (with AMD), don't do it.
The ventilator does not even last for half a year, and you don't get guarantee either if you're running a different OS like LINUX or an upgraded Windows (* instead of the installed 7 Home). The best is, that they even do not have the ventilator in stock, nor do they know when they will get it!

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