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Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C - Screen Quality, Battery Life, Keyboard and Touchpad

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell
Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score

7/10

User Score

Review Price £649.00

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C – Screen Quality

The laptop's screen is a real mixed bag. The Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C display is bright and colours are strong and lifelike. It won’t astound you with rich colours or deep blacks, but they are good enough for most people. Its 1,366 x 768 resolution is the same as 99 per cent of the laptops at this size and price.

But the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C screen fails in two important ways. First are the viewing angles, both horizontal and vertical. So-so viewing angles either side of the screen are tolerable, but the poor vertical angle makes it hard to find the sweet spot to sit in when viewing a video. It always feels like one part of the picture isn’t quite right.

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C 11

Second, but no less important, are the annoying reflections. We’ve come to expect, and ultimately accept, some reflections from laptop screens, but the Samsung Series 5 NP5403C tips things too far. It’s down to the clear layer covering the screen, which we presume is there for the touchscreen. It’s galling given Samsung is one of the few companies to use matt, non-reflective finishes on its non-touch laptops.

Since we’ve mentioned the 10-point multitouch touchscreen, we must point out that it is very accurate and responsive. However, using a touchscreen on an ordinary laptop – as opposed to the convertible hybrid like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 – feels awkward and pointless. The screen wobbles whenever your prod it, too. Given the choice between a touchscreen and fewer reflections, we know which we’d choose.

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C – Battery Life

Like its performance, the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C battery life is good rather than spectacular. It lasted four hours in our intensive Powermark test, which consists of 25 per cent web browsing, 25 per cent video playback, 25 per cent gaming and 25 per cent word processing. That’s five minutes less than the Toshiba Satellite U940 – near enough as makes no difference.

We’ve recently added a less intensive, more representative test that consists of 50 per cent web browsing, 25 per cent video and 25 per cent word processing. In this test the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C battery lasted five hours and five minutes – good enough for a prolonged session but a little short of ‘all day’.

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C 5

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C – Keyboard & Touchpad

The Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C keyboard is far and away its best feature. The layout is spot on, with no weird key placements to trip you up, and keys feel precise and reliable. They’re also very quiet. It’s a pleasure to type on.

The touchpad, meanwhile, has a slightly coarse texture that divides opinion – try before you buy if you can. It’s a good size, however, and has two separate buttons rather than the hit and miss ‘click pads’ some brands (including Samsung) employ. It doesn’t impede typing at all, and supports all the multi-touch gestures we expect.

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Chris Beach

May 9, 2013, 12:03 pm

heh, got the screen resolution, closed the browser tab...when will they learn!

andyvan

May 9, 2013, 12:07 pm

To be fair, I don't think that's much to complain about at this price. If it cost £750 / £800 or upwards, however, I'd agree.

David Gradwell

May 10, 2013, 5:04 pm

So, let's get this right Andy, you're opinion is that we need to pay £800 for a laptop with a decent screen? Why? The screen on my Nexus 7 is absolutely fantastic and it cost £200! It's crazy comments like this from reviewers that drive me potty. Like Chris Beach, I stopped reading the review after seeing the pathetic screen resolution.

andyvan

May 11, 2013, 5:47 am

Hey, don't shoot the messenger. That's the reality right now in laptops. You have to remember that laptops are more expensive to make. The screen's are larger, which is more expensive, and most of the other components cost more as well. Comparing a smartphone or tablet to a laptop is comparing apples and oranges.

Do I think that's right? Of course not, I'm on your side here!

It's worth remembering that resolution isn't the be and all, too. For example, I'd sooner have a high quality panel with a lower resolution than a high resolution one that isn't any good. In the case of this laptop, if it had a high resolution but the reflections and viewing angles were just as bad, I'd have given it the same score. Conversely, if it had the same resolution but solved those two problems, it would have got a much higher score.

PS: Just to illustrate my point about size and cost a little more, remember that a diagonal measurement of screen size doesn't reflect the actual difference in size very well. Going by those, this laptop's screen is only 48% larger than the Nexus 7. Going by the actual area, however, tells a very different story. The Nexus 7 screen is 132.85cm2. A 13.3-inch laptop is 488.02cm2 - 73% larger by area than a Nexus 7. It all adds up - it's the same reason you can't buy a 4K TV for a decent price now.

PPS: On the plus side, I believe Sony is making the right noises about ditching 1366 on laptops. Not sure what the pricing will be, though, as it has never traditionally competed at the low-end of the market.

Chris Beach

May 19, 2013, 7:13 am

Really??? I don't mean 1080p should be on the £400 laptops, but 1440x900, or similar should be. It was before this stupid HD branding appeared. If its £400+ and still 768p then it damn well better be an IPS too.

Given the *main* thing you use is the screen, letting them skimp out on it seems wrong.

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