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.
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.
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’.
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.