Accurate touch screen; Crisp sound quality; Solid and slim brushed aluminum design
Sharp edges; Keyboard feels stiff and not backlit;
The Samsung Series 5 UltraTouch is a solid-performing Windows 8 Ultrabook with good sound, but beware of those sharp edges.
Touch-screen Windows 8 notebooks are going mainstream, and Samsung hopes to tap into the trend with its Series 5 UltraTouch NP540U3C. This sleek 13.3-inch Ultrabook features a powerful Core i5 processor and 32GB of ExpressCache paired with a 500GB hard drive for swift performance. And it's all packaged in a brushed aluminum design that weighs less than 4 pounds. Priced at $849, this ultraportable certainly isn't cheap, but it costs only $84 more than a Windows 7 model without touch. Find out how this machine stacks up.
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Design14-inch Series 5 NP530U4B. It features a vertical brushed aluminum lid, which gives way to a thin vertical strip of gray plastic along its top edge. A polished Samsung logo adorns the lid's right side, which adds just a bit of flair. Pop the lid and the same brushed aluminum styling carries over to the Ultra's keyboard deck. However, the bottom of the system is plastic.
Below the 13.3-inch display is a faux speaker grille, to the right of which is the laptop's power button. (The actual speakers are situated on the underside of the system.) The Ultra's keyboard features a matte black coating, while its touchpad gets a gray paint job surrounded by chrome piping, the only real design flourish found under the Ultra's lid.Toshiba Satellite P845t (13.7 x 9.2 x 0.95 ~1.14 inches), as well as the 4.6-pound 14-inch HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 (13.5 x 9.3 x 0.9). To be fair, both of those notebooks have larger 14-inch screens. The 13-inch Sony VAIO T13 Touch is also a heavier 4 pounds.
We have one major complaint about the Series 5 UltraTouch's design. The edges of the system are sharp, which can make typing and even opening and closing the lid uncomfortable. Even swiping in from the sides of the display reminded us that this system could probably slice cheese. This is more of a nitpick, but we also didn't like hearing a mild suction noise whenever lifting the lid, as if the touch screen were stuck to the keyboard.
Unfortunately, viewing angles were subpar, causing the image to wash out at modest angles. The Ultra's display registered 223 lux on our brightness meter, just below the 234 lux average.
Overall, we found the Series 5 UltraTouch's screen to be nicely responsive in the Modern UI and while using Windows 8 gestures. The display responded well to everything from swiping in from the left to switching apps to moving around Live Tiles.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Although slightly stiff, the Series 5 UltraTouch's discrete mouse buttons were responsive and offered a satisfying click when depressed. The Ultra's smooth touchpad was equally as responsive, making it easy to perform Windows 8 gestures. A few times the touchpad's palm rejection failed to kick in, sending our cursor to the top of the screen.
Swipe in from the right side of the screen to launch the Windows 8 Charms menu, where you can access the operating system's Search and Share features, as well as the Start, Devices and Settings menus. Swipe in from the left to access your running apps or swipe up from the bottom while in the Modern UI to open the Apps menu. Swiping down from the top of the screen with an app open will quickly close it.
Bundled Windows 8 apps for the Series 5 UltraTouch include the operating system's News, Mail, Photos, Calendar, Internet Explorer, Skype, SkyDrive and Bing.
Other apps include the popular "Plants vs. Zombies," Music Maker Jam (for making music on your laptop)' and the Samsung Signature Store, which gives users quick access to Samsung products, including tablets, smartphones, speakers, offices printers and more.
MORE: Top 25 Windows 8 Apps
After streaming a full-screen Hulu video, the Series 5 UltraTouch's touchpad registered 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while the keyboard reached 90 degrees. The underside of the laptop climbed to a mild 88 degrees. Although those temperatures are below our 95 degree comfort threshold, there were some hot spots. The middle left portion of the underside reached 103 degrees.
This showing is lower than the 4,131 notched by the HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4, despite the fact that system sports practically identical specs. The Toshiba Satellite P845t-S4310, which includes the same Intel Core i5 processor as the Series 5 and HP, but packs 6GB of RAM as opposed to just 4GB, actually scored lower than its two competitors, registering 2,568.
The Series 5 Ultra's 24GB ExpressCache drive helps it boot Windows 8 in just 17 seconds. While that's slower than the HP Envy TouchSmart's 13-second boot time, it's faster than the Toshiba Satellite P845t's 20 seconds.
The Series 5 Ultra fell in the middle of the pack on our LAPTOP File Transfer test, copying 4.97GB of mixed media files in 3 minutes and 1 second at a rate of 28.1 MBps. The Toshiba Satellite P845t got 23 MBps, while the HP Envy TouchSmart delivered a higher 35 MBps.
Among the above three systems, the Series 5 UltraTouch pulled down the lowest score on the 3DMark11 graphics test: 545. The HP and Toshiba scored 570 and 634, respectively. The average ultraportable gets 768.
Configurations and Warranty
If you need more power, you can opt for the beefier NP540U3C-A01US, which includes 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. If you want the touch-screen experience without the expense, you can pick up the slightly less powerful NP540U3C-A02UB. For $799, you get a 1.8-GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-3217U processor and the same 4GB of RAM, plus a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive and 24GB ExpressCache SSD found in the NP540U3C-A01UB.
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|CPU||1.7-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||4GB|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB + 24GB SSD|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive + mSATA SSD|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235|
|Ports (excluding USB)||mini-VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB|
|Card Slots||3-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1 Year Standard Parts and Labor|
|Size||12.4 x 8.6 x 0.66 ~ 0.78 inches|