A notebook that tries to masquerade as an Ultrabook.
The market is flooded with manufacturers touting the latest and slimmest laptops. The Ultrabook seems to be the only thing on people’s minds, and every month we see a new model crop up that promises better battery life while trying to push the limits of both design and weight. The latest contender to weigh in (literally) is the Samsung Series 5 Ultra. At first glance it may look like a sleek and stylish Ultrabook, but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it barely makes the criteria.
Build quality & Design
The Series 5 sports a sleek design with no patterns or other visual treats. The top panel sports a sleek aluminum finish with a metallic Samsung logo on the side. Unfortunately, the metal seems to stop here as opening the lid you’ll find an abundance of plastic surround the screen and keyboard – the palm rest thankfully is brushed metal.
The plastic doesn’t look unsightly in any way, but feels a bit flimsy if you apply a slight bit of pressure to it. In fact, my review unit had the left side popping out, which was rather alarming.
One of the good things about the Series 5 is the abundance of ports on this unit, which is the first red flag that this isn’t a true Ultrabook. While traditional Ultrabooks often sport a minimum number of ports, there plenty of connectivity options available here. On the left side of the unit is the power connector, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, as well as VGA and HDMI output and a combine headphone/microphone jack. On the opposite side is an optical drive, USB 2.0 port, and 4 in 1 memory card reader. Again, the inclusion of an optical drive is a telltale sign that this isn’t a true Ultrabook.
Screen and Keyboard
The screen on the Series 5 is certainly impressive. It has a matte finish rather than a glossy one, which makes it great for use in outside conditions. While some colors and whites aren’t reproduced as accurately, it’s a small price to play for a laptop screen that you can actually see in direct sunlight.
The keyboard adopts a standard chiclet style which is the same on most other notebooks and Ultrabooks. While I still prefer a traditional keyboard layout, typing wasn’t too much of a problem as the keys were of the right size and spaced out evenly enough. Brightness, audio, Wi-fi and other settings are controlled by the function keys at the top of the keyboard, and Samsung’s on-screen software will let you know when you’ve activated a function key. I noticed that at times there was a slight delay between when a function key was pressed and being activated. One gripe I have is that the keyboard is not backlit, which is something I’ve now come to expect of most notebooks and even Ultrabooks. The other complaint is that I found the palmrest slightly uncomfortable after extended periods of use – the metal edge does leave quite an impression in your hands if you’re using this notebook for a lengthy period of time.
The spacious trackpad at the bottom is great for navigating around Windows, and also supports multi-gestures like two finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. It’s not clickable though, so you’ll have to tap on the trackpad or use the buttons at the bottom. While the buttons were of a decent size, I found them to be little too ‘clicky’ when used repeatedly.