Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed....quite a lot in fact, 24 Oct 2012
By 
This review is from: Samsung Series 5 530U3B 13.3 inch Ultrabook (Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD, 16GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) (Personal Computers)
I bought one of these Ultrabooks last week, but after having it for 24 hours I've unfortunately had to book its passage back to Amazon.

The first thing I noticed about it is how thin it is - it's sleek-looking, feels solid and is light for its size - it weighs in at 1.5kg (probably mainly due to it not having an optical drive), which is very handy for a laptop with a 13.3-inch screen. Speaking of the screen it's of the non-reflective variety, which is a pleasant change these days - I've never been a fan of the trend nowadays of having screens with a reflective covering. However, the vertical viewing angles on this screen are very poor - probably the worst I've seen, so a plus and a minus.

This laptop feels solid, rigid and there's no flex in it, presumably because the lid, screen bezel and wrist rest are made of aluminium - the bottom of the case is fibre-glass. I thought the choice of fibre-glass sounded odd but on reflection and having used the computer for 24 hours I can sort of understand it now - it's probably because of the amount of heat generated by this computer - fibre glass is probably better than plastic at resisting heat distortion. This is the hottest laptop I've ever used! It's so hot in fact that you simply can't use it on your lap for any more than about 15-20 minutes without it becoming uncomfortable. Feeling the underside it's literally hot enough to burn your hand. This concerned me because subjecting electronics to high temperatures shortens their lifespan, and as this is what I think an expensive laptop, I understandably wanted to keep it working for as long as possible. There is only one row of tiny ventilation slots on the underside of the case at the left and none anywhere else, so this probably contributes to the high temperatures. The keyboard also becomes noticeably hot during use as well. Fan noise though was almost inaudible.

On the subject of the keyboard, it's very nice and works well. No flex that I noticed and very comfortable to type on - as good as a Lenovo I think. And no in case you're wondering, it's not backlit.

The touchpad didn't win me over, and I think it's actually a bit too big, but this is only my personal taste. My old laptop (Lenovo) had a Synaptics touchpad which had an amazingly useful feature - circular scrolling - which allowed you to scroll down a page by drawing a clockwise circle on the touchpad, or scroll up with an anti-clockwise circle. This Samsung doesn't have that, which I find very annoying and is something I'd find very hard to get used to - it only has single or two-fingered dragging from the top of the touchpad to the bottom, and when you reach the bottom you have to start again at the top, which isn't as smooth or productive as circular scrolling, which you can do as long as you want. There are two separate buttons for left- and right-clicking below the pad - well done Samsung for not using a single bar (or none at all like some other manufacturers) - but these are a little thin and flimsy. The click is quite loud too, so be aware of this if you want to use it somewhere quiet.

The thing that really surprised me about this laptop was its lack of speed - it's actually quite slow for an Intel Core i5. A friend has the 14-inch version of this laptop which has exactly the same processor, exactly the same amount of RAM and an identical hard drive (Hitachi 500GB with integrated SanDisk 16GB SSD), and starting it from cold he's able to use Windows 7 in about 25 seconds. Mine takes more than twice that - 53 seconds (we timed it several times) - and to rub salt into the wound my old Levovo Ideapad S205 (AMD E350 processor and 250 quid cheaper) took a mere 61 seconds in comparison! As part of my reason for buying this laptop was the fast boot, I'm understandably a bit disappointed in not seeing it, and the performance just feels slow overall. It's set up in exactly the same way as my mate's laptop, but the performance is a world away and certainly not worth the asking price.

That aside there was unfortunately a problem with the Wi-Fi on my laptop - it seemed to be a little "deaf" and didn't receive reliably. Strong signals from my home network were very weak on this laptop, less than half the strength than on my 8-year old Dell laptop, with a few spots where there was only 1 bar of signal and many dropouts/stutters when watching BBC iPlayer or listening to online radio! There were also problems at my mate's place, where the connection dropped a few times over a couple of hours, which is something I never experienced with my Dell, tablet or old Lenovo. From my living room I can "see" 17 different wireless networks on my Dell - on this laptop I can see only 4, so there's definitely a sensitivity issue which seems to be a recurring problem with Samsung devices - I had a Samsung netbook a few years ago and two Galaxy Tabs which all had a similar problem.

I ordered this laptop in September and have been waiting for it to come back into stock at Amazon. I was really looking forward to getting it and really wanted to like it, but in all honesty it's been a bit of a disappointment in a few areas, one of which is so serious that keeping it wasn't an option.

There's no doubt that it IS a looker and WILL get glances when you're sitting in the coffee shop, but unfortunately it's a bit of a supermodel of laptops - the performance doesn't quite measure up to the looks. Maybe I should have said "bimbo" instead, lol!

The Wi-Fi issue makes this a definite no-go. With Wi-Fi being essential on a laptop nowadays, having one with unreliable Wi-Fi is a bit like having a car with unreliable windscreen wipers - it'll not stop you using it, but it WILL seriously limit it's usefulness.

If this wasn't bad enough, the high heat levels too are serious concerns for me, and whilst it's a personal thing the usability of the touchpad is an issue too as it makes it more difficult to use.

Some final observations: the front edge of the case on mine was razor sharp and I almost sliced my wrist open on it when using the touchpad, so BE CAREFUL!

The photos of the machine on Amazon's website aren't quite the same as what I received. The website shows indicators for caps, scroll and number lock just above the Esc key, but these weren't on the laptop I received, which again was a tiny disappointment.

I do hate the trend now which most manufacturers are following of not having a status LED even for Caps Lock. Worse still are no status LEDs for hard drive activity, power, charging, Wi-Fi etc. and to their credit, Samsung seem to be one of the few manufacturers who still include some status LEDs on their laptops. LEDs only cost a few pence so there's absolutely no excuse for not including such useful things on laptops - the lack of them on other brands is one of the reasons I decided to try Samsung this time. Why should I have to guess if the hard drive is reading data or if the machine has locked up?

Anyway, I hope my comments help someone - writing this has made me realise how disappointed I actually am with this laptop.

I do hope your experiences are better :-) Maybe I got a "bad 'un".
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Apr 2013 18:41:35 BDT
S. Moore says:
I bought this machine from PC World and was initially delighted, but then it kept dropping the wifi signal. Reconnecting was a pain. I thought it was BT to begin with but when all other devices in the house worked I had to admit it was the machine. I Googled connection problems and found that others had experienced the same. I checked to see if the network adapter had the most recent driver. It had. I reloaded it. The problems persisted. I took it back and got a full refund. Samsung should not put these products on the shelves. Deeply disappointed. Felt good, looked good, but when its basic function is useless it really is not fit for purpose. Avoid like the plague.
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