Customer Review

100 of 131 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars APPALLING - AVOID!!!, 16 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Samsung 350E7C 17.3-inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i7 3630QM 2.4GHz Processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, DVDSM DL, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, AMD Radeon Graphics, Windows 8) (Personal Computers)
Before buying this, reading the hardware specs, it sounds pretty good - big hard drive, latest software, lots ram. Sounds perfect.
Received the product, loaded on all the software I needed. Start of nightmare days, sleepless nights, hair torn out by roots (well, not quite at that point, but getting close.....!!!!).
ok, what no one is telling you, and there is NOTHING at all in the spec to tell you, is that there are some fundamental changes, which have been made, which SERIOUSLY constrain the way you can use this machine.
First, you cannot boot from a USB - that functionality is gone.
Secondly, you cannot boot from the CD drive - that functionality is gone.
There is no way in the BIOS (the new EUFI secure boot setup) to even alter the boot order.
Therefore there is no way to install other operating systems, and especially, no way to set up a dual boot system.
If you google: 144204-linux-slowly-comes-to-windows-8-pcs-with-uefi-secure-boot
and select the article listed at extremetech [dot]com, and look at the comments underneath the article, you will see that MANY MANY people are very unhappy with the new BIOS replacement that has been put into this machine - basically it stops you booting from usb or dvd, and therefore effectively from loading on any other operating system, or even setting up a dual boot.
Additionally, when you receive this machine, there are SIX (yes that is 6 !!!!) different partitions loaded up already!!!!
This is absolutely RIDICULOUS, and suggest that the way this has been set up has been slapdash and pathetic.
There should be ONE partition, and they should supply you with a set of Recovery Discs - but NO! There are no recovery discs at all supplied!
Instead they have seized some of your hard disk and used that for what they call a 'Recovery Partition' - the only problem is that they have set up THREE (yes 3!!) seperate Recovery Partitions on the hard disk - so it is wasteful of your hard disk, makes the whole hard disk setup messy and badly designed, and makes it difficult to apportion new partitions if you want to install new software and operating systems. Indeed some people on forums have stated that this is why Microsoft and their partners, such as Samsung, have done it this way - to prevent other competing operating systems from being able to be loaded. When you take this in conjunction with the inability to boot from usb or CD drive (and therefore complete inability to load other operating systems eg for dual boot) then you can see that there is some credibility to these statements.
Overall, all these constrictions on the computer architecture make it feel very unfriendly, and difficult to use.
I also find it very telling that there is absolutely NO REFERENCE AT ALL to all these problems that arise from the UEFI bios replacement system that is installed in this machine - there is nothing in the spec even hinting at this or even at the existence of the UEFI. But the fact is, that this causes a lot of problems, and changes the whole character of the machine. Samsung COULD have built in a switch to have enabled UEFI to be turned off, for instance if you needed to be able temporarily to boot from a usb or to have usb boot functionality, but they have decided not to. Shame on them. Whether it is because they are getting some kickback from Microsoft for helping them to stop customers loading on other competing operating systems is not clear, but you have to wonder.....Anyway, what they have done here, is just a mess, and has basically, in my opinion, just destroyed a good high spec machine.
To my mind, there is no point having the high spec hardware if they have taken away a major and required, and necessary chunk of functionality.
OVERALL - I am VERY, VERY DISSAPPOINTED, and am now very close to returning this machine, and going for an ubuntu machine from another manufacturer, who have not used UEFI to constrain and choke the design and the customer choices.
If you don't mind having SIX partitions already set up on your machine, with god knows what kind of monitoring of all your activities being recorded in there, and being sent back to microsoft, then fine, go ahead.
BUT if you have any consideration for the privacy of your data, and your computer usage, then allowing the manufacturer and supplier to fill up your partitions with god knows what (3 recovery partitions for god's sake - I ask you, how can this be legitimate?) and to pre-install at least SIX partitions, well this is just NOT RIGHT. Anyone can see that.
SO OVERALL, ALTHOUGH INITIALLY IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD PRODUCT, WITH THE BENEFIT OF EXPERIENCE, WOULD NOW SAY AVOID THIS LIKE THE PLAGUE.
THE UEFI AND THE PARTITIONS SETUP, SHOWS A LACK OF RESPECT FOR CUSTOMER CHOICE, CUSTOMER FREEDOM, AND SHOWS PARTICULARLY BAD DESIGN CHOICES, AND POOR ARCHITECTURE DESIGN - not what I want to reward with almost a thousand pounds of my money with.
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Comments

Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jan 2013 22:41:12 GMT
Ioan R. Hard says:
If you press shift while on poweroff in windows 8 you can acces UEFI, from there you can change the boot order and enable windows 7 to be instaleed. the bad thing is that you must buy a windows 7, thank god i had one. Windows 7 runs more smootly. Hope this helps. Overall is a good machine.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 03:36:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jan 2013 03:44:07 GMT
Hi Ioan, thanks for your comment, and I really do wish it was that simple buddy. When I said I had spent sleepless nights, and nightmarish days, and was so frustrated I was almost at the point of pulling my hair out, this was not exaggeration. I mean, I tried everything. Trust me, I have spent days and days trying to get around these problems, and there is just no way.
Yes, in the literature, there are supposed to be 2 ways that you can get to boot from a usb. In practise, neither of them actually work, because Microsoft have invalidated all that functionality in the motherboards bios (new UEFI) firmware - ie it is all hard coded not to work, unless the software you are trying to boot from has a recognised signature password/hash which is recognised by the microsoft software. However, microsoft have REFUSED to give out the necessary cryptographic signatures to any other operating system companies, meaning that no other software can be recognised when you try to insert it for usb/cd drive boot - the UEFI simply ignores it.
Have a look at this great article for a full explanation of the disastrous design microsoft have implemented for UEFI which has caused all these problems: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/144204-linux-slowly-comes-to-windows-8-pcs-with-uefi-secure-boot
And particularly have a look at all the comments below the article, and you will see what is really going on here, and why microsoft wants to choke and constrict YOUR OWN machine, that you have paid for from your own money - they still want to exercise ABSOLUTE control over it, even though it is supposed to be YOUR MACHINE, paid with from your own money. They don't care about that.
ok, so going back to your mail - yes, TECHNICALLY there are supposed to be 2 ways to get to boot from usb - the one you have mentioned and also to go into PC Settings, - General Tab, Select Advanced Startup, click 'Restart Now' button, and then boot options fades into view.
However, in reality, neither of them works or has any effect at all. You put in your usb, and it is just totally ignored. TOTALLY IGNORED!!!!! As I say, if you read the article I have recommended, you will see that this is intentional on microsoft's part, unless your software has a recognised cryptographic signature from microsoft, which of course microsoft has REFUSED to give to any other company. So in other words, microsoft has hijacked your own machine. It is ridiculous, and some people are even saying it is illegal. Certainly it is anti-competitive and monopolistic.
Anyway, just to clarify, regarding the 'official' (but actually USELESS) method which you have referred to:
ok, first of all, you press Shift while pressing the RESTART button, NOT the shut down button.
Then you get a new screen with the title 'Choose An Option' with 4 options listed below:
1) Continue - exit and continue to Windows 8
2) Use a Device - use a usb drive, network connection or windows recovery dvd
3) Troubleshoot - refresh or reset your PC or use advanced settings
4) Turn off your PC
ok you can see that what we would like is the second option, number 2, to use a device, namely a usb.
ok so we select that option, number 2.
we then get a new screen which has the heading 'Use a Device'
On that screen, there are 2 icons with writing to the right hand side of each of them, as follows:
Icon 1 - UEFI: IP4 Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller
Icon 2 - UEFI: IP6 Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller

Now regardless of which option you choose there, the machine just returns to a standard windows 8 bootup, and the windows 8 screen comes up again.
So in other words, despite all this, the machine COMPLETELY IGNORES everything you have just done, and just returns to a standard windows 8 bootup. I could use stronger words to express some measure of my disgust, but let me just remain a gentleman and say 'it just dont' frigging work!!!'

So I appreciate what you are saying that it is a good machine. That is why I bought the thing in the first place, because looking at the specs - nice big hard drive, lots ram, latest software, I obviously thought so too.
BUT......BUT, when I see that microsoft have effectively choked my machine, preventing any other operating system from being loaded at all, and also controlling MY new machine so effectively that I cannot boot from a usb or cd drive, then my friend I have to say it is NOT a good machine. How can it be, when I can't use it the way I want to? I could do more with the old Windows XP and bios setup. At least then my machine was not being choked and constricted.
So I appreciate that for whatever reason, you are trying to defend the machine.
Unfortunately though, it just dosen't have the required functionality, and I can now see that ANY machines with this new UEFI microsoft technology are going to be useless.
If it wasn't for that, yes, great machine.
But when it can't do what you need, when the whole architecture has been choked and locked down by this new unbelievably restrictive UEFI setup, then the machine just cannot do what is required, and therefore is just basically, useless.
I have just spent almost seven hundred pounds of my own money on this machine, and I have spent days trying to sort it out and get it working, but to no avail. So I also have made a mistake, and been an idiot, and got burned with this machine.
Luckily, Amazon have said they will take it back and give me a refund.
Anyway, I am sure we will have microsoft sympathizers and their agents (well, it is a multi-billion dollar company!!) trying to come on here and say everything is great, and all is well. But if you want the truth, then check out the link I provided above, and see the comments from all the other people on there, and analysis of why this has been done, in the way it has been done, and you will begin to see that there is some activity there, which, if not actually illegal (and anti-competitive IS actually illegal) is certainly not quite right.
Thanks for listening.
Listen, at the end of the day, it is your money - you buy what you want.
But I just want to explain things which no one else is talking about, and which there is NO MENTION of on the specs that are given for the machine when you are thinking to buy it. At least now, you have a more informed position from which to make your choices.
Take care.
Kind Regards,
Tony Richards
3.35am, 17 Jan 2013.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2013 11:06:42 GMT
Anonymous says:
The reason you cannot boot from a USB device or optical media is because you have 'secure boot' enabled. Secure boot is designed to help prevent malware infested PC's from being able to boot and spread that malware. This is a great idea - most users are not tech savvy, and this will hopefully slow down the huge problem of malware.

Found these instructions after a quick search (translated from Russian):

You need to do the following:
1. When you turn on the laptop and press F2 to enter setup BIOS.
2. In BIOS'e, tab Boot, change the value of Secure Boot for Disabled (and the system will issue a warning, click OK).
3. Will be extended OS Mode Selection, select UEFI and Legacy OS (and the system will issue a warning, click OK).
4. Press F10 in the dialog box, select Yes (the laptop will reboot.)
5. Press F2 and enter in the BIOS.
6. In BIOS'e, tab Boot, select Boot Device Priority and F5/F6 keys to set the required boot device to the top of the list.
7. Press F10 in the dialog box to select Yes (the laptop will reboot.)
8. In BIOS'e laptop, tab Advanced, disable Fast Bios Mode, save the settings (F10-> Yes), exit the BIOS and then will be available to download from USB. To boot from the CD, paragraph 8, you can not perform.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2013 17:50:02 GMT
So, please keep it coming. This is all news to me - I don't think your average user necessarily realises most of this aspect of modern computing (though I see it is rearing its ugly mug increasingly in the field of tablerts with the closed world of Amazon and the IPad - a factor which means I have purchased neither). Have you concluded there is a way round the problem in practice? Thanks for further input.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2013 01:37:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jan 2013 02:01:07 GMT
Hi Anon, thanks for your reply.
I have returned the machine now back to Amazon, so I am way past it now, but anyway, just thought I would give quick reply.
As I said in long reply above, yes technically you should be able to boot, at least from CD drive - and eventually I found a way to do that, but you ABSOLUTELY cannot boot from a usb with this particular machine. Trust me, I spent days and nights on nothing but trying to sort this, and there is no way around it. And even then when you turn off Secure Boot and with some buggering about can add cd drive into boot order, it DOES NOT MEAN that you will actually be able to boot from that media, because it ALSO DEPENDS on whether that software on that media is also recognised and accepted by the uefi software - in other words, whether microsoft has authorised cryptographic hash keys for that software to be recognised by the uefit setup - and of course, almost all software is NOT recognised because microsoft has deliberately not released the necessary cryptographic keys to rival operating systems. Anyway, even ignoring all that, and even assuming that you can boot from a cd drive, you still can't boot from usb, or get an alternative operating system loaded for dual boot. It does seem that the uefi setup varies from manufacturer to manufacturer - so that some mfrs allow the uefit and secure boot to be turned off completely - obviously making things easier. But for this particular machine, it seems the whole setup is locked down pretty tight - as I say, you can, with some buggering about, boot from cd drive, ASSUMING that the restrictive uefit setup even allows your software to be recognised - which if you check out the link I gave in my long reply above, you will see that very often ANY OTHER software IS NOT ALLOWED - ie not recognised, so even having boot capability from cd drive is pretty much next to useless. As I said, and if you read the linked article, you will see that this is pretty much because microsoft don't want any other competing operating systems on the machine.
As I said in my original long reply, TECHNICALLY, you should be able to do all sorts of things, but because samsung have made the uefi on this machine overly restrictive, these technically possible options are worthless in actuality. As I say, I spent days and days on it, and did not send my machine back without long drawn out hours of contemplation on the pro's and con's of the machine - but in the end, the whole setup was just too restrictive. And we have not even addressed the issue of the SIX different partitions pre-set up on this machine. And you can't even just wipe the whole machine, remove all the operating system, to reinstall, because the UEFI will get in the way of doing that, you have no recovery discs, you cannot remove the partitions because recovery discs are actually written to reserved 'recovery partitions' on the hard disk, as well as there being reserved 'EFI' partitions. All in all, it is just a real bloody mess. As I say, trust me, I spent days and days trying to work out and think if I could sort the machine out - I even considered totally wiping everything off the hard drive, removing all partitions, and even buying a new copy of windows 8 to install fresh on machine - but no, it just won't work, because of the restrictive way it has all been set up.
And as you said - you have found these instructions, and translated from russian. Good on you, to find that. But trust me, I have been thru it all, and have spent days and days going thru one set of technical instructions after another, to find that IN PRACTICE, all of them are totally ineffective, except for that eventually I could as you say, turn off secure boot, and get the cd drive to appear as a boot possibility, but you know, that is not enough to make this machine ok, or acceptable - at least for me. I need FULL FUNCTIONALITY, without reams of constrictions. And when any other operating system I might be trying to load via a cd drive boot, is JUST TOTALLY IGNORED, then having cd boot capability is in practise useless. COMPLETELY USELESS.
And just to repeat, if you read the article I provided as a link, you will see that UEFI and secure boot COULD have been implemented in such a way that all other operating systems COULD have been recognised by the UEFI setup. BUT microsoft and their partner companies, no doubt under pressure from MS, have implemented this idea in an overly restrictive fashion, such that other operating systems ARE NOT RECOGNISED, and therefore ignored (for example if you were trying to boot from ubuntu to install a dual boot - it is just completely bloody ignored!!!!). So trust me, I understand the idealistic concept of WHY it was invented. Trouble is that the implementation has just been a farce, and the overly restrictive way it has been implemented (ie ignoring other operating systems), just confirms the view of microsoft as being opportunistic, self serving, and just implementing short-sighted, self serving, selfish policies, and I am a little disgusted that mfrs such as samsung have just gone along with this - alienating their own business customers by following this overly restrictive and ridiculous architecture.
Thanks Anon.
Tony

Posted on 28 Jan 2013 01:19:58 GMT
Thatch says:
I'm so glad I read your review. I use Norton 15 Ghost to enable me to get my computer back to as it should be in a very short time, it's a lot easier to use than trying to get rid of viruses and such like. Without being able to boot either from a usb drive or CD/DVD I would have no faith in this machine. I'm also pleased you pointed out the privacy issues. Thank you for taking the time for a full, if negative review. I will look elsewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 16:16:58 GMT
R Moss says:
I've just bought one of these laptops from Amazon and I can confirm that you absolutely **CAN** boot from a USB stick as I've just done it with no problem.

Firstly, follow the steps from "Anonymous" above to disable secure boot and enable "UEFI and Legacy" boot modes.

Secondly, make sure your USB stick is NOT in one of the blue USB 3 ports. It will NOT work if it's in a USB3 port.

Lastly, reboot, go into BIOS setup again and select the boot order option. You should see your USB stick listed and you can put it to the top of the boot order (my defaulted to be the 1st device anyway).

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 17:42:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2013 17:48:58 GMT
Hi R Moss, and thanks for your reply.
Unfortunately I did do everything that Anon said above and still didn't work. Sorry, but I thought I had explained that pretty clearly.
On my machine, as I say, I could finally get the CD drive to appear in the boot capability list, but NO USB. Trust me I tried a hell of a lot of times.
If you can get it to appear on your boot list, then that is different to how my machine performed.
On my machine, nothing for usb ever appeared, so therefore I could not move it to number 1 in boot order. As I say, trust me, I tried.
If you have somehow got yours to appear in the boot order, would it be too much to ask you to make a little youtube video of how that looks, and give us the reference to your video? I would really love to see it.
As I say, I sent this machine back to Amazon a while ago, after many days of frustration with this machine.
But looking at the gyrations even you have had to make to get to that stage - eg reconfigure everything, then don't use a 'blue' usb port. Can you see how lazy and incompetent the manufacturers have been to send a machine like this out in that condition, with NO instructions at all about UEFI, or re-configuring the machine, or ***WHICH*** usb ports you can supposedly use to get the thing to work. I dont' know about you, but it just strikes me that they are taking the piss putting a machine like this, in this condition, onto the market, without any real instructions or help or guidance for the layman. Samsung have given absolutely NO help or guidance at all on this matter, despite repeated requests to them from me, and others.
So, if you have somehow managed to get your machine to work, then you are a better man than I. But I can assure you, that I did all of those steps long before Anon above posted his reply - in fact I think I had even posted my machine back to Amazon by then, and I can assure you that in my boot list, NO usb was available at all, as an option, at any stage. As I say, I managed to get the CD to appear as a boot option, but that was it buddy. End of story.
This in perspective, is also only one part of the overall picture.
There is also the fact that boot software from other manufacturers has been effectively disabled - there are multiple forum posts to say that for example ubuntu cannot be loaded onto the machine for dual boot. Ubuntu is only an example, but there are problems with other software being recognised at the boot stage.
Besides also the mess with my machine at least, having SIX different partitions on it, pre-loaded.
All in all, just too much of a mess.
Anyway I am glad for you that you have somehow managed to get the machine to work for you, and if you are happy with it, then I am glad for you.
But in my heart of hearts, I still could NOT recommend this machine to others. I mean, look at the gyrations and contortions you have had to go thru to try to get the thing working, and even then people have to be careful even which usb 'port' they are trying to use. Jesus, no seriously, most people just want a machine that they can use immediately, that they can hit the ground running with. To a reasonable extent anyway. But for a manufacturer to release onto the market, a product which needs all these contortions, and workarounds, and strange configurations, to even make it work, well, that is just too much for me buddy, and too much BS for a lot of other people as well, I would have thought.
Apart from the fact that the manufacturer has just released this machine in this state, leaving us all in the dark, and scrabbling around in the dark, hoping someone can post a workaround to their restrictive, constrictive architectures. No mate, I am not impressed by them at all, or their lack of concern for their market, their customers, and no matter how many of their 'agents' or salespeople come on here and try to convince me otherwise, I am very dissappointed with the machine, and with the manufacturer.
Thanks.
Listen buddy, I am genuinely happy you got the machine working, but as I say, I did everything you have mentioned and more, long before all these posts came up, and none of that worked. NO USB at any stage *** EVER*** showed up in the boot list.
But the usb boot problems, software not being recognised, the partitions mess, the absolutely arrogant attitude of samsung in even ignoring emails and questions.
No mate, to hell with it, MY MONEY is not going to be spent with people who obviously have so little respect for the customer that they release a machine like this, in that condition, with no instructions or guidance for how to work around this new restrictive UEFI setup, with no replies to emails, NO guidance in answer to questions for help etc.
Thanks.
Tony
ps, As I have said before, and to anyone reading this, who is considering buying this machine - look, it is YOUR money - you buy what YOU want to buy, and what makes you happy. BUT I just want to tell you that I also was a hopeful, trusting, optimistic customer, who felt that he got BADLY BURNED by this machine. Don't get me wrong, the outside of it looks nice - sleek black brushed metal finish etc, but just the messed up insides of it, the gyrations that you are expected to go thru to make it even work, the absolute messed up partitions structure, etc, all in all, it was just too much for me. But if someone is happy with it, HEY, that is great. But for me, NO, ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH!!!.
Thanks for reading!
Kind Regards
Tony

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2013 16:51:02 GMT
Surely the point is why the hell do we need to go through all this nonsense in the first place?

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2013 22:29:34 GMT
Ed Dun says:
To: Tony
It's been great to read your review before purchasing this notebook. Thanks for the informative details. I was just curious if you had tried the pre-bootloader (shim) as referenced on the extremetech.com article?http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/20303.html
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