By GABEY GOHbytz@thestar.com.my
The Series 5 Ultra embraces the Ultrabook design with a few tweaks of its own.
The Ultrabook market is getting pretty crowded, pretty quickly.
An Ultrabook - as defined by Intel - is supposed to be thin, boast long battery life, house solid state hard drive and offer instant-on features.
Of course, that it must run an Intel processor (Sandy Bridge family or newer) goes without saying.
But when one looks at Samsung's 14in Series 5 Ultra though, one could be forgiven for getting a little bit confused.
Sleek and solid
The Series 5 sports a silver aluminium body with plastic bottom and boasts a tapered silhouette similar to its impressive ultra-lightweight cousin, the Series 9.
Apart from the Samsung logo and a thin metal band outlining the trackpad, the Series 5 has an understated design with no other flourishes.
In terms of portability, with this model weighing in at 1.45kg, it's not too difficult to cart it around.
You don't expect to see an optical drive on a laptop that's supposed to be sitting in a category situated between lightweight laptops and Tablets - but there it is, one tray-loading optical drive for those who would have need of it.
At 2.08cm thick, it scoots pass the Intel decreed limit of one inch in thickness. That extra bit of thickness is due to the optical drive and with more real estate comes more ports such as a USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, a 4-in-1 card reader and HDMI out.
Under the hood, this Ultrabook houses a 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M processor, 6GB RAM and integrated HD 3000 graphics chip.
This can be considered a typical line-up of hardware for such a laptop, sharing almost the same guts as the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Envy Spectre.
The only exception is the storage which comprises a standard 1TB hard drive and a 16GB SSD (solid state drive). You get the best of both worlds - a roomier hard disk for storage and an SSD for speeding up Windows.
With medium usage, about five hours of battery life was squeezed out of the 5 Series but those who tend to use their laptops in short bursts over prolonged intervals would have no issues due to the excellent energy saving settings.
Heat dissipation is a slight problem with this laptop as it tends to get pretty hot on the left side of the keyboard.
This is due to the cooling vents being located in the bottom of the laptop and in between the speakers.
The Series 5 still fulfils the requirement of faster boot times, needing only about 20 seconds before one can start clicking around and not wait for Windows to finish loading.
It also wakes from sleep in less than two seconds most of the time (on occasion, it would take slightly over 5 seconds), which is great for those road warriors with no time to spare in-between appointments.
A highlight of the Series 5 is that the 14in antireflective screen with its matte finish that helps reduce glare. One downside though is the limited viewing angle.
In terms of sound, the built-in stereo speakers located above the keyboard does lack a strong bass-line but that's to be expected and it still carries a decent amount of audio punch.
The keyboard is a set of isolated square keys with slightly rounded corners. It's comfortable to type on and does a decent job of holding up to the heavy pounding usually associated with frenzied typing.
The metallic trackpad feature separate buttons, instead of being a single clickable pad but is a good size and you won't find yourself running out of real estate to swipe your finger around.
On the software front, in addition to the usual Microsoft bundle, Samsung has also included its own utilities.
There's the Easy Software Manager, which ensures that all the notebook's drivers and apps are up to date along with Easy File Share that facilitates file transfers to other computers on your network.
Overall, Samsung's mid-range laptop with its RM2,999 price tag appears to straddle the blurry edge of what makes a portable computer and an Ultrabook.
This one's geared at the user who's willing to take the next step forward in embracing the next generation of laptops but isn't quite ready to let go of some stuff yet.
For those looking for an Ultrabook with accoutrements such as an optical drive and a respectable number of port options - add this one to your list.
Pros: Built-in optical drive; plenty of ports; comfortable trackpad/keyboard.
Cons: Battery life could be better; screen has limited viewing angle.
Series 5 Ultra
PROCESSOR: 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M
MEMORY: 4GB RAM
DISPLAY: 14in LED
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 3000
STORAGE: 1TB hard drive
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11n, gigabit Ethernet port, Bluetooth 3.0
OPTICAL DRIVE: DVD burner
PORTS: One USB 2.0 port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 4-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC), HDMI out, VGA out
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
OTHER FEATURES: Stereo speakers, 1.3-megapixel HD webcam
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 33.27 x 22.86 x 2.08cm
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics (SME) Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999