Thursday, December 20, 2012

Samsung NP530U4BL review

Samsung's NP530U4BL is relatively lightweight but somewhat different from most new laptops – usually ultrabooks – that we've seen recently.
Samsung calls this Series 5 laptop an ultrabook, but we're not so sure. Firstly, it has an optical drive – making it easier to play DVD films or back-up to DVD-R media should you wish. Secondly, it has a large hard disk, here offering 500GB of storage.
That isn't to say that the Samsung is devoid of solid-state silicon, though. There is 16GB of flash storage built into the Seagate Momentus XT hard disk, and data that the system needs to access regularly is stored on the flash part of the drive. This should mean you get some of the performance benefits of SSD, while having a lot more room for storing your files. 
The screen has a matt rather than glossy finish, radically improving usability. We also liked the keyboard, well-spaced out keys and dedicating enough room to the important ones – Right Shift, Return, Backspace and the Spacebar – while leaving enough room for a roomy touchpad at the front of the chassis. 
There's a generous provision of USB ports - three in total, which is decent for an ultrabook; two of them support USB 3.0. There are video ports for VGA and HDMI, an SD Card reader, and a slot for an ethernet cable, which can be closed when not in use to preserve the sleek lines.
However, there are problems, too. There will be inevitable comparisons with Samsung's other ultrabook line-up, the Series 9 – and the Samsung NP530U4BL doesn't come out looking too good.
The black finish of the Series 9 is replaced by the Series 5's somewhat duller metal-coloured grey plastic chassis. The Samsung also runs very hot on the bottom left-hand side, which is a concern.
At 1.8kg it's a good deal heavier than most other ultrabooks, not to mention thicker – the result of incorporating an optical drive and traditional hard disc. This is forgivable, but we also felt that the Samsung didn't quite get the best out of its components. 
A 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor and 4GB of RAM deserved to get a better WorldBench 6 score than 100 points. While it isn't tragically slow, most modern Intel-powered laptops score in excess of 110 points.

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