Samsung Series 5 ultrabook review: Samsung Series 5 ultrabook

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The Good smart design; comfortable keyboard; bright matte screen.

The Bad Average performance isn't justified by high price; underwhelming screen resolution; average battery life.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Series 5 ultrabook offers the sort of clean, mature design you'd expect to see in a big city boardroom. Sadly though, it doesn't offer enough processor performance or screen resolution to warrant its relatively high price.

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6.5 Overall

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The term ultrabook has been well and truly established in the past year, with a raft of slim and sexy models launched. The 2012 additions are starting to trickle out now, with Samsung being the first to put a new machine in my hands, having showed it off at CES in Vegas earlier this year.

The Series 5 offers a clean, sensible design and packs an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive, instead of the solid state drives you'd expect to see in an ultrabook.

It's on sale now and will set you back £800 for the 13.3-inch version I tested, or £900 for the 14-inch model, which also packs in a DVD drive.


So you want a flashy new laptop with colourful patterns and fancy, modern design, do you? Well, you're out of luck here as the Series 5 is a subdued beast. Instead of garish styling, it offers a rather more mature design. A silver-grey colour is to be found covering every part of the chassis, with nothing in the way of accents, edging or patterns.

Samsung Series 5 ultrabook lid
The Series 5 offers a simple, muture design without any flourishes.

The only thing that punctuates the vast expanse of grey colouring on the lid is the subtle Samsung branding. Despite this, it somehow manages to avoid being boring. I personally think it's very smart -- it's a look that's more suited to attending business conferences than working on your poetic novel in Starbucks though.

The Series 5 is similar in design to the businesslike Toshiba Satellite Z830. If you're looking for an ultrabook with more design flair, then check out the attractive spun metal finish on the Asus Zenbook UX21.

Size wise, the Series 5 is par for the course. It's 315mm wide and 220mm deep, which are great dimensions for sliding into a briefcase or one of those stylish messenger bags. At just under 18mm thick, it's not the slimmest ultrabook on the market, but it's far from fat.

It weighs in at 1.43kg, which is standard for most ultrabooks. The Zenbook UX31 clocks in at around 1.3kg, undercutting the Series 5 slightly. Whether you'd ever notice that difference when you're carrying it around is debatable.

Around the sides you'll find one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet slot that has a cunning fold-out design to reduce overall size, a combined headphone and microphone jack and a VGA input that works with a supplied adaptor.

Samsung Series 5 ultrabook ports
There's Ethernet, HDMI and combined microphone and headphone outlets on the Series 5.

Unusually for ultrabooks, you'll also be able to get a DVD drive. It's only on the 14-inch model, which has a little more body space to play with, so if you want to stick with discs for the next few years, make some room in your bag for the bigger version.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard uses square keys with slightly rounded corners of the isolated variety. They're spread evenly over the base of the machine, with decent spacing between each key, and the typing experience is comfortable as they're easy to press.

Samsung Series 5 ultrabook keyboard
The Series 5's keyboard is easy to type on and the keys are well spaced.

I was able to type for extended periods without feeling the aches and pains that tell of an awkward keyboard. With a 13-inch chassis, there's no room for a numeric keypad on the side, but you can always grab a USB one if you particularly need to play with numbers.

The trackpad uses separate buttons, rather than being a clickable pad. While this often results in less space available to slide your finger around, the Series 5 still manages to provide a lot of pad real estate. There's a very slight ridge between the trackpad and the keyboard base, showing that Samsung has thought about how to use all the available space to fit in a big, comfortable trackpad.

Samsung Series 5 ultrabook trackpad
There's ample space on this large trackpad to swipe around web pages to your heart's content.


The 13.3-inch screen offers a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. I'm a little disappointed by this, as some of last year's models -- such as the Zenbook UX31 -- were offering 1,600x900 pixels and I'd hoped that this year's crop would at least be matching those specs, if not bettering them.

Annoyingly, you'll get the same resolution on the 14-inch model too -- I'd really have expected the larger size to up the resolution to at least 1,600x900 pixels, if not Full HD.

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