A midsize laptop launched by the Korean company Samsung earlier this year is the Series 5 Ultrabook 530U4BI which isn’t really an ultrabook in our opinion, but more of a regular midsize laptop. It isn’t really an ultraportable and slim system in comparison to other models that do deserve to fit in this category, but for its $949 price tag it’s a really interesting laptop since you get a spacious 500GB hard drive, a good amount of connections and ports, along with an optical drive.
As you can see, you can’t describe it as an ultrabook since instead of a SSD you get a regular hard drive, even though it has a 16GB SSD for a fast bootup. In addition, with the inclusion of a tray-loading optical drive, you can forget about an ultrabook-like lightweight and thin construction. One similar model is the 14-inch HP Envy Spectre but at least that one has a smaller footprint and a full-size SSD.
Under the hood of the Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook 530U4BI is a second generation Intel Core i5-2467M processor running at a frequency of 1.60 GHz. It has been configured with 4GB of DDR3 memory clocked at 1,333 MHz and for storage you get the aforementioned 500GB SATA HDD (spinning at 5,400 rpm) and a 16GB SSD. The chipset in this midsize laptop is an Intel UM67 while the graphics power is handled by the Intel HD 3000. The laptop is running on Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit version.
It measures 13.1 x 9.0 x 0.82 inches (W x D x H) and tips the scales at 3.9 pounds or 0.6 pounds more if we take into account its AC adapter. Even though it’s got a tapered edge, this laptop from Samsung is not as thin as an ultrabook should be. We like the matte aluminum finish as it not only looks great but it does a great job at keeping away fingerprints. The plastic bottom panel is not our cup of tea, but even so for a sub-$1,000 laptop it looks great.
As far as the keyboard is concerned, it adopts an island-style configuration that we’ve seen on a lot of laptops launched recently by Samsung. The keys feature a matte finish which looks nice and they manage to remain reasonably quiet while you are typing. The spacebar is a little bit narrow, but we do appreciate that the rest of the important keys such as Tab, Enter and Shift are big and you won’t have any problems hitting them. Sitting below this keyboard is a large touchpad that manages to be not only responsive but it offers plenty of real estate for performing multitouch gestures.
The Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook 530U4BI has been fitted with a 14-inch display that has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. It is important to mention that we are dealing with a matte screen that has an antiglare finish, while the horizontal viewing angles are great (the vertical ones are poor).
Let’s talk connectivity and ports. For video it has been equipped with both VGA and HDMI ports, while for audio you get a headphone and microphone combo jack. As for data, it comes with an SD card reader, one USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports, while for networking purposes it packs Bluetooth, an Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi. As we mentioned earlier, it comes with an optical drive in the form of a slot-loading DVD burner.
Even though we criticized Samsung for advertizing this model as an ultrabook, we have to say that since this is indeed slimmer than midsize laptops; we appreciate the number of ports they’ve managed to squeeze in. The HDMI and VGA ports poke out from a recessed side panel, while the aforementioned Ethernet port has a small door that flips open. You won’t find two USB 3.0 ports on an ultrabook these days but this will probably change in the months to come.
Just like many 13-inch ultrabooks on the market today, this 14-inch Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook 530U4BI is powered by a low-voltage Intel Core i5-2467M processor. However, since this is a bigger laptop that a regular ultrabook, some of you might have expected a non-ULV processor. Even so, for every day productivity and multitasking, this Core i5 offers enough processing power and you won’t consider this as a low-power laptop. Regarding the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics solution, we’ve talked about it lots of times so you probably remember that it can only do some light gaming and it’s mostly suitable for watching and streaming HD content. You won’t find more graphics processing power in an ultrabook as these systems weren’t created as gaming machines.
One of the key features that customers look in an ultrabook is how fast the system boots and also how quick it resumes from sleep. This model needs approximately 20 seconds to boot, while to resume it sometimes does it immediately while other times it takes a few seconds so this is kind of a mixed bag, an issues that we have noticed on other ultrabooks as well so this isn’t a particular problem.
The battery of this laptop is capable of lasting for approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes during a demanding battery drain test consisting of continuous video playback. Even though this is a good result for a laptop belonging in the midsize segment, the performance of the battery is a little bit below the average in the ultrabook category. Nevertheless, in day-to-day use you can probably squeeze about 6 hours and 30 minutes from this battery which is enough for most users so there’s no point in complaining about it.
The company offers a regular one-year parts & labor warranty for this Series 5 Ultrabook 530U4BI. We end by saying that this is a great 14-inch midsize laptop, but if you really want an ultrabook you might want to look somewhere else as there are other slimmer, more lightweight models that come with a full-size SSD and a better performance in the battery department.