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on September 15, 2012
This is a 2 part review. 2nd part is in response to the reviewer who gave this laptop a low rating for a 100 MHz typo.

Runs as I expected and looks stylish. My wife can take this to work and people seem to look at it quite a bit.
Has Samsung included apps for the general public to make everything easier. Samsung easy Migration works much better than the Easy Transfer from Windows.

Pro's
* Fast and smooth.
* Stylish Blue tint.
* Clear screen with typical resolution.
* Lighter than expected which is a plus for her.
* Samsung apps seem to be fluid
Con's
* 2.5 instead of 2.6 GHz (minor typo)
* Bloatware. Personally I hate Norton products because they are so intrusive and it takes more than just the uninstall to remove.

This was purchased to replace my wifes aging Lenovo G530 with a 2 Ghz T6400 C2D. Mostly she uses her laptop for facebook, shopping, minor games, and documents. She also uses her company VPN and Quickbooks but that is almost the extent of her laptop useage.
Being that she does so little, this is more than enough machine for her. However I bought it because she was looking at a few games and her previous machine could not play much of anything. For example she likes the Sims 3, and a few puzzle games.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am a Systems Engineer for a Fortune 500 company and I get to play with a lot of different toys. Laptops, Desktops, Servers, etc. and 10 years ago I could scarcely notice the difference in a 1.4 Ghz AMD Thunderbird or a 2 GHz Willamette Pentium 4. And that was a 600 Mhz difference. Even people who can Max out a CPU with Video editing or CAD Design can not notice a 100 Mhz difference. If they can I want that talent.

When a review is written, it should use the following (or similar) standards;

1. Brief Opening Description telling what drew you to this particular product.
2. List of PRO's(if any) ie. Weight, size, color, or it makes your bed. Whatever you think is a Pro List it.
3. List of CON's (if ANY) ie. Weight, size, color, or it doesnt make your bed. OR as in this case, The description has a typo like, "The description states this is a 2.6 Ghz Intel i5-3210 but in reality it is a 2.5 Ghz Intel i5-3210 if this will make any difference."
4. Last would be your conclusion ie. What you think about it, any advice for readers, what you could not get it to do, and so on.

You dont give a negative product review based on a 100 Mhz typo. That is not fair to the product, the Manufacture, or potential purchasers. Many people rely on the reviews and while most people cannot tell the difference in 100 Mhz, if they see a laptop that is 2.6 Ghz for 5 dollars cheaper that doesnt have a negative review then they will go there. But is it the best laptop for them? Who knows but they did not see a serious review for the other one so they passed.

Conclusion: This laptop is well worth the money. Samsung usually builds quality and their support is good if needed. I use some of their various products and like most things there are bad ones here and there but so far this is not one.
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on January 7, 2013
I'm starting physical therapy assistant school this month, and as such, I wanted a laptop to take to school with me. Here are some of the pros and cons as I have seen:

Pros:
- Sleek, thin form factor - Nice lines, curves, and countours. This laptop looks quite stylish and very professional.

- Fast processor - With an i5 @ 2.5GHz, you will be able to surf facebook and write reports like never before. Joking aside, this processor is more than fast enough for normal usage.

- Integrated camera - It's nothing special, but it works.

- Build quality - It felt a little "plasticy" at first, but over time I have come to appreciate the materials and feel that the build quality is actually quite good, especially considering the price I paid ($500 -- it was on sale).

- RAM - 4GB is plenty for most people. In my opinion, any more RAM would be virtually pointless on this machine. The only reason I can think of that you would need more is for intensive video editing, but without a dedicated GPU, this laptop isn't really designed for such purposes anyways. Whatever games can be played on this laptop will be just fine with 4GB of RAM.

- Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics - I am actually quite impressed with the HD 4000 integrated graphics. Don't expect to max out Battlefield 3 (or even play on low settings with a comfortable framerate), but, benchmarks have shown that many modern games are playable on low settings with 25-30 FPS. Older games should run even better.

- Sound - For a $500 laptop, I feel that the speakers are perfectly adequate. If you want better sound, get some headphones.

- Keyboard - I can type about 80WPM average, so a good keyboard is very important to me. It seems that when you are buying a laptop, you're making a sacrifice as far as the keyboard goes no matter which laptop you buy (since a traditional desktop keyboard is much thicker and has much more tactile feedback), but the chicklet keyboard in this laptop works quite well and I can type with relative ease.

If you reformat the laptop to install Windows 7, make sure you install the latest touchpad drivers from Samsung so that can get "Palm Tracking", the feature that will disable the touchpad temporarily after any key is pressed (more on that later).

Cons:

- Personally, I am not crazy about the finish on the top of the laptop. It can look a little "oily" in certain lighting conditions. I feel that it would look much better if it were a flat surface and did not have all of the ridges. That said, it's certainly not terrible, and I can live with it. Some people seem to really like the way it looks, so it's just personal preference. However, given the fact that this is one of my only "cons", please do not let this deter you from purchasing this laptop.

- The laptop's screen does not open up nearly as far as I initially thought it should. However, I am finding that I usually do not open the laptop's screen up all the way anyways, so it is more of a non-issue. My old Inspiron 9300 could open a full 180 degrees -- why you would ever need that much is beyond me, but going from that, to this, was a bit of a shock at first. I would imagine that most people wouldn't even notice and that the angle that it CAN open up to is perfectly adequate.

- Bloatware. There are a lot of additional programs and features installed which I feel are completely unnecessary and seem to be shells over built-in Windows functions. However, this was not as much of an issue for me since I reformatted and installed Windows 7, only installing the drivers and software that I wanted.

Speaking of bloatware, Samsung's "Easy Settings" is somewhat of a necessary evil because it's required in order for the Fn keys to work (such as the brightness and sound Fn key shortcuts).

In and of itself, Easy Settings isn't all that bad, but one "feature" of Easy Settings that I particularly despise is how it splashes a giant caps lock notification onto your screen whenever the caps lock is enabled or disabled. Why couldn't they make it much smaller and/or make it appear at one of the corners of the screen? Why not make it an option to enable or disable notifications such as this? Alas, I do not know. It seems like many software devs just make the assumption that their consumers want it "as simple as possible" and do not think that providing options is a good thing. And for many people, this may be a complete non-issue, but for me, it's an annoyance. Especially if I'm playing a game in which I use caps lock.

I'm still looking into a way to disable the caps lock notification while keeping Easy Settings (so that I can use the function keys), but one surefire way to disable the notification is to simply uninstall Easy Settings. Many options can still be easily accessed by simply hitting win+X, so it's not really a deal-breaker if I can't use the Fn key shortcuts.

- The internal microphone is terrible. I picks up the clicks and clacks of the keyboard and mouse buttons very well, but I have to basically yell for my voice to be heard at all. Even putting my mouth right up to the mic hole doesn't seem to make a big difference.

However, I since I have reformatted and reinstalled Windows 7, I have not yet installed the Realtek sound driver, so it's possible that that may fix my issue. I will update this review after I have downloaded and installed the driver with results. If the mic is no better, I would say that unless having a good integrated mic is a big deal to you, don't let this bother you. If you use a mic that much, it would be better to get a cheap external mic anyways.

Additional Notes:

As I mentioned above, the elan touchpad driver installed on this laptop features Palm Tracking. Whenever you hit a key on the keyboard, Palm Tracking automatically disables the touchpad so that you don't accidentally jump the cursor and start typing somewhere else or lose focus on the current window. In general, this is a fantastic feature and allows you to rest your hands on the laptop while typing, but there are a few circumstances when I would want to disable it (i.e. gaming).

Sadly, the most recent driver does not allow Palm Tracking to be disabled in the GUI menu. However, there is a solution. I have made a couple of .reg files which, when ran, either enable or disable Palm Tracking. For the .reg files and full instructions on how to use them, please download from mediafire, here:

[...]

If that link gets deleted, simply type this in your address bar: mediafire(dotcom)(forward slash)?1d5gyop026rcfux

Obviously, replace what is in the parentheses with .com and / respectively. Delete the actual parentheses from the URL as well.

After you download Palm Tracking.zip, simply extract the Palm Tracking folder to any place of your liking and open up Readme.txt to understand how to use the files.

~~~~

In conclusion, this is a fantastic laptop for the price and the issues I have expressed here are minor annoyances at worst which most normal users would probably not even notice anyways. So, If you like the looks of this laptop and you don't plan on heavy gaming, this laptop should more then exceed your needs and expectations. So far, I'm really liking it. I will update this post with any more information as it becomes relevant.

~~UPDATE 1/8/12~~

After reading some troubling information about how Easy Settings can negatively affect DPC latency, I have decided to completely uninstall it altogether. Easy Settings was just bad news from the start. It has low-level processes than can increase the DPC latency, it splashes giant notifications on your screen whenever certain buttons are pressed (caps lock), and it messes with the power options and the actual behavior of the computer itself in strange ways.

For example, with Easy Settings, my computer will resume from sleep when the lid is opened (it won't do this without Easy Settings for some reason). However, Easy Settings also changes the "Shut Down" button to "Sleep" in the start menu, and it disables the pulsing blue LED during sleep mode, making me think that the computer was completely off when it was not.

So in the end, I think that completely removing Easy Settings altogether is definitely the right move. Although I lose Fn key functionaily (the sound Fn keys still work though), and although the computer no longer resumes from sleep when the lid is raised (I have to hit the power button to wake it up), I would rather live with this things than be subjected to the jacked-up bloatware party going on under the hood. No thanks, Easy Settings.

I have also determined the the mic just plain sucks. Maybe it's just the nature of the beast with built-in mics, but I have a feeling that everyone's mic is probably similar to mine.

That said, I did figure out what I have found to be the best possible settings for clarity and volume. The Realtek sound driver is absolutely essential to making the mic sound at least halfway decent because of a couple enhancements it features.

So, here's what I did to fix the mic:

1. Hit win+R
2. Type this: "control mmsys.cpl sounds" or copy and paste (without quotes)
3. Hit enters
4. Choose the "Recording" tab at the top of the Sound menu
5. Double-click "Microphone" (Realtek high definition audio)
6. Click the "Levels" tab
7. Completely max out both the Microphone and Microphone Boost sliders
8. Click the "Enhancements" tab
9. The following should be selected:

-Immediate mode
-DC Offset CAncellation
-Noise Suppression (NS)
-Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC)

10. Finally, click "Ok" to apply the changes

You should find that doing these things should clean up your mic a lot. If you already have the Realtek driver installed, the enhancements may already be selected by default, but you may still need to turn up the sliders in order for your voice to be heard by others. Also, you can play with Noise Suppression vs. Far Field Pickup (only one can be enabled at a time) -- I've found the NS is a little softer but more clear, while FFP is louder, but a little more muddled and unclear. Personally, I go with NS.

The bottom line is that the mic is junk and it is probably not located in the ideal position anyways. If it were me, I probably would've put it next to the camera so that it actually faces the user and is farther away from the keyboard so as to reduce the bone-jarring clicks and clacks that happen while typing. But, alas, I am not an engineer, and no one asks me these questions.

Despite all of these things, I still feel that this is a great laptop for the money. It's just a little disappointing to see prevalence of such terrible software and questionable design choices this far into the life of the laptop in general. I'm sure Samsung probably isn't alone in this, but sometimes it makes you wonder what their engineers/designers were thinking when they designed the product.

Ultimately, I feel that a score of 4/5 stars is perhaps a little generous, but mostly accurate. If this laptop came without all of the bloatware installed, I would give it 5/5 stars hands down, even with the crappy built-in mic. But, I just can't so easily excuse such terrible software which seems completely superfluous and actually harmful to the system. It doesn't make sense to me.
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on October 15, 2012
So far so good...I needed a better processor with higher RAM and memory, plus something that allowed me to work from home when necessary. This laptop can run several programs, including Microsoft Office, simultaneously and at a good processing speed. The keyboard is very comfortable to use; and setting it up was easy. Very happy with this!
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on January 8, 2013
I've been using this notebook for 2 weeks and so far I'm am pretty impressed. Added 4GB more RAM for good measure. Clearly some corners were cut to keep it under $500 but I'm very happy with the product overall.

PROS
-Fast
-Lightweight
-Great picture
-Sound is loud/decent quality for the $. I'd use external speakers though if I really wanted nice sound.

CONS
-Case feels budget - plastic feels like it might not hold up to much of a beating.
-Keys on keyboard have a very shallow action. I'm getting used to this now but at first it felt awkward to type on.
-Screw holding RAM door on was very easily stripped. Was able to remove with a screw extractor.

Update: 33 days after purchase I thought the Backspace and both Enter keys failed and was about to ship it to Fort Worth, TX for warranty repair. But before returning the product I decided to re-install factory software to verify it wasn't a "logic" issue. Keys are all fine now and I'm back to loving this computer.
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on December 21, 2012
My Dell Mini took a dive after only two years right after a vacation to Germany. All of my pictures were on it. Luckily after two weeks work, my IT guy was able to get my "User" folder off the old computer. In comes the Samsung Series 3 (I am typing on now). Great laptop, not just for the money, but for more. Unlike other people, I have no trouble with navigating the keys or that feeling with it being lopsided due to the 10-key on the right. It works great, feels great and is just a quality piece of electronics. The touch pad is a little touchy...common with all Samsungs, but all I do is hit FN + F5 and turn off the touch pad and use my mouse...problem solved!! I would buy this computer again and again.
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on December 11, 2012
Have had this laptop for about a week now. Overall I am very happy with it. Had never owned a samsung laptop beofre but due to quality of their over products decided to go for it. I had picked out a slightly different model on another site but it sold out. Did a bit of looking and found this one.
This is a great buy for the $. Love the I5 cpu, wish the HD was 7200prm or SSD but for less than $800 it would be hard to find that. The screen is quite nice and bright, does a great job with different media. Onboard graphics can be pretty bad sometimes but I have to say that its not the case here. The other thing I found quite surprising was just how light it is. For a 15.6 laptop i have to say its quite light and really portable.
If your looking for a decent laptop that you use for school, media, surfing and want to be able to travel easy with it this could be for you.
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on October 19, 2012
I have been using this computer for about 3 month.
The price is moderate and this laptop has so nice performance.
It has a i5 process and a ivy Bridge, so the graphic is HD4000. It is excellent.
I haven't got troubled anything yet, I don't have separate graphic card though.
I think HD 4000 is suitable for you if you don't play 3D high performance game a lot.

It also has saving power mode, so you can protect your battery from overcharge damaging. (you can extend your battery life)
Auto-power option is also convenient. you don't need to on and off your power every time. just fold it up.
On top of all that, there are a lot of other great things what I felt.
I'm so satisfied with this product.
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on October 19, 2012
Fast processor, 3rd Generation I5 but wrong speed is indicated in the product description. It's only 2.5 mhz not 2.6 mhz.
After 2 months of regular use, I'm fully satisfied with its performance. Though I have a minor concern . . The position of the touchpad is little bit closer to my left hand but I'm left handed so my left hand palm keep on touching the touch pad which moves the cursor unintentionally when I write.
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on November 18, 2012
Since the day I set up this laptop to now I have not had a single problem, defect, or issue. The number pad is very useful and it runs all my photoshop programs without any problem. I am very happy with this purchase.
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on February 12, 2013
The laptop isn't bad but we've had problems with it running Windows 8 and the installed software that came with it. Several crashes and lock ups doing trivial word processing or browsing tasks. Perhaps its the norton anti-virus software that came with it. Just uninstalled, we'll se if it resolves the issues.

I know its hard to say if its the operating system or perhaps Samsung's extra software thats installed but I wish I would have upgraded to Windows 7 for the extra $100.

There wasn't much bloatware on the pc, think I only had to uninstall 1 or 2 craptastic oem programs.
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