Customer Reviews: Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C-A01US 13.3-Inch Ultrabook (Light Titan)
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on June 26, 2012
This is my first Samsung computer and my first Ultrabook... I do a lot of traveling and I've been using a 10.1" Asus Netbook for the last two years. I've loved the battery life and accepted the speed and small screen as being the sacrifice that I had to make to get 8 hours on a battery charge. This Series 5 has a 13.3" screen that is very readable in most every situation with the possible exception of direct sunlight. The 1.7Ghz Core I5 processor is blazing fast for a portable computer and even rivals a lot of desktop systems. All of this comes with an actual battery life of over 8 hours!!!

I really considered not getting this computer when I read the review that talked about the screen shaking, I don't know if they got a bad unit or if they are sensitive to movement but I've used this computer on my lap, on an airplane and in a car and I can't say that my screen has ever moved enough to even get my attention much less bother me. I can't imagine another computer being any better match to what I need, a small, lightweight, long battery life computer with substantial processing power.

My only complaint so far has been Samsung Customer Service. I need to use this computer with a VGA projector and no one at Samsung could even tell me what adapter I needed to convert the monitor port to a VGA output. I ended up buying a HDMI to VGA converter to be safe. Their lack of knowledge about a basic function had me questioning my choice but the computer is so good I'm still going to give it five stars.
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on August 11, 2012
It just arrived earlier today, and after working with it for the better part of the afternoon and evening, I can say that it's very, very nice: compact, with a nice screen, and extremely speedy. (And by the way, I've seen absolutely no indication of screen-wobbling, which is something another reviewer mentioned.) There are, however, a couple of minor issues that prompted me to take it down a notch, from 5 stars to 4. Actually, if I could have given it 4.5 stars, I would have, but since I have to choose between 4 and 5, I'll go with 4.

One of the issues is fan noise. I must admit to being extremely sensitive to the noise of laptop fans, and for the past several years I've been spoiled given that I've had a Dell Mini 10, which is a now-discontinued fanless netbook. Being fanless, and since I had installed an SSD in it, it was completely silent. The netbook, however, finally gave out on me, and so after some research, I ordered the Samsung NP530 as a replacement, both for on-the-road use on my job, and carrying around room-to-room in my house. From reviews I had read, it was supposed to be one of the quietest ultrabooks, and I think that's probably true. However, I can now say that, when running at load, the fan does become fairly loud. On the other hand, when it's idling, the fan is inaudible unless you put your ear right up to it. The other piece of good news is that, even when it's under load and the fan is going full tilt, it's loud but not as high-pitched as some laptop fans, which makes it less annoying. Bottom line: when it comes to noise, the NP530 is about as good as I can expect from a laptop (other than a fanless model), and it's something I can live with, especially since everything else about the unit is so nice. For those of you who are less sensitive to fan noise than I am, you probably won't even notice it.

The other issue isn't so much a problem as a quirk. I ordered it intending to replace the 500GB HDD with a 128GB SSD that I happened to have lying around. The actual install was easy. Just remove one screw on the underbelly and the drive, along with RAM, are immediately accessible. Make sure, however, that you have a good, small-size phillips-head screwdriver, because the screws that attach the drive to the bracket are on rather tight, and my small set of jeweler tools didn't deliver enough torque to unloosen them. I had to use a larger-handled screwdriver with a small head that, thankfully, I bought last year for another purpose and still had lying around. Anyway, aside from that, the install was easy, and my SSD fit perfectly in the bay. (There was no need to use one of the new super-slim SSDs that are required for some ultrabooks; my standard SSD fit perfectly.)

Now, however, we get to the quirky part. After I installed the SSD, I did a clean install of Win 7. This could be probably avoided by using cloning software to image the drive that the NP530 shipped with. However, I wanted to install a copy of Win 7 Pro (rather than Home Premium) since I happen to have an extra Pro license on hand. Also, I dislike the bloatware that most OEM's install on new systems. I can't say for sure whether Samsung installed much bloatware because I didn't experiment much with the unit before replacing the drive and doing the reinstall.

In any event, when I tried to do a clean install of Win 7 Pro, I was stymied by the fact that the NP530 simply would not boot to my USB DVD drive, so there was no way for me to install Windows other than by installing it from within the existing Win 7 installation (which often causes problems). After several hours of troubleshooting and reviewing information available online, I figured out that the culprit was a special BIOS setting, apparently unique to Samsung ultrabooks, called "Fast BIOS Mode." This mode causes the BIOS to completely skip over USB devices when booting, no matter what boot priority they're set to. This is apparently to speed up the boot process, but when I figured this out and disabled Fast BIOS mode, I saw no appreciable difference in boot speed. My USB DVD drive was, however, finally recognized when booting, after which the installation went smoothly. I will say that I have an older USB DVD drive, so maybe those of you with newer ones won't have this problem.
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on June 19, 2012
I purchased this machine and have been using it for a few days. This thing is blazing fast! My desktop is a Core 2 Duo at 3.00GHZ and this machine is as fast as or faster than it! And to the poster above that complained about the "wobbly" screen, he must have had a lemon; mine works perfectly. I cannot think of a single negative about this computer. Its very thin, light, and fast. The screen looks great. It boots up very quick, it wakes up from sleep mode very fast. About the only negative is the battery is not user-replaceable. So, when it dies you'll have to send it back to get changed. But they did put a battery life extender technology in it, so it only charges the battery to 80%, not 100%. This greatly enhances battery life. this is also what major car manufacturers do as well, they only run their batteries from 20-80% capacity so that they last up to 10 years.

The only reason why I'm giving it 4 and not 5 stars is it comes with Win 7 Home Premium and not Professional, and the battery is not user-replaceable.
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on June 9, 2012
Well I ordered this laptop last night, with next day air, Saturday delivery; Today (Saturday) it arrived at about 10AM. Good Work UPS/Amazon.

First impressions:

Let me preface this by saying that I've owned A LOT of laptops. I've probably had 20 laptops in the last 7 years. The worst of these was probably an eMachines laptop (made by gateway I think), back in 2006; The best was by far a late 2011 Macbook Pro 15". So the scale is 1-10, 1 being the eMachines, 10 being the Macbook Pro.

Another point I'll make is that this is the first Ultrabook I've owned. I recently owned a Lenovo Thinkpad X220, which is kind of the same class of laptops, but not quite.

Having owned it for all of 6 hours, I'd probably give this laptop a 6-6.5 out of 10. The most obvious thing it has going for it is the zippy Third Generation Intel Core i5. Overall, for a laptop this small, thin, and light, its a really quick machine. For $200 more you can buy the model with a 128GB SSD, something I think is a must in all computers now (an SSD). I opted for this one because its $800, and I can buy a better 128GB SSD, and another 4GB stick of RAM for about ~$125 and ~$20 respectively. I happened to already have both of these lying around, and installation was easy enough. There's one screw that holds on a panel on the back, then it just pops off like the back cover on a Samsung android phone.

Biggest problem, and pretty much deal breaker for me: The hinge for the screen. It's wobbly. The screen shakes when you move, when it opens. Just poor build quality.

UPDATE: I'm changing it from 3 stars to 4 because I suppose its unfair to say that this one detail makes it a 3 star product. For me, I can't deal with it, and I'm going to return it. But for most people, this is such a standard problem that they wouldn't even notice it or be bothered. Even as I type this with the laptop on my lap, the screen is wobbling with every's driving me NUTS!

Another thing I personally don't like is the keyboard. I always use mechanical keyboards on my desktops, like the dasKeyboard, so I'd say every laptop's keyboard is complete garbage...but coming from a Lenovo Thinkpad, with that awesome old school IBM laptop keyboard, to these flat, silent, chiclet style keys...kind of drab. I also feel like backlit keys are a standard thing now. Maybe because the last few laptops I bought are >$1000.

The touchpad is great. Obviously still nowhere near as good as a Macbook touchpad, but by far the best PC touchpad I've ever used.

Aside from the screen hinge...great laptop. Great price for a new Core i5 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook. This was my first Samsung laptop, and it'll probably be my last without trying it out in the store first.
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on August 7, 2012
Sleek, lightweight, battery lasting 5-6 hr; easy to use, soft keys easy to type on. Beautiful matte finish - doesn't show fingerprints. Would buy it again in a heartbeat.
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on September 10, 2012
It is quite fast - not as fast as if it had an SSD. But very fast for HDD. I did upgrade to SSD and now it is very fast!
Keyboard is nice to use, I can type quite fast on it.
Screen is excellent. I acutally compared this screen to 10 other ultrabooks at a conference and it was by far the brightest of the bunch. The HP Folio 13 looks like a dying flashlight in comparision.
Unfortunatley, the battery life sucks (compared to specs)! With wifi on, i got under 4 hours. This was after I dimmed the screen and set it to dim after 1 minute of non-use. 7 hours must be with wifi off and screen at minimal brightness!
I'm wondering if the 14" would be a better bet as it has a larger battery??
The wifi is less sensitive than my other laptops. I can get 3-4 bars of wifi on a broadcom card where this centrino (supposely better) only gives me 2. Tried update the drivers - to no effect.
As others pointed out the power plug in is very small and sticks out quite far - I am a little concerned about damaging that. Samsung should look at a 90degree bend for the plug.
The edge of the laptop is also somewhat sharp. If you are using this with it elevated above your elbows, you will notice the sharpness. It needs a filing with a very fine rasp or emory board to round the edges more. If you use below your elbow height, you probably will not notice it.
The trackpad is very responsive and the clicks work will, but there is a little clicky noise when pushed - I could see that getting annoying in a quite room.

This is also lacking a TPM chip, so if you want to encrypt the HDD you are out of luck (I'm using ultracrypt on a partition I created- and pointed my docs to). I wish samsung would make this model with TPM.

And the worst part are the specs on the Samsung web site. Seriously Samsung get a matrix of your different models with some decent specs! Don't make us guess what we are buying! Although I could say the same of Asus and HP - seriously I had to do some serious research and even then I was unsure about a TPM chip (so I wagered, and lost).

Overall its very useable, but get real with the battery life estimate, round the edges, put a 90degree on the power plug and you have a awesome ultrabook. As is, its a 3 - 3.5 star.

I Installed a kingston v+200 SSD in it and it was much faster. Just be sure to get a 7mm SSD if you do get one.
I also upgraded to windows 8 enterprise. It now boots in ~9 seconds and wakes in 2 or so.
However if you are installing windows 8 - note as of Oct 11, there are a few drivers missing and the settings software/ ALT FN keys do not work. Hopefully Samsung will address this.
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on September 13, 2012
I returned this after the battery failed with a warning for the user to stop using the battery for safety's sake. Maybe this is just the way it is, some devices will fail out of the box. Aside from that major issue, the ultrabook was very light, very fast, nice feedback on the keyboard. Screen resolution was good for a laptop. In the end, I bought the Toshiba to replace the samsung. Better machine, a little more expensive.
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on October 15, 2012
I was really enthused about this laptop, it had all the right ports for an ultrabook. But on first boot of the machine, immediately the = key was stuck on and emitting symbols, and the touchpad barely functioned. On top of that, the VGA port is nonstandard and proprietary, and requires a separately purchased connector AA-AV2N12B which costs about $40 (by the way good luck finding this out, since that part is not listed on any Samsung page relating to the Series 5 or 9). How this laptop passed quality control is beyond me, keyboards typically don't fail in transit, and this had to pass both Samsung's and, unless Samsung installed Amazon kindle, also Amazon's prep for sale before being shipped.
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on August 15, 2012
I bought this as I am in the market to look for a replacement laptop. I previously used a Dell XPS M1330 -- a 13-inch super duper laptop rolled out by Dell priced at a premium at that time for a princely sum of US$1,700!

My requirements are

1) Need to be future proof for at least 3 years, so no latest model, all bugs ironed out or identified by reviews, and most important of all, value-for-money (< $1,000). Screen size doesn't matter since I will connect external monitor to this at home, but 13 inches is minimum
2) Run Windows 7 and 8 reliably, and especially Office
3) Easy to carry around vs my old Dell which came in at around 2kg.

After using this laptop for a few days, I am truly sold by this ultrabook form factor. First off, the form factor -- it's significantly thinner than my old high end laptop of twice the money! I am happy with the weight and it feels solid when I carry it around. Wobbling screen? No, didn't experience it. Typing is comfy and despite the clickiness of the touchpad buttons, I use an external mouse so that wasn't an issue for me. I focus on productivity so I always use earphones, mouse and external screen at home to complete my tasks faster and improve enjoyment of my movies and music collections.

The laptop didn't come with too much bloatware, I was able to start working after 20 minutes of installing Office on it. Movies play well on the laptop, no lags, and I was up working and playing during my first 2 hours of using the laptop.

In short, I focus on the screen quality (matt, bright), form factor (size, weight) and hardware (Intel i5 3rd gen processor, good keyboard) when it comes to buying a laptop, the rest are just overpriced icing that one doesn't need to pay. Samsung has really priced this competitively -- I was doubtful of the price that I went to my local electronics giants to test it out. FYI I bought this last month at $750!
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on August 7, 2012
I did a lot of comparison searching. This laptop had all of the ports I needed, just the right size, good computing power and etc. Too bad it has one major engineering flaw..... The screen doesn't tilt back far enough that I can use it in my lap. Unless I tilt the whole laptop back, I'm looking down across the screen, and it doesn't have a great angle of view. I'm trying hard to keep it, but I'm so irritated by the poor engineering, that I'll likely return it.
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