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back to article Review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch Ultrabook

When it comes to handing out Windows 8 laptops to the UK reviewers, Samsung has been surprisingly glacial. Whether this is another Apple emulation strategy to become more elusive or a sign of hesitancy to have the brand tarnished by Windows 8’s underwhelming reception, is unclear. The hardware was paraded at CES 2013 five months …

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Facepalm

Is it ultra...

By any chance?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is it ultra...

Ultra low res: 1366 x 768 pixels x 2013 = FAIL

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Anonymous Coward

Caps Lock?

Really who actually uses the Caps Lock key these days? For me it is nothing but an irritation when it occasionally gets hit as I go for the 'A' key and garbles the rest of the sentence.

While learning to properly touch-type would help, just getting rid of that key would make as much sense. Particularity if there is no indicator LED (doh!)

And yes, paying £600 for crap screen resolution is just not going to happen. My father's el-chepo 15" laptop of half a decade ago is better than that!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Caps Lock?

Clearly, you've never had an enlightened internet discussion before. I would suggest getting in touch with EADON; you'll be wearing out your caps lock in no time.

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Re: Caps Lock?

Finding the regedit updates to make the caps lock key act as a shift key has saved me a load of hassle in the past :)

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Re: Caps Lock?

My mother had a Toshiba laptop that had no Caps-Lock indicator, and its absence annoyed the hell out of her. I really don't know what the designers were thinking. There is some software available that will place a Caps Lock indicator in your Windows Taskbar, but in the end she just bought a new laptop.

On a more general note, the Caps-Lock key is overly large given how infrequently it is used... all the other larger keys on my keyboard, such as Space, Return, Enter, Shift, Backspace etc are used very often indeed. I really wouldn't mind if Caps-Lock was relegated to a small key above Esc.

(In a mail room in which I used to work, there was a PC with one function- using a DOS-based piece of software to generate and print courier labels... it was a very fast, keyboard-only interface - unless I accidentally hit the 'Insert' key. Eventually I prised the offending key out of the keyboard and Sellotaped it to the keyboard. It is not only software that can be tailored to suit the user!)

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Re: Caps Lock?

PS

I was almost tempted to cannibalise an external USB keyboard to create a 'Caps-Lock Indicator USB Dongle', but I didn't bother in the end!

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Stop

Re: Caps Lock?

Remove the caps lock key from keyboards? But emails I receive from my mother, invariably typed ALL IN CAPITALS, just wouldn't be the same typed in lower case. Not to mention all the extra effort that would be involved in holding down the shift key while participating in a flame war...

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Re: Caps Lock?

>Not to mention all the extra effort that would be involved in holding down the shift key while participating in a flame war...

Duck tape.

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Re: Caps Lock?

I think I'm with you on the Caps Lock Cull. It is highly irritating sitting next to someone who types every capital letter by turning the Caps Lock on, pressing the letter and then turning it off. At very least, removing the Caps Lock would raise awareness of the much more useful Shift key that usually lives right below it.

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Unhappy

Re: Caps Lock?

My Lenovo (Thinkpag Edge E335) has no visible capslock or numlock indicator, it has infuriated me on numerous ocassions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Caps Lock? @apjanes

If it's such an issue I presume it's a colleague at work. Get busy with your own work and you'll stop noticing it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Caps Lock?

Indeed. I seldom type the letter "z" (hey, I'm not a merkin, I can spell recognise properly!) so surely they should get rid of that key too. And I can't think of the last time I've needed "~" or "¬" either. C'mon, if I'm not using them they should be removed, surely?

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Given the glacial uptake I can't help but think the major laptop makers are missing a trick in not offering a pre installed viable alternative to Windows 8

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>Given the glacial uptake I can't help but think the major laptop makers are missing a trick in not offering a pre installed viable alternative to Windows 8

Well, the jury is out on the cause for this slow uptake of new laptops...

Many people don't like the look of Windows 8

Other folk are in no rush, and are so happy to wait to see how their friends get on with Win 8 over a longer period of time, or if Microsoft release a 'service pack' that makes it more to their liking. They might even be waiting to see how Chromebooks develop before recommending one to a family member.

At the the same time, many people already own a computer that serves their purposes perfectly well.

Some people are finding that for their purposes, a tablet is good enough.

Some other people are feeling skint.

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The jury is out on the cause, you're right, but it's not like Toshiba, Samsung et al are falling over themselves to try much other than punting out Ultrabook style machines running W8.

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>The jury is out on the cause, you're right, but it's not like Toshiba, Samsung et al are falling over themselves to try much other than punting out Ultrabook style machines running W8.

Agreed, most of the manufacturers are content to stick Win 8 on it with maybe some included software to restore a Start Menu. Toshiba do have an ultra-high res laptop available, but at Macbook Retina prices (and Adobe Creative Suite doesn't play nicely with very high DPI displays under Windows).

Lenovo have some interesting machines though, from their 'Yoga', to their dual-screened Wacom-digitisered beast of a mobile workstation.

All of which are reasons to 'wait and see' for the time being.

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I agree. It's also worth noting that for all the doom and gloom, the Windows 8 sales/timeline has reportedly been as good as that for Windows 7 - with PCs, most people have always played the game of waiting. Average users don't care about a new OS, and wait until they want a new machine. Geeks are more likely to play the "Let's wait until SP1" game.

I remember reading years ago that the average upgrade time for a home PC was a staggering 8 years - and if anything, I can see that being longer now, as CPUs and RAM are finally good enough. I know my parents are still chugging along on a 2007 laptop that has as much RAM as my Galaxy Nexus phone :)

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Meh

"A cold boot takes about 18 seconds to reach the login screen;"

My shonky old and pedestrian-clocked Core2 equipped Dell handily beats that, courtesy of the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive I stuck in it.

Saves all that tiresome poncing about with seperate boot partitions and from those numbers, seems like it may well be faster than whatever SSD Samsung are using there too. I am absolutely mystified as to why manufacturers aren't falling over each other to fit these things as standard.

The only thing I can think of is that they've all tried one and found no advantage, as it takes the things several days of duty cycles for the cacheing algorithm to get its feet under the table.

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Re: "A cold boot takes about 18 seconds to reach the login screen;"

Boot times are a pointless metric, I might reboot my laptop at most once a week. Most of the time I'm just putting it to sleep.

However, I do agree that a proper hybrid drive is better than the small factor SSD and HDD hybrid combo fitted to these. Especially if you do use any RAM heavy applications.

The Intel Rapid Store technology running on my current laptop is rubbish and I will be soon replacing both the 30GB mini sata drive and the 2.5" drive so that when rebuilt they will work independently

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FAIL

Re: "A cold boot takes about 18 seconds to reach the login screen;"

Any chance that a caching algorithm might take a few goes on the Samsung too ?

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Thanks for the left handed perspective and for sticking ubuntu on.

The screen resolution is too low but otherwise doesn’t seem like it’s too bad. Not keen on Windows 8 but we’ll see what blue does to improve it.

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Can someone please enlighen me

What do you use full-HD resolution in a laptop with a 13.3" diagonal screen for?

Do you run your text with ludicrously small fonts? Is the text so much clearer. Does colour saturation matter so much for a device that, unlike a TV or large monitor, is likely to be used in non-optimum light conditions?

I know I am a bit of a Luddite, but it does strike me that it is merely 'my number is bigger than your number', because honestly, I cannot really believe that it makes a huge difference. But then I started using terminals with fixed 7x9 pixel character cell where you could still see gaps between the scan lines, so I may not be qualified to judge!

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Devil

Re: Can someone please enlighen me

Turn up the text DPI then everything non-textual looks lovely and sharp - I'm guessing you're not big on graphic design, most people don't use command line on a laptop much ;-)

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Re: Can someone please enlighen me

It's handy for being able to view multiple windows at the same time or displaying more code on the same screen.

Image quality for watching video is usually higher.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can someone please enlighen me

Yes Peter you are a bit of a Luddite :). 1080 works better on my 55+ year old eyes down to sub 9" screens though I accept vision varies a lot among individuals - maybe it doesn't matter for you fair enough but doesn't harm either.

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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @James 51

With smaller text fonts (like I said)? The only way to get more information on a fixed sized screen is to make the words smaller.

Whilst I admit that you can do this with higher resolution, you end up trying to read characters that are 2mm or less in height. It just doesn't work beyond a certain point.

Example. HD on 13.3" at 16x9 equates to approx. 165 vertical pixels per inch. Nowhere near a Retina display, but assuming text at 10 pixels in vertical height, that would make each line of text about 1/16th of an inch in height (about 1.5mm). Now I'm not sure I really want to be reading characters that small on a screen at just less than arms length. It's just too small.

So it is not the resolution that determines how much you can fit on a screen and still use it, it is the size of the characters. I don't dispute that at smaller character sizes, higher resolution means clearer text, but again, it is a matter of degree.

I also dispute image quality for video. You're being sold a lemon. I really don't believe that you can see pixels that small on a moving image, and even if you can, it's a mobile device, not your primary entertainment device.

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Pint

Re: Can someone please enlighen me @James 51

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree :)

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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @David

Umm. Text DPI? everything non-textual?

I'm assuming that you mean that you are shrinking the page down, keeping the relationship between the text and graphic sizes the same. Yes. But at the point it will really makes a difference, the text will be too small to read. 13.3" diagonal is really not that big.

Also 'lovely and sharp' is subjective. I seriously doubt that you can really tell much of a difference between what this ultrabook can do, and what full HD provides on the same sized screen.

I would also seriously doubt that a graphic designer (like my daughter!) would use this sized screen for their primary workstation. They really use large 26"+ screens running at HD+ resolutions. I say again that 13.3" is too small for that type of work. It might be what they visit customers with, but I bet they plug it in to a bigger screen whenever they can.

BTW. I do command line on laptops all the time. I'm a UNIX sysadmin. I had an IBM T60 with a 1440x1050 resolution 15.1" laptop, and I could quite easily shrink down the text such that it was clear but too small to use without a magnifying glass.

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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @AC

I don't doubt that you think that you can tell, especially if you use a magnifying glass. After all, the marketing people say it is better!

Done any direct comparisons without being told which is res is which? I would use the term 'blind' comparisons', but I don't think it is appropriate. I would suspect that you would flag a 1680x1050 with a shiny screen as being clearer than a 1920x1080 with a matt screen.

You must face the fact that at some point there is a cut-off where more does not really mean better. I just think we have already passed that point. And if having such high resolutions drives up the price or power consumption, then I would dispute that it does no harm.

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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @AC

Because you appreciate the extra desktop real estate?

I love my 13" Full HD monitor. Everything is pin sharp and crystal clear, and I can get what I want on the screen without having to carry around a 17" laptop with me.

Hell, even when I RDP from my Transformer Infinity to my desktop everything is still perfectly readable - and that's only 10"

I find a crap 15" 1366*768 much harder to read, and much more fatiguing than a high quality, high res smaller screen.

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Anonymous Coward

working on a laptop without a backlit keyboard these days can be a challenge

My heart bleeds for you

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WTF?

Have I missed something?

"Until Windows 8.1 appears, having a touchscreen is a huge advantage to straddle the new Windows 8 user interface dichotomy."

Have I missed something here? 8.1 isn't going to do anything to overcome what many people are struggling with regarding the overt focus on touch input that Windows 8 has. They're just allowing you to boot to the desktop and sticking on a button to take you to the "start screen" aren't they?

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Re: Have I missed something?

I think having a touch screen on a laptop is useless. Most of the time my laptop sits on my desktop almost out of arms reach. I use Windows 8 daily and don't find that I need to touch anything but my keyboard and mouse. On the occasions I do use it on the move I could see myself dropping the thing on the floor if I start touching the screen. Keep touch to tablets, that what I say.

I can see SP1 being gratefully received to avoid the newbie confusion of getting to the desktop and the start menu though.

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Re: Have I missed something?

But that's basically the things that people are complaining about. It'll put the start button back, and apparently, having to move the mouse to the corner is something you can only do easily on a touchscreen, making Windows 8 unusable without one, but Windows 8.1 will fix this, for those people who can't spend the 5 minutes to install a free utility to do the same thing... What else have people been complaining about, and which of these are to do with touchscreens?

Not that I get the argument, but that's what people have been saying. Personally I'm glad MS have finally started making full use of Fitts's Law. And don't get me wrong, I can see that a button is simpler and people might get annoyed by the hotspot, but I don't see this is a touchscreen thing - I mean, how do I "move the cursor to the corner" on a touchscreen? (I could swipe, but usually in a UI, that's treated the same as clicking and dragging - the idea of a cursor position without touching/clicking has no analogy on a touchscreen). Indeed, when I first tried out a Surface RT the other day, I first happily used the keyboard and touchpad, and then thought, maybe I'd better try the touchscreen, and wasn't really clear at first how to do the various things.

It's the same thing we've seen for years with Windows - some people are outraged about big changes in each new version of Windows, but it's really just some subtle smaller thing that has actually caused the upset. MS never back off the big changes - instead they tweak the subtle things that caused the problem, and suddenly, everyone's happy. Happened with XP vs XP SP1, and Vista vs 7.

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Re: Have I missed something?

I don't think people have been complaining about the manner in which the start screen is accessed, I think the larger complaints are that the start screen exists at all (at least on the desktop). Windows 8.1 isn't going to do anything about that, I think some people have been getting their hopes up that the old start menu is going to make a return.

I don't care either way, I've never had much of an issue with Windows 8, although given a choice I'd have kept the Windows 7 start menu.

Also is a hot spot really harder than the old way of accessing the start menu? They both basically involve flinging the mouse to the bottom left corner and clicking?

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Re: Have I missed something?

True, there are various things people complain about. I've certainly seen the complaints of "They took away the start button", as well as complaints that MS have tried to "hide" the desktop away.

People who like the older version of the start menu can always install a utility to do that. I think a response from a lot of people uneasy with it is more that Windows starts up in something looking completely different, and if they then go to the desktop, it's unclear how to get back or launch programs.. If instead they start up in the same desktop as before, and they see the same start button as before - then sure, the start menu looks different, but "Updated start menu" (which has changed several times before anyway) is a long way from "They completely changed it and it's only for touchscreens and they killed off the desktop". People like and dislike various changes in every version of Windows, it's the FUD about being unusable with a mouse/keyboard that I imagine they're looking to address.

I agree about the hotspot, I find it fine - but I've seen some people complaining that this is awful and claiming makes it "only for tablets".

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Re: Have I missed something?

"Until Windows 8.1 appears, having a touchscreen is a huge advantage to straddle the new Windows 8 user interface dichotomy."

A huge advantage? I have to agree with the other comments on here. I have Windows 8 on my desktop, with a large touchscreen monitor (bought due to a deal, rather than wanting a touch screen)..... I think I've touched the screen less than 10 times since I bought it and that was only to show the touch features to interested friends! Maybe it's down to habit, but I find a mouse and keyboard much easier to use than touch.

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Re: I agree about the hotspot,

Try using it with multtiple monitors, that easy to find hot spot becomes a precise pixel of cold spot that's easy to overshoot, findable but not intuitive or simple.

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Anonymous Coward

"You don’t see a mention of this lower-powered machine on the Samsung UK site "

errr...

http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/pc-peripherals/notebook-computers/ultra-portable/NP540U3C-A02UK

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Anonymous Coward

1366 x 768

1366 x 768? 2002 called, they want their monitors back.

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Re: 1366 x 768

Were widescreen monitors that prevalent back in '02?

I think back then you were looking at a lot of 15" @ 1024x768 or at a push 17" @ 1280x1024.

Not that any of this is taking away from that 1366x768 is shocking in this day and age!

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Stop

Re: 1366 x 768

sigh. the monitor debate which never dies. here's what I bought in the below years. They were 'low' res in my mind in 2001..

2001: 1600x1440 15" screen

2007: 1400x1280 14" screen

2013: still using the laptop from 2006, and it's got a much larger/usable screen space. Perhaps when Windows XP finally dies a death, I might consider moving finally to ubuntu..

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Re: 1366 x 768

Ancient history called, it wants its worn out meme back.

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Facepalm

Tablet?

Apparently just having a touchscreen is enough to push this review into the Tablet section of the site instead of Laptop ;)

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Can I PLEASE have some resolution?

"And if our readers' comments are anything to go by, many of you hankering for full HD displays will stop reading at this point."

My PHONE now has "full HD resolution". I just cannot fathom why laptop manufacturers (especially those that can actually make screens themselves) can't just pretend the last decade of regression happened and give me the damn screen I want.

*deep breath*

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FAIL

1366 x 768 ... stop reading at this point.

You know me so well.

What is the matter with these people?

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Re: 1366 x 768 ... stop reading at this point.

That number of pixels is only good for an 11.6 screen, so save yourself £200 and get a touch enabled i3 powered ASUS Vivobook.

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Silver badge

Still struggling to see any laptops that are like my (couple of year old) Sony Vaio Z12

128GB SSD (actually it's 2x 64GB in RAID0, but that's fairly ghetto)

13.1" 1600x900

2.4GHz Core i5 turbo'ing to 2.9 (2 core, 4 thread)

<1.4kg, Carbon Fibre body

On chip AND discrete graphics (in this case, Geforce 320M 1GiB)

8GiB RAM

Now, where are these laptops? Laptops with a juicy spec, a decent screen, a full fat CPU and half decent GPU in a thin and light? Genuinely hard to find... (oh, the Z12 even crams an optical drive in this space, but I think that was kind of "just because they could" - I don't think optical drives are crucial built in to a laptop these days).

I have my fingers crossed that Haswell will sort this mess out. But still, OEMs can get things wrong (see: 1366x768, chintzy builds)

YES, I realise this laptop was in a totally different universe in terms of price compared to this Samsung, but I'm talking overall, in any price range.

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