Published June 06, 2012
Although Ultrabooks are all anyone can talk about these days, some shoppers just want a solid multimedia notebook that can play the latest games and look good--and sound good--doing it. Enter Samsung's new 14-inch Series 5 500 and 15.6-inch Series 5, which boast load JBL speakers along with Intel's 3rd-generation Core processors and Nvidia's GeForce GT 630M graphics. Here's a quick rundown of both machines.
Samsung 14-inch Series 5 500
This 5-pound powerhouse is a smart choice for students who want a fast and sleek notebook for work and play. We like the swooping curves on this chassis, as well as the solid tactile feedback provided by the keyboard. Above the keyboard on the Series 5 500 you'll find two unique buttons, one for automatically adjusting power settings to help save juice and another for engaging Samsung EasyShare for sharing files with the click of a button via Wi-Fi Direct.
Under the hood is a Core i5-3210M processor and 500GB hard drive, plus Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics for playing some "Diablo III" between classes. You'll also find a DVD drive, which is easier for loading games than downloading. Too bad the version of the 14-inch Series 5 500 shipping in the U.S. won't sport the same silver-and-white design as the pre-production model we played with. Samsung has opted for a more tame black-and-gray aesthetic, although the brushed-metal like pattern on the lid looks cool. The notebook will be available in mid-June for $799.
15.6-inch Series 5 Notebook
The beefier of the two new Series 5 laptops, the $899 15.6-inch Series 5 has the same Nvidia GeForce GT 630M GPU as the 14-inch model but steps up the CPU to a Core i7-3610QM. It also has a roomier 750GB hard drive and adds a subwoofer on the bottom for a serious bass boost. Samsung bundles SoundAlive Technology for adding virtual 3D sound and switching between modes (like music and movies). You also get a dedicated number pad to the right of the keyboard.
While the lid is plastic, the finish has the appearance of brushed metal, which resists fingerprints. The 1366 x 768-pixel display is a bit low for our tastes, but the the 15.6-inch has some pretty impressive multimedia chops for the money. It, too, will be available in mid-June for $899.