Sometimes the only way to make progress is to leave something behind.
The Samsung Series 5 Ultra makes sense for today's mobile students and teachers. It's a very sleek unit that incorporates many traditional notebook features into a lightweight and flexible ultrabook, without sacrificing usability or power.
The Series 5 Ultra is surprisingly lightweight — only 3.9 pounds and less than an inch thick, and its stylish muted silver finish is attractive and durable. The ultrabook opens easily, with a sturdy and wide center hinge. Once it's open, the user will find a 14-inch display running at 1366x786 resolution and 300-nit brightness that's readable under a variety of lighting conditions and from several viewing angles. A matte finish further reduces glare in bright lighting, and a bezel-mounted, 1.3-megapixel high-definition webcam makes for easy, high-quality video conferencing.
The full-size keyboard offers comfortable chiclet-style keys that are light and responsive, well-spaced and easy to access. The frame provides adequate space for palm rests while still offering an ample touchpad with multitouch and multigesture support. Dedicated left and right mouse buttons are easily accessible and prevent the accidental clicks that can frustrate new users of touchpads with clickable corners.
Users will appreciate both the ultrabook feel and the conventional notebook technologies, such as a DVD drive and the 500-gigabyte HDD with 16GB Express Cache. The Series 5 Ultra runs on an Intel Core i5-2467M processor and contains 4GB of DDR3 RAM.
The ultrabook also has a wide variety of peripheral and network connectivity options, with two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port. External VGA and HDMI ports offer video output. For network connectivity, the unit has a 10/100/1000 wired Ethernet port or 802.11x wireless. The Series 5 Ultra supports Bluetooth 3.0 High Speed and Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology for connecting wirelessly to WiDi-capable displays.
The unit ships with Windows 7 Home Premium and an installed suite of management software that includes a range of preinstalled productivity software, including Microsoft Office Starter, Skype, Amazon Kindle and Cyberlink Media Suite.
In addition to the installed software, the Series 5 Ultra includes limited-term subscriptions to Norton Internet Security and Absolute Data Protect — products that offer malware protection and remote wipe capabilities. The Series 5 Ultra also has a number of Samsung utilities that simplify the user experience. These include Easy Settings Manager for simplified navigation of Control Panel items; Easy File Share for simplified document sharing; and Easy Migration for transfer of files from an old workstation.
The Series 5 Ultra delivers a very strong value proposition for any IT staff. It's a great blend of performance and portability for less than $1,000. This combination of features, portability and cost make the Series 5 Ultra an excellent choice that will satisfy users and budgets alike.
The 8-cell lithium polymer battery delivers a reasonable six hours of battery life. However, Samsung seals the battery, which means it can't be changed. The Intel HD Graphics 3000 adapter, while a good product, doesn't offer exceptional performance for graphics-intensive applications. Both battery life and graphics are respectable, but not the best in their class.