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Samsung 5-Series NP540U3C-A01 13.3-inch Ultrabook Notebook Review

Samsung 5-Series NP540U3C-A01 13.3-inch Ultrabook Notebook Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Samsung's 5-Series NP540U3C-A01 Ultrabook is the first touch screen laptop to cross PCSTATS test bench with Windows 8 installed. Our first impressions of this new touch screen interface are positive...
 85% Rating:   
Filed under: Notebooks Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Samsung May 08 2013   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Notebooks > Samsung NP540U3C-A01

Challenges with the Touch Screen Windows 8 Interface

Touch screen Windows 8 notebook

After first powering up the Samsung NP540U3C-A01 ultrabook Windows 8 will lead you through a short set of screens to identify its peculiar menu placements and familiarize first time touch screen users with the new interface. After that, touch screen proficiency comes pretty naturally.

Novice users shouldn't need any instructions as the interface is essentially self explanatory - if you can use an iPad, you'll have no problems here. The touch screen nicely compliments the mouse and notebooks' touch pad; it's a better tool for the job in specific instances, but not a replacement for the speed of a keyboard keyboard nor the precision of a mouse.

It's best put this way - the touch screen expands what the notebook can do and what you can do with the notebook. A touch screen is an intuitive way to browse long website pages, to quickly tap IEs back button, move windows around the screen, finger paint with some of Microsoft's newer Apps and essentially augment tasks previously focused around the touch pad or mouse.

Microsoft's new finger painting app. This one is for the kids.

The touch screen is a better interface tool in many instances but it is absolutely not a replacement for a keyboard and mouse. Let's spill some pixels talking about the Samsung NP540U3C-A01's touch screen; where it rocks, where it falls short and how the Windows 8 touch screen interface stands up against expectations created by Apple's ubiquitous iPad.

Touch Screen - First Impressions

While Apple's iPad is several orders of magnitude below what a notebook like the Samsung NP540U3C-A01 is technically capable of, the iPad does have that benchmark setting touch screen interface. Chances are you've used an iPad, so you know the iPad touch screen is intuitive and not cluttered by administrative menus along the edges of the screen. Scrolling and zooming features work well on the iPad, but highlighting text and copying and pasting, not so much.

With Samsung's NP540U3C-A01 Ultrabook and more specifically the Windows 8 touch interface, the reverse is sort of true. Scrolling up and down long website pages is generally much quicker by flicking the screen. There's also a whole world of new paint programs for kids and swiping through the Metro interface is pretty neat. All this good stuff is tempered by several reoccurring issues and an overabundance of Windows system menus that get in the way and make the touch interface on a notebook way more complicated that it really ought to be.

In no particular order, here are some observations from PCSTATS first experience with a first generation touch screen notebook as we put it though its paces.

- How do you interact with a touch screen that's not a tablet? - On a notebook there are really only three edges of the display accessible to the user, of these only the left and right sides of the screen are practical to handle. This tends to concentrate most of the users' finger actions along the left and right sides of the screen where Windows 8 inconveniently has most of its system control menu's located. As a result, touch screen navigation in Windows 8 inadvertently activates too many system and command menus (at least in our trials with it). For example, the right-side Windows 8 menu was constantly flying out into the screen when we didn't want it too. Very annoying.

- Websites Zoom in when you try to scroll down - I'm not sure if it's because we paused with a finger on the screen, or flicking down (to scroll a webpage) mimicked some Win 8 gestural command, but the touch screen was constantly zooming in when we didn't want it to. This even happened when only one finger was interacting with the display. Doubly annoying.

- How do you handle a tablet-notebook? - Laptops and tablets are held differently because how we interact with keyboards and screens is different. The challenge is, how do you hold a laptop with a tablet screen? Holding a laptop screen by the sides, as you would a tablet, doesn't work very well when there is a weighty keyboard attached to the bottom of the screen. If you're laying back on a chair or couch for example, the touch screen is the easiest way to casually nose around the internet. The thing we discovered is that you just can't handle a touch screen notebook like you would tablet, even though you can interact with the screen in the same way. The two formfactors may have been blended, but don't treat the Samsung NP540U3C -A01 like an iPad. Treat it and handle it like a notebook and your user experience will be better.

- Windows 8.... - Microsoft Windows 8 is an asinine operating system with a GUI and menu system that will systematically drive an entire generation of computer users back to paper and pencil. More to the point, our enjoyment of the Samsung NP540U3C-A01's wonderful hardware side was severely crippled by Microsoft's ineffective new user interface. Needless to say, I've developed a pretty strong negative opinion of Microsoft Windows 8 after using Samsung's beautiful little ultrabook for a couple weeks, however it's unfair to rant about Windows 8 shortcomings that can be chalked up to personal taste, so I won't. If you like Win 8, I tip my hat to you - this Ultrabook is built with it in mind.

- Screen doesn't tilt back far enough - The screen doesn't bend back especially far and since there is a glossy touch screen panel in front of the LCD, there are times when rear lights are reflected in the screen making text too difficult to read.

Clearly, there are times when a touch screen is the most intuitive method to manipulate data or navigate a website, as countless finger printed monitors over the last 30 years can attest to. The Windows 8 touch screen interface gets it about 70% right. I'd be more interested in the 2nd Generation interface whenever that is released, though.

Let's crack this Samsung 5-series Ultrabook open for a quick look under the metal chassis.

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Contents of Article: Samsung NP540U3C-A01
 Pg 1.  Samsung 5-Series NP540U3C-A01 13.3-inch Ultrabook Notebook Review
 Pg 2.  360° View of the Samsung NP540U3C-A01
 Pg 3.  360° View of the Samsung NP540U3C-A01 Continued
 Pg 4.  LCD Viewing Angles and a Shoddy Webcam
 Pg 5.  — Challenges with the Touch Screen Windows 8 Interface
 Pg 6.  Looking Under the Hood
 Pg 7.  Notebook Benchmarks: MobileMark, Sysmark 2012, PCmark Vantage
 Pg 8.  Notebook Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06, 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 11
 Pg 9.  Notebook Benchmarks: Sandra 2013 CPU / Memory / SSD
 Pg 10.  Notebook SSD Benchmarks: PCmark Vantage HDD Suite, AS SSD
 Pg 11.  Conclusions: Samsung's NP540U3C-A01 Core i5 Ultrabook

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