Samsung Mini Laptop – Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US

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One of the most popular laptops revealed at last year’s edition of CES was the Samsung Series 9, which is a very slim, 13-inch laptop that could be considered as the Windows alternative to Apple’s extremely popular MacBook Air. After the launch of that model came its 11-inch sibling, with both models having a starting of less than $1,000.

The Korean company launched the Series 3 later on last year, which is a more streamlined lineup of laptops, and the first model in this family is the one we’ll review in the following paragraphs. It is the NP300U1A-A01US which a Staples-exclusive model. This can be considered as a more affordable version of the high-end Series 9 and it manages to fill a niche for an 11-inch ultraportable. It adopts a sharp design and it doesn’t come with the usual AMD Fusion platform. Instead, you get the considerably more potent Intel Core i3 processor, while the rest of the hardware specifications are on par with systems like the HP Pavilion dm1z and the popular Lenovo IdeaPad S205, two top-selling mini laptops of 2011.

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: techgurulive.info)

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: techgurulive.info)

When it came out, this model had a retail price tag of $699 but soon after its launch it was offered with various discounts. This price puts it close to the full-size notebook territory as well as next to the more premium ultraportable systems powered by AMD.

Under the hood of the Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US is a second-generation Intel Core i3-2357M processor clocked at 1.30 GHz. It has been fitted by the Korean company with 4GB of DDR3 memory working at 1,333 MHz and comes with a 320GB HDD that’s spinning at 5,400 rpm. This mini laptop features an Intel HM65 chipset while the graphics power is handled by the integrated solution in the form of an Intel HD 3000. This Series 3 model is running on Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, the 64-bit edition of the OS.

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: bestnetbooksreview.com)

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: bestnetbooksreview.com)

The mini laptop measures 10.9 x 7.9 x 0.9 – 1.0 inches and tips the scales at 2.7 pounds (3.3 pounds if we take into account its AC adapter). It has a gray plastic configuration which is not as sleek as the Series 9 model but manages to be very eye-catching. The mini laptop wears a brushed-metal lid that curves downward at the hinge, offering a curved design that you have probably seen on pricier Samsung laptops.

Opening this ultraportable reveals a rather pedestrian look since the keyboard tray has a light gray plastic finish, just like the wrist rest. You won’t find any extra controls or buttons aside from the keyboard, power button and the touchpad. Speaking of the keyboard, it has an island-style configuration with flat-topped keys that have plenty of space between them. We appreciate that Sammy installed full-size Enter, Tab and Shift keys which should grant a fast typing experience.

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com)

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com)

As far as the touchpad is concerned, it has a decent size and has an elongated style which allows a more comfortable two-finger scrolling experience. What we don’t like is the single rocker-style bar that holds the mouse buttons. We prefer separate left and right mouse buttons because these are easier and more comfortable to use.

Moving on, let’s talk about the 11.6-inch display installed in this Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US. It has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which as you probably know is pretty much the standard resolution nowadays among laptops that have a screen size of up to 15 inches. The one in this laptop manages to be very bright and clear, but the viewing angles are quite poor. As for the internal speakers, these sound rather tinny and on par with other similar laptops.

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: savingcouponsale.com)

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: savingcouponsale.com)

As for connectivity features, it comes with VGA out and an HDMI port, followed by a headphone and microphone combo jack, an SD card reader and three USB 2.0 ports. For networking it has 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an Ethernet port. These are pretty much standard port offerings that you get in this Series 3. What we appreciate is that the Ethernet port features a small flap which can be folded open in order to properly insert the Cat 5 cable so the port actually occupies less space in comparison to the usual configuration. This solution is getting more and more popular among ultraportables.

The main difference between this model and other ultraportables of this size like the aforementioned Lenovo IdeaPad S205 and the HP dm1z would have to be the choice of the processor. In the Sammy you find a low-voltage Intel Core i3 CPU that is a lot faster than the AMD E-350 / E-450 APU found in those two models. However, in real-world conditions, you won’t notice that much of a difference between these CPUs but if you do a lot of multitasking and you have more than a few windows opened, the Core i3 is the recommended solution for you.

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

We end this article on a sad note because the battery in this Samsung Series 3 NP300U1A-A01US is not very good, being able to last for just 2 hours and 40 minutes during a demanding test consisting of video playback. As a comparison, the aforementioned HP Pavilion dm1z will last under the same conditions for almost five and a half hours. In normal working conditions, you should be able to squeeze up to 4 hours from the battery in the Series 3 which for most people will suffice.