The Samsung NP300E5A-A01DX (yes, got to love those long names) is a laptop model that appears to be pretty exclusive to DSG (Dixons, Currys and PC World) and a handful of other stores . Currently retailing at a penny under £400 at Dixons it sports 4GB memory, Intel Core i3-2330M processor, 500GB hard drive and all running Windows 7 64-bit.
It has a 15.6” screen but remains compact thanks to a thin frame around that screen. Never-the-less, they’ve still found room above to fit in a webcam and the keyboard has a full width keyboard, including keypad. The keyboard is of the “Scrabble tile” variety and is very good in use – the keys are nicely spaced with a good travel.
The trim of the laptop is generally black with a silver and black lid – the silver being ridged, probably to avoid scratch marks being too obvious. It makes it a little more stylish than a plain black lid, but there is quite a bit of give in what is, otherwise, a sturdy machine. Having said that, even though the lid bows in quite easily I struggled to get any pressure to have an effect on the screen itself. The screen is LED, running at a 1366 x 768 resolution. It won’t set the world on fire but it’s perfectly adequate, especially at the price.
There are no particular thrills when it comes to its capabilities – 3 x USB 2 ports and a DVD writer, rather than the USB 3 and Blu-Ray players that many are equipped with these days. However, it does sport both VGA and HDMI outputs, b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 3, a 4-in-1 card reader and Gigabyte Ethernet, so not all is lost.
With the lid open, the interior sports more silver and, in particular, a large and rather splendid trackpad. It reminds me of the Apple trackpads in appearance, although there’s no glass here.
Samsung have, as usual, installed many of their own programs but also various trial software. The first thing I did was remove the trials. The Samsung software is, I have to say, generally useful though – this includes a program which optimises the boot time. However, the driver update program refused to work, even after I downloaded the latest version from the Samsung website.
The packaging is kept nice and minimal – you get the power supply, a quick start guide (the full manual in installed on the laptop itself) and (very usefully – and rare these days) a recovery DVD.
With “normal” internet and office use at default power values, the battery last around 5 hours 40 minutes.
You’ll notice I’ve not mentioned the sound capabilities – not because I haven’t checked, but I rarely find it useful to talk about. Who’s going to use the tiny speakers in a laptop for anything other than Windows sounds? If you’re playing music or a movie, I’d always suggest a separate pair of speakers or using headphones.
[review]For a 15.6” with optical drive, it’s surprisingly lithe for this price. It’s also quite powerful, with a host of useful features. If you’ve not got a huge budget to spend, this is highly recommended – it would make a particularly good laptop for a teenage, for instance. A little more robustness in the case lid and the removal of some un-needed trial software and this would be perfect.[/review]