Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best budget utraportable? The Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02

Characteristics of a good ultraportable. Last year our favorite low cost ultraportable laptop was the Intel Core i3 version Acer Aspire TimelimeX 1830T. We like this a lot, because its 11.6-inch screen and keyboard are big enough to comfortably do productive work. Weighing in at just 3-pounds with a 6-cell battery it is light enough for something to be carried around daily while providing more than 6 hours of real world battery life. We also appreciated that fact that at a price of a bit over Php30,000 it was not too expensive. 


A low price is important for us insofar as an ultraportable laptop is concerned. While out office bound desktop replacements last for years (this article is being typed on a four year old HP Compaq 6510b which has never had any repairs made on it), our daily carry machine are replaced every year or two. Being carried around daily, they are more prone to damage from accidents, wear and tear from being lugged around in a sleeve or bag the whole day, and also are more prone to loss.

For a daily carry machine we recommend something inexpensive.

From Intel Core to AMD Fusion. When the AMD Fusion was announced at the end of last year, I was really excited about it. It is not as fast as even the slowest Intel Core i3 system, but it is fast enough, certainly much faster than any Intel Atom based system. And it should result in lower priced options.

While Intel love to markets the speed of its processors, for a desktop replacement or larger laptop used to play games, encode video or music and other intensive tasks I do appreciate the power.
But for a small ultraportable which I will use to edit documents, check my mail browse the web and maybe at most kill time with watching a movie or playing a casual game while traveling for work, do I really need all that power.

The AMD Fusion platform brought the price down from what we considered a good low cost ultraportable from a bit over 30K to a bit over 20K.



HP DM1z (HP Pavilion DM1-3016AU and DM1-3205AU). We were hoping that Acer would release a E-350 AMD Fusion version of their Acer Aspire TimelimeX 1830T but that did not happen. Acer did release a AMD Fusion power Acer AO722, but with the lower powered C-50 and C-60 AMD Fusion APU's at a price that made other options look better.

Ultimately, the best local option for a budget ultraportable for the past seven months has been HP's DM1z. But I think we may have a new king.


Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02. Initially, I was concerned about the keyboard of the Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02. With a 1.65GHz dual core processor and Radeon 6320* graphics and 2GB of RAM it has enough power for what I would normally need from an ultraportable. Storage at 500GB is sufficient and it has all the modern features you would expect like HDMI. All that is missing is USB 3.0. All this in a near MacBook Air like 2.7 pounds and much lighter than the 3.4 pound HP DM1z.


*The spec's sheet we saw says Radeon 6310, but being an AMD E-450 I think that may be an error.

The price of Php23,900 is a very good price for this unit, and that is on 12 months deferred payment. On cash or straight credit card payment, you should be able to get another 2-3K off the price.
 
Being smaller than you typical 11.6-inch laptop being 10.9 x 7.7 x 1.1 inches as compared to the more typically sized is smaller than the  HP DM1z'a is a bigger 11.4 x 8.4 x 1.2 inches, I was worried it might feel to cramped. After getting a close look at Samsung's NP305U1A-A02, the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 keyboard is fine in terms of key spacing, but the keys are small even for an 11.6-inch laptop. I could work with it though.

The other area of concern is the 4-cell battery. It is a powerful 4-cell battery rated at 4000 mAh. Still the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 battery is weaker than the 6-cell units in the  Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T (5,800 mAh) and HP DM1z (4,770 mAh), both of get over 6-hours of real world battery life. Feedback from users indicates that you can expect 4 hours of real world use from the Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02.

I guess it had to have a chink in its armor. Still, it is my favorite budget ultraportable at the moment. But in the end, it is a matter of priorities, with the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 you get 0.7 pounds less weight than the HP DM1z, but also 770mAh less of precious juice.

Hopefully Samsung will offer an extended 6-8 cell battery for it in the future.

47 comments:

  1. A shop at an SM branch is selling a Samsung NP305u1a which the sales guy says is 6 cell. I asked him to confirm it and he did. He said 6 cell. When I checked the internet I found that the Indian version of this model is indeed 6 cell, but it is only an E350, not E450. I was wondering why an Indian version is in that shop. I am thinking of buying it as it solved the 4 cell problem of the model. I can live with E350.

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  2. Sounds like a good trade off. What is the mAh rating of the 6-cell battery. The 4-cell unit was rated a 4000 mAh.

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  3. I did not ask. I will try to check it in the internet. Thanks

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  4. @anonymous,

    if it has a E350 CPU, maybe it's NOT the NP305U1A-A02 but the NP305U1A-A01? In Switzerland, the NP305U1A-A01 has a E350 CPU (and a NP305U1A-A02 isn't to be found at all…)

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  5. I found in tipidpc that pchub of gilmore is offering this as 20,990 (for Cash only)

    http://www.tipidpc.com/viewitem.php?iid=11961398

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  6. Looks like the link is already updated. Php18,990 cash price. Saw it going for Php19,990 on 12 months deferred a VillMan.

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  7. just bought mine yesterday at 17,900.
    upgraded to 4gig, i added 1,700

    anyone wants to buy 2gig memory?
    :)

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  8. I am sure you will find a buyer at www.tipidpc.com :)

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  9. sir,may i know what is the difference between the ati 6320 and 6310 (both bundled with amd e450) in terms of real-world performance? like, is the 6320 noticably better than the 6310?

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  10. The AMD Radeon HD 6320 and Radeon HD 6310 and both run at the same base clock rate of 500MHz. The 6320 features the automatic overclocking up to 600MHz (Turbo Core).

    Radeon HD 6320 500-600MHz
    Radeon HD 6310 500MHz

    Differences in actual 3D performance in theory could be as high as 16%. Whether you actually get this advantage from the 6320 depends on the what software you are running.

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  11. what I love about this notebook is the screen, the only matte screen in 12 incher category?

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  12. Hi. I am planning to buy a new laptop soon. But I cannot decide which to choose between HP Pavillion DM1-3205AU and Samsung NP305UA. Can you help me choose the right one for me? Basically, I would want my laptop to perform fast without compromising much of my internet experience. I also would want it to have a long battery life. It is also my concern the durability and endurance. Which among the two has these preferences? Your help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

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  13. The HP should have a larger battery and hence longer battery life. I really cannot say much about durability, but both a reasonably well built. Between these two, the size and the keyboard would be the deciding factor I think. The Samsung has a much smaller form factor and is lighter. Correspondingly, the keyboard is a bit more cramped and has smaller keys. I think this would be the deciding factor for most buyers.

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  14. Between Asus EEEPC 1215, HP Pavillion DM1-3205AU and Samsung NP305UA, which can you suggest to me to have? I am in need one that can perform well and can stand heavy tasks. Please provide me with the pros and cons so I can see clearly which to choose. Thank you.

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  15. If you are looking for the lightest and most portable, the Samsung would be your choice, at the expense of a lower capacity (4000 mAh) battery and smaller keyboard. The HP is larger but has the same 11.6 inch screen, It has a larger battery (4400 mAh) than the Samsung.

    The Asus is the largest one, with a 12.1-inch screen, It should be the most capable if you find the right model, with a USB 3.0 port and a 5200 mAh battery. Some do not come with a USB 3.0 port and have lower capacity batteries.

    We had an older DM1 (E-350) with a 4800 mAh battery,

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  16. Is Samsung a reliable brand when it comes to laptops? I am after the consumer's satisfaction regarding its durability and support. How many years can it last? Thank you.

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  17. Internationally, Samsung is new to laptops. Support depends on your location, but support for laptops is generally really just limited to warranty support. As for durability. Samsung laptops are not built as though as Lenovo Thinkpads but appear reasonably well built. Inside, the components of laptops are pretty much identical, so as long as there is no issue as to overheating, should all last about equally long.

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  18. How about Asus laptops? Are there any major issues that would likely influence the consumers in buying one? What are the cons as regards Asus laptops? thanks in advance.

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  19. Internally, the laptops of different brands are the same. So when I select one, I check for heat, too much flex on the keyboards and weak hinges. We have used two Asus netbooks, which served us for 2 and 3 years before we disposed of them. Both were in good working order when we gave them away. Basically, I have good a impression of Asus laptops.

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  20. Which is better AMD Dual Core E450 or Intel Pentium B950?If it's the AMD, which laptop has it? If it is Intel Pentium, which brand? Please help me decide because I am quite uncertain which to purchase. There are a good variety to choose from as regards the brands but how about the performance. That's why I want to make sure that I will have a good buy. Thank you in advance.

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  21. THe B950 offers a more powerful processor and integrated graphics. If you are looking for a smaller laptop (11.6 to 12.1 inches), the locally (Philippine) options would limit you to E-450's and higher priced Intel Core i3 to i5 options available. I have only seen B950's on larger 14 to 15 inch laptops.

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  22. about the samsung netbook, is it capable of multitasking? I really need a netbook that can handle web development softwares

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  23. Yes, it can multi-task, but if you plan to do a lot of multi-tasking you may want to upgrade RAM to 4GB.

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  24. can you give me a short review about Lenovo G470 as regards its speed and performance and its durability as well? the pros and cons. Thank you in advance.

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  25. I have not been able to get a good look at the Lenovo G470. It comes in several variants, powered by B9xx, i3 or i5 processors. Even the entry level model would have more processing power than an E-450.

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  26. between Lenovo G470 B9xx and HP Pavilion DM1 E-350, which do you prefer?and why? thank you.

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  27. are there any changes regarding the samsung np305 features today? is it still comes with 4cell battery? or it is now 6 cell?

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    Replies
    1. Have not heard of any changes. Will give another unit a look next time I am in the area.

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  28. this samsung has the radeon 6320 right? how to use the Turbo Core feature? Is it automatic or there will a switch for overclocking?

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  29. I am planning to buy a Netbook and am torn between the HP Pavilion DM1-3205AU and the Acer Aspire One AO722. Which one is better?

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    Replies
    1. The AO722 probably comes with a AMD Fusion C-50 or C-60. The DM1-3205 comes with a E-350. If you use both I think you will find the C-50/60 feels sluggish compared to the E-350. I would advise you get the DM1.

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  30. the best bang for the buck is hp inspiron B950 17k with free buffalo wifi router on cash payment at villman

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    Replies
    1. A laptop with a Intel B950 processor at 17K is a very good deal indeed. Given the B950's thermal design requirements I am guessing that is a 14-inch laptop which weighs in at 4.5-5 pounds. Not really in the same category as a Samsung NP305 and would be too heavy to be considered an ultraportable.

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  31. I got a 3-cell model of this laptop. Everything is fine except for the battery life and relative speed. I thought I could use this netbook as my main computer since I don't need much power, it is still slow if you do your heavy duty work in this machine, even if you are just writing (given that you write with a media player on, a few tabs of browser, wifi and other things not just using a word processor).

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    Replies
    1. Windows memory management still lags behind it Unix based counterparts (Linux and OS X).

      Delete
  32. Hi. Good day. I'm a teacher and I want to buy a notebook. Between Samsung NP305 and HP DM1z, which would you recommend? I'll basically use it making presentation, lectures and record keeping. which one would you recommend? are there other options as well? I'd appreciate your response. Thank you and God bless.

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    Replies
    1. The NP305 advantages are it is smaller and lighter, but it also comes with a smaller keyboard and smaller keys. Try out the keyboard, it both are okay go with the Samsung.

      Personally, I would go with the DM1z. I have a hard time with the NP305 keyboard.

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    2. thank you very much... I was at the verge of getting a 14" samsung NP300V4. still have a few days to think about it. i really need the portability since i commute on a daily basis.

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  33. plz tell me that intel Core i3 2367M (1.4ghz) is better or AMD E-450 in terms of processing and graphics?

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    Replies
    1. In benchmarks, the Core i3 2367M is twice as fast as an AMD-450 overall. In terms of graphics performance it is about 70% faster.

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  34. 8GB of RAM for 305U
    Yes or Not?

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    Replies
    1. 4GB installed.
      I want to upgrade to 8GB
      Does it make sense?

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    2. Well, Im too wondering the same. I bought this with a 2GB RAM, and it seems all too sluggish to me, with a dozen Chrome tabs open. THe Samsung site says the motherboard supports only 4GB RAM, but I really wanta put in an 8GB chip into my Notebook. Should I take the jump ??

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  35. That laptop supports 8 GB of RAM. If I remember correctly that model only has a single dimm slot.

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