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Samsung Series 3 (blue) review
What is it?
One of Samsung's affordable 'essentials' laptops.
Attractive design, quad-core processor and good graphics performance.
It's heavy, and the screen has a limited viewing angle
Good for the price, but the screen is merely adequate.
Someone at Samsung must have been having one of those what-the-hell days when they came up with this one. Most of Samsung's budget-priced Series 3 models are identikit lumps of grey plastic with the usual Intel processors inside. Then along comes this cuckoo in the nest, with its fancy blue trimmings and an AMD processor that we'd never even heard of before.
The metallic blue cover of the Series 3 is very attractive - it manages to look both businesslike and stylish at the same time. It's actually made out of plastic, but is still quite solidly built, and we were pleased to see that the rigid top panel provides good protection for the large 15.6-inch screen.
That screen is a bit of a mixed bag, though - it's the one real sign of cost-cutting on this £500 model. We like the non-reflective matte finish, which produces less glare than the glossy screens used by so many laptops these days.
But while the image is sharp and colourful it's not as bright as it could be and has a fairly limited viewing angle. It's fine for watching video or checking out some photos on your own, but a friend or colleague sitting next to you isn't going to get a very good view.
Having such a large screen also pushes the weight up to about 2.5kg. That's about average for a laptop of this size, though, and the Series 3 is also relatively compact. It only measures about 35mm thick, which isn't bad considering that it has a built-in DVD drive.
Other features include an HDMI interface for connecting to a flat-screen TV, wireless networking, webcam, and a headphone socket - which you'll definitely need as the built-in speakers are monumentally pants.
Fast and capable
It's not all bad news, though. The real standout feature is that AMD processor - the A6-3410MX, to be precise. This only runs at a modest 1.6GHz, but it's a quad-core chip that provides a decent amount of horsepower for word-processing, browsing the web and other routine computing tasks.
The 6GB of memory is good too, as is the 750GB hard disk, which provides plenty of room for storing all your photos, music and videos. It can even handle a spot of 3D gaming too. It might struggle with the latest 3D action blockbusters, but old favourites such as Far Cry 2 run really well - which isn't something you can say about many laptops in this price range.
Battery life is quite respectable for a budget machine. We got three and a half hours out of the Series 3 when using wi-fi to watch a few episodes of Being Human on the BBC iPlayer, so you could probably squeeze more than four hours out of it for less demanding work.
It's a shame about the lacklustre screen, as that prevents the Series 3 from being a real budget bargain. Even so, it's still got the all the basic features and performance you need from a low-cost laptop and is well worth checking out the next time you're in Dixons or PC World.
URL: Samsung Series 3
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366x768 resolution
Processor: AMD A6-3410MX at 1.6GHz
Hard disk: 750GB