The Samsung Series 4 400B2B (model NP-400B2B-A01-US) has just become available in the United States, so we put together this small review of the ultraportable business laptop, trying to help you find out if it’s a good buy.
Samsung Series 4 400B2B Design
We spotted the 12.5-inch Samsung 400B2B at the IFA Show, standing alongside its bigger sibling – the 14″ 400B4B. These laptops sport serious looking exteriors, pretty much similar to the Lenovo ThinkPads. The cases are made of reinforced matte plastics, making them able to withstand a pressure of “up to 1,000 pounds”. We haven’t put that weight on the laptops to test it, but both certainly feel very sturdy on palm rests and lids. Metal hinges further enhance their ruggedness, and with shock resistant hard drives and spill resistant keyboards, business folks will feel confident using and carrying the Series 4 around.
The ultraportable version weighs 3.84 pounds and is 1.11-inch thin.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard has classic-style non-chiclet keys. While typing, the keys feel soft and are quiet, with a decent travel. We have no complaints on keyboard’s build quality and haven’t noticed any flex. When it comes to the layout, keep in mind that the model showed on the images has a UK keyboard, while the US version has a larger left Shift and a square Enter button, instead of the inverted-L shaped.
Also keep in mind that its spill resistance is limited to maximal 50cc of liquid spilled per 10 seconds, so it will withstand only minor spills.
And here’s another one design similarity with ThinkPads. There’s a pointer stick in the middle of the keyboard, accompanying left and right click buttons above the trackpad and two more click buttons for the trackpad itself. In this field, everything does the job excellent, from click buttons’ optimal stiffness, to the responsive and accurate trackpad.
The LED display has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, which is suitable for a 12.5″ panel. We like its anti-glare coating, but brightness is mediocre. On the other side, viewing angles are very good.
Samsung 400B2B Windows Benchmark
Regarding internals, the model we saw had a mid-range 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 – 2310M 2.1GHz dual-core processor with integrated Intel HD graphics, 3GB of RAM, and a 500GB HDD, but the NP-400B2B-A01US model available States-side is more powerful, with a Core i5-2520M and 4GB RAM, while the HDD is 320GB. Samsung earlier said the Series 4 12.5-incher will also ship with a Core i7 processor and dedicated Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics. There’s no optical drive.
The Core i3-based model delivers a Windows Experience Index score of 5.5, with a 6.4 sub-score in the CPU department, 5.5 for RAM, desktop and 3D graphics performance of 5.6 and 6.2 respectively, and 5.9 for data transfer rate. Even with this basic configuration, the laptop will effortlessly enable you to do your everyday business and office (multi)tasks.
Series 4 400B2B Battery Life
Samsung says the battery life is up to 7 hours with the standard 6-cell pack. When plugged out from the power source, Windows showed 7 hours and 8 minutes of battery life remaining, with a custom power plan chosen, including brightness set to viewable 60%.
Other Features and Connectivity
The Samsung Series 4 400B2B is definitely an enterprise-class ultraportable, since it features a built in fingerprint-reader, the TPM security module, and Professional version of Windows 7. There are a 1.3MP webcam, dual microphones, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth. We like the choice of ports, including a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0/eSATA, and USB 2.0, as well as VGA and HDMI connectors, ExpressCard slot, and a 4-in-1 media card slot.
Samsung Series 4 400B2B Review Conclusion
A price / features comparison to similar notebooks from other makers will help us draw a conclusion about value of the Samsung Series 4 400GB2B. The 400B2B-A01(US) with the aforementioned specs (Core i5-2520M, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, fingerprint reader, Bluetooth) and with a 3-year warranty, retails for about $925 and up. The same sized, specced, and warranted Lenovo ThinkPad X220 currently costs $1,081 at Lenovo.com, but that’s not a big difference when compared to the 12.5″ HP EliteBook 2560p which is sold for $1,485 with the same innards and a 3-Y warranty.
If you want a high-quality and speedy business laptop but also one a lot cheaper than its direct competitors, go for the Series 4 400B2B. We do recommend it, but we would like to see some ruggedness standard certifications, instead of only Samsung’s ruggedness claims. In addition to that, we would prefer its availability in other configurations, including a screen option with better brightness. For now, there’s only one fixed config for the US customers – the NF-400B2B-A01(US), but that one is a good shopping choice.