Well, look at what we have here! We just swung by Samsung's booth at Computex, and the outfit is showing off not one, but two touch-enabled variations of its Series 5 Ultrabooks. These include the Ultra Touch, a classic clamshell laptop, along with the Ultra Convertible, whose 13-inch display folds all the way back (not unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga). Both devices are on their way stateside; it's just not clear when or how much they'll cost. Until then, we've got hands-on preview photos below, along with detailed impressions and a pair of walk-through videos. So join us, won't you?
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch hands-on
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Convertible hands-on
Look and feel
Samsung didn't come all the way to Taipei to show you the great things it can do with metal unibodies and backlit keyboards. No, the real story here are the different form factors that are growing up around Windows 8, so it's not surprising to us that the overarching industrial design has taken a bit of a back seat. These are, more or less, variations on the same Series 5 Ultrabooks we already saw: a mix of metal and plastic, with not-backlit keys and 1366 x 768 displays. Tasteful stuff, but there's also's also a reason Samsung stuck these in its second-to-lowest product tier. (Across Sammy's lineup, Series 7 and 9 are higher-end.)
In terms of ports, you're looking at the same setup across both Ultrabooks: USB 3.0, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI, a 4-in-1 memory card reader and a combined mic / headphone jack. If you've been following along, you already know USB 3.0 is now a requirement in all Intel-endorsed Ultrabooks, but we still appreciate seeing HDMI and Ethernet on a machine like this.
Keyboard and trackpad
This is the same shallow but well spaced 'board you'll find on Samsung's other Series 5 Ultrabooks. Interestingly, the trackpad differs across the two devices: the clamshell Ultra Touch has a touchpad with discrete buttons, while the Ultra Convertible has a more spacious clickpad. We'll be curious to see if the smaller of the two pads meets Microsoft's requirements for gesture-enabled touchpads, though we have no reason to believe it doesn't.
Zach Honig, the man responsible for those photos you see up there, said it best: "That is one glossy display!" And it is, which is surprising given that Samsung's PC group has a history of using matte screens with wide viewing angles (Sammy does have some panel know-how by way of its TV division, don'tcha know). The thing is also a fingerprint magnet. And, in this early stage, the screen wobbles under the pressure of even light taps. These quibbles aside, both screens were exceedingly responsive to finger input. Just have a cheese cloth nearby to keep it looking pristine.
There's not much to say about the clamshell notebook: even a five year-old can latch onto the concept of touching a screen. In the case of the convertible, Samsung seems to have run into the same problem as Lenovo, which is to say that keyboard is exposed when the screen is in tablet mode. As ever, it feels strange to cradle a tablet-type device whose backside is comprised of various keys. We'll also say that the hinge mechanism felt slightly loose, but we're willing to chalk that up to pre-production kinks.
Samsung is resolutely not talking about processors or RAM today, though we noticed a display card listing a 500GB hard drive. This isn't surprising, since Samsung already puts 500GB HDDs in its entry-level Ultrabooks. (The ones already shipping are coupled with some flash storage for faster boot-ups, though we haven't received confirmation that'll be the case here.) At least one of the units we tested had about 128GB of total storage, which tells us solid-state drives will probably be offered.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.