Samsung Series 7 Ultra review: first look

8 Jan 2013
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Have no doubt: the Samsung Series 7 Ultra is a premium laptop. Indeed, Samsung slam-dunks this point by including the phrase "Samsung Premium" on the Ultrabook sticker here at CES 2013. It needn’t have bothered: the feeling of quality is obvious as soon as you pick up the solid aluminium body, with no plastic underside to spoil the effect.

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There are some nice little touches to enhance this first impression. A silver power button that sits in its own recess, a stylish black accent to the screen surround, and a cleverly designed hinge all add to the effect.

The screen continues the high-end theme, boasting ten-point multitouch and a 350 nits brightness. Its key specification is the resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 on a 13.3in screen means pinpoint definition compared to standard screens.

That has practical benefits, too. We're typing this on the Series 7 Ultra and have Word sitting on the left-hand side and Excel 2013 on the other, and even from two to three feet away it's easy to see what we're typing on-screen.

We suspect that, when we finally get a Series 7 Ultra into our Labs for testing, it will race through the benchmarks. This confidence stems from a dedicated graphics chip in the form of AMD's Radeon HD8570M, and the choice of a Core i7 or i5 processor.

For now, we'll have to take Samsung's word on the battery life - it claims eight hours. Also note that when Samsung claims 15 seconds boot times, it's referring to SSD-based options. The mechanical hard disk sample we used took 20 seconds.

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As with most Samsung laptops, the touchpad is huge, which is great for gesture controls. It may be a little overkill on the Series 7 Ultra, but you can have no complaints about responsiveness.

We like the keyboard too. While the keys don't have a huge amount of travel, they have enough feedback to make it obvious that you've made contact, and the only concession Samsung makes to size is to reduce the height of the function keys.

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We're pleased to see a full-size HDMI port keeps its place, and if you buy the optional adapter you can hook up a traditional VGA display via the mini-VGA port. There's only one USB 3 port, with two USB 2 ports keeping it company.

There will be a non-touch model as well as a touchscreen version, and this makes a difference to weight: the touch Ultra weighs 1.65kg, non-touch 1.46kg. The touch layer adds 1.4mm to the height as well, but at 18.9mm thick it’s hardly a terrible compromise.

It adds up to a powerful, lightweight laptop. We can’t wait to get a sample into our Labs for full-scale benchmarking.

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