Samsung Series 7 Chronos review: first look

10 Jan 2013
Samsung-Series-7-Chronos-at-CES-2013_thumb.jpg
Samsung-Series-7-Chronos-at-CES-2013_thumb.jpg

Don't be fooled by their similar names: the Samsung Series 7 Chronos couldn't be more different to its much smaller sibling, the Series 7 Ultra. This is a 15.6in behemoth designed for the heaviest of duties – Samsung uses the phrase “ultimate performance for professional creation” – and that’s obvious from the moment you pick it up.

That said, compared to other 15.6in laptops, the Chronos is quite light: Samsung claims it weighs 2.35kg. Mind you, it also claims that it’s just 20.9mm thick – we’ll have to measure it with the office callipers when the final sample arrives in the office, but we suspect it’s closer to 30mm at its fattest point.

What really marks it out from the rest is its battery life. The claim is 11.5hrs of use, and that would be an amazing achievement if it’s borne out. Our spokesman was light on details in terms of how this was achieved – we know it’s a lithium polymer battery and it uses proprietary Samsung technology, but the only definite is that the score was achieved in MobileMark 2007.

Samsung is also claiming that certain applications, such as Internet Explorer, will launch 1.5x faster thanks to “AccelRAM” caching, and that it will resume from Sleep in under two seconds. In our on-stand tests, this was closer to five seconds – we’re keeping our pinch-of-salt supply handy for now.

One thing we can say for sure is that the screen takes full advantage of that 15.6in diagonal. It includes 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and the viewing angles are excellent. Naturally, it includes ten-point touch support as well.

When you mix in the promise of quad-core Intel Core i7 processors, AMD Radeon HD 8870M graphics and up to 1TB of storage it’s quite a powerhouse.

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One of the big benefits of such a large chassis is that it gives Samsung space to squeeze in a number pad to the side of the keyboard. The rest of the keyboard is of more standard fare, but we found it comfortable enough when writing up this review.

We’re fans of the big trackpad too. It coped well when we used basic gestures - swiping from the left to switch between open applications, for instance. Pinch and zoom proved a little more hit and miss.

There’s room inside the chassis four two 4W speakers, designed in conjunction with JBL, and Samsung promises impressive audio performance. In a busy CES 2103 exhibition hall, this was impossible to judge.

We appreciate the inclusion of a full-size VGA port - this adds to the Series 7's business credentials - along with two USB 3 ports and a full HDMI port. These all sit to the left, with two USB 2 ports and a three-in-one memory card slot on the right. Note there's no optical drive.

Spot the difference

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But buyers beware. So far, I’ve been talking about the Series 7 Chronos H. Also sitting on the stand was a Series Chronos 7 M, pictured above left, and although they may look the same they’re really very different laptops.

The H stands for high-end, M for medium, and there’s a gulf between them. Some may not concern you: the M includes an aluminium lid and chassis top, whereas the whole of the H’s chassis is aluminium.

The M will have a lesser specification, although this is yet to be exactly determined: expect Core i5 rather than Core i7, though.

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And, as the photo to the left makes obvious, the keyboard is a different colour too (as with the H, it’s backlit).

But what really hits you is the difference in quality between the screens, with the M using a non-touch 15.6in screen with a lowly 1,366 x 768 resolution. When we're used to such spectacular screens from Samsung, it's also disappointing to see a blue sheen that takes away from the contrast.

Hit or miss?

This gulf between the two laptops makes for very differing views. The M feels like a miss: in 2013 we shouldn’t be talking about a 15.6in screen with such a low resolution and quality.

The H, on the other hand, is a laptop we could get very enthusiastic about. Sure, it’s cumbersome compared to Ultrabooks, but it lives up to Samsung’s promise of a top-end spec for people who need to push their laptops to the limit.

And, if that 11.5hrs of battery life is borne out in our tests, then it could easily become our A-List enthusiast laptop.

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