Samsung Series 7 Ultra review
A high-quality touchscreen, stunning chassis and discrete AMD graphics make for a multitalented Ultrabook
Ultrabooks are all about luxury, and Samsung’s Series 7 Ultra is no exception to the rule: the brushed aluminium chassis looks every inch the stylish ultraportable. Scratch the surface, however, and Samsung’s latest offering ups the ante with a Full-HD touchscreen and, most unusual of all, dedicated AMD graphics.
It’s the screen that gets the Series 7 Ultra off to a flying start – the 13.3in Full-HD panel is superb. There isn’t even the tiniest hint of grain introduced by the touch layer, and the silky-feeling, gloss finish makes it a pleasure to flick, pinch and tap your way through Windows 8.
The image quality is deliciously vibrant, too. Photographs and movies flourish with natural skin tones and lifelike, saturated colours; the average Delta E of 3.1 also proves that colour accuracy is well up to par. The IPS panel’s brightness level of 322cd/m[sup]2[/sup] helps it to remain legible in bright conditions, and although the contrast ratio of 786:1 is a little behind the best Ultrabooks – the non-touch, Full-HD panel of Dell’s XPS 13 reached a stunning 1,034:1 – most people will be unlikely to be able to tell the difference. It’s a cracking all-round display.
Even before you dab the Samsung’s power button, it looks every inch the high-end Ultrabook. The brushed metal finish is honed to a silky-smooth sheen, and we love the minimalist, unfussy styling. Burly build quality extends all around, and the Series 7 Ultra feels flex-free and amazingly sturdy no matter how much you twist and press on the chassis. That hefty build adds a few hundred grams to the overall weight, though – at 1.6kg, the Samsung is considerably heavier than stick-thin laptops such as Sony’s 1.05kg VAIO Pro 13.
The Samsung also excels on a practical level. The Scrabble-tile keyboard is backlit, and quality is superb: the solid base and snappy action make up for the slight lack of travel, and we were quickly up to speed thanks to the full-sized, widely spaced keys. The sizeable trackpad is great, too – it feels lovely under the finger, and responds quickly to Windows 8’s variety of gestures.
On the inside, Samsung has included something that few of its Ultrabook rivals can match – a discrete GPU. The chip used here is a Radeon HD 8570M, but it isn’t exactly a high-end part: its architecture is based on last year’s HD 7000-series, and it has only 384 stream processors clocked to a modest 650MHz.
|Price ex VAT||£833|
|Price inc VAT||£1,000|
|Features & Design||6|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||324 x 224 x 22mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3337U|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 8570M|
|Hard disk usable capacity||119GB|
|Hard disk||LiteOn SSD|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||8hr 38min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||60fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.66|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|