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Samsung Series 7 Ultra review

Verdict

A high-quality touchscreen, stunning chassis and discrete AMD graphics make for a multitalented Ultrabook

Review Date: 26 Jun 2013

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £833 (£1,000 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

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.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

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/m2 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.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

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.

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User comments

Lovely little ultrabook but..

not sure why anyone would spend £1000 on old processor tech. Im the market for something like this, but with Haswell.

By jamesv1001 on 26 Jun 2013

Agreed with jamesv1001. Stick in Haswell and one of Samsung's new fast SSDs (as seen in the 2013 MacBook Air), and this will be a stunner.

By TheHonestTruth on 26 Jun 2013

Needs Haswell..

Agree with JamesV & Mr Truth, no-matter how wonderful the case etc are, it needs a Haswell.

Very soon you'll be telling us about the 'unprecedented' battery-life of the MacBook Air (12 hrs allegedly) with Haswell. You'll also be denigrating 'Windows' laptops for their over-consumption.

FAIL.

By wittgenfrog on 26 Jun 2013

Endorsed

Haswell, Haswell, Haswell!
They chant.

By Alperian on 26 Jun 2013

Very tempted by this but I'm holding back to see what price an Ultrabook with Iris Pro graphics will cost as it seems the perfect part for the form factor.

By neil_coombes on 30 Jun 2013

Very tempted by this but I'm holding back to see what price an Ultrabook with Iris Pro graphics will cost as it seems the perfect part for the form factor.

By neil_coombes on 30 Jun 2013

Great promise but died within 2 months

Bought one of these on the strength of reviews and also on trying it out at John Lewis.
Initially a fantastic experience that lived up to reviews and I was really pleased with it.
BUT sis weeks after I bought it, it just died. Took it in to John Lewis and after a bit of arguing they agreed to exchange for a new one. Only problem was that it is now withdrawn so the only option was a repair if I wanted something with equivalent specs. Samsung have now had it for nearly three weeks and can't tell me when it will be back.
Wish I'd bought a MacBook Air.

By tontoe on 19 Sep 2013

Great promise but died within 2 months

Bought one of these on the strength of reviews and also on trying it out at John Lewis.
Initially a fantastic experience that lived up to reviews and I was really pleased with it.
BUT sis weeks after I bought it, it just died. Took it in to John Lewis and after a bit of arguing they agreed to exchange for a new one. Only problem was that it is now withdrawn so the only option was a repair if I wanted something with equivalent specs. Samsung have now had it for nearly three weeks and can't tell me when it will be back.
Wish I'd bought a MacBook Air.

By tontoe on 9 Oct 2013

Several poor design features

I have been using a Samsung Series & Ultra for a few months now. There are several annoying design features:

1. The LEDs are under the lid, so when the lid is closed you can't see if the computer is on or not, charging or not.

2. When you have touch screen activated and are attached to an external monitor, you put the lid down and the buttons on the keypad touch the screen and the laptop thinks its getting instructions. Duh. Moreover, it was not easy to find out how to disable the touch screen.

3. There is a hole for headphones on the side but not for a mic. What if you want to attach a headphone and mic speaker set?

4. The touch pad does not delineate physically where the area for the click buttons is. When you have a physical delineation, your fingers rapidly get used to getting into the right place for clicking as opposed to moving the cursor. Mine still have not got used to this method. What would it have cost to have a physically distinct band for the clicking function?

5. The touch pad functionality is very different from the one on my previous Toshiba workhorse (eg if you accidentally let your finger linger on the pad it treats it as a click - I don't want that!). But I can't find anywhere how to change that.

6. The transformer unit has three pins going to the plug rather than two, and the format used is fairly unusual - three cylindrical forms. Why make things difficult?

By JamesAtkins on 17 Jan 2014

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