Samsung wowed us with its ultra-thin, surprisingly powerful Series 9 laptop earlier this year, but the £1,000-plus price tag lifted it beyond the grasp of most common folk.
We’ve spent a week with the latest Samsung portable, the Series 7 Chronos (or Samsung Series 7 Chronos 700Z5A-S01, to give it its full catchy monicker), which isn’t quite as portable but certainly packs in the power – as well as a hefty price tag.
Although the rather curious name conjures up images of psychotic androids hell-bent on human extermination, the Chronos is a rather tame-looking beast.
Anyone expecting a super-slender chassis like the Series 9’s will be disappointed. The Chronos is still slender, at just 25mm, but the 2.4kg weight means it’s more of a chore to lug around than ultrabooks such as the Acer Aspire S3 and the Asus Zenbook.
The sleek silver lid is solid at the edges to keep the display from bending, and even the centre is surprisingly firm. Inside, the metallic motif continues. However, the palmrests are less sturdy than the lid, flexing under light pressure. It isn’t a major concern, but a pity considering the otherwise strong build quality.
We have to admit to being a little disappointed by the overall appearance of the Samsung Chronos. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but this laptop isn’t exactly a beauty compared to some of the new ultrabooks, or even the older Series 9.
Still, we were pleased to see the isolation-style ‘chiclet’ keyboard stretching the width of the interior, giving well-sized keys and enough room for a numeric keypad. Typing is a smooth experience, although the keys don’t travel far when hit.
The arrow keys are once again crushed into a single row, but we could find them without looking, thanks to their wide design.
The keyboard is also backlit, and a built-in light sensor ensures the subtle glow only turns on when the atmospheric lighting is poor, thus saving your battery life as well as your eyes.
However, it isn’t all good news. We noticed after typing for a while that the sharp edges of the chassis were cutting into our wrists.
Not hard enough to open up a vein, thankfully, but enough to leave a red mark. It isn’t so bad if you don’t slouch in your chair, but we found ourselves sinking further down as the working day progressed, putting our tender skin at risk.
We were also less than enamored with the Samsung Chronos’ touchpad. It’s spacious enough, taking up a generous chunk of the palmrest, but opts for annoying integrated mouse buttons.
You have to push the bottom corners to simulate left and right mouse button clicks, which quickly frustrates, since the cursor jerks each time. We gave up and started tapping the surface instead, which occasionally doesn’t register but is less annoying.
Specifications and performance
The Samsung Series 7 Chronos’ 15.6-inch display stretches almost to the edge of the lid, with only a slender bezel in place. It isn’t quite as sleek as the Dell XPS 14z‘s display, with its edge-to-edge glass, but the screen does appear larger than it actually is.
A sharp 1600 x 900 WXGA++ resolution keeps images crisp and clean, whether you’re browsing through embarrassing Facebook pictures or enjoying an HD movie. There’s no glossy coating, so you can use the Samsung Series 7 Chronos outside or in brightly-lit interiors without squinting through pesky glare.
Colours are still rich, and the screen is reasonably bright. However, the narrow viewing angles are less impressive.
If you need a machine to keep you entertained on the move, the Chronos’ spacious 750GB hard drive gives you plenty of space for your games, movies and music. A slot-loading DVD drive has also been packed into the slender chassis. If you’d rather use this laptop as a home entertainment machine, an HDMI port can be used to hook up televisions or monitors, and you have three USB ports for attaching peripherals, two of which are zippy USB 3.0 connections.
Samsung has joined a host of other manufacturers in the challenge to create the fastest booting laptop. The Windows desktop pings up just 20 seconds after hitting the power button, while the Samsung Series 7 Chronos also wakes up from hibernation in just two seconds. That gives you plenty more time to browse mucky Scandinavian websites.
Of course you get the usual range of trial software that has to be uninstalled, while Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi can be used to get online.
The Samsung Series 7 Chronos may be light on features, but it doesn’t skimp in the performance department. A mighty Intel Core i7 2675QM processor running at a standard speed of 2.2GHz is in charge, backed up by a generous 8GB of memory. This blasted through our benchmark testing, hammering every task we threw its way.
You can run any software imaginable, and should be able to for some time to come. If you want future-proofing, the Chronos lays it on thick.
Gamers and hardcore editors are also catered for, thanks to the AMD Radeon HD6750M graphics card. While the likes of the Alienware M18x provides twice the graphical power, you can still run some of the latest games on modest graphical settings, and older games run without issue.
Movie fans can enjoy the latest films in HD quality, with no stuttering or other issues. Video editing suites and other multimedia applications also run smoothly.
Despite all this power, we were highly impressed by the Samsung Series 7 Chronos’ excellent battery life. We put our laptops through a tough test, playing HD video on loop with performance settings turned to max, until the battery is drained. Most laptops last a mere three hours before dying, but the Chronos powered through four hours of video before the screen faded to black.
Cinebench 10: 16828
3D Mark ’06: 10049
Battery Eater ’05: 239 mins
The Samsung Series 7 Chronos may not be quite as thin as some of the emerging ultrabooks, or the glorious Series 9 that hit stores earlier this year, but can it stand out from the crowd with killer performance instead?
The latest Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor crushes anything you throw at it, and will do for some time to come. You also have a powerful GPU that can handle the latest games (albeit with some graphical compromises) and multimedia software.
The screen is sharp and vibrant – a great way to enjoy the latest HD movies. The lack of a glossy finish means there are no annoying reflections when working out of doors, while a 750GB hard drive gives you plenty of room for your media. You also have a slot-loading DVD drive.
We were also impressed by the solid build, while the backlit isolation-style keyboard is spacious and well constructed. And although the Samsung Series 7 Chronos isn’t the slimmest or lightest laptop around, its excellent battery life will see you through a full day of office use.
Although we like the keyboard, there are some usability issues. The sharp edge of the palmrest cuts into your wrists at times, and the touchpad opts for annoying integrated mouse buttons, which knock the cursor out of position when pushed.
The Samsung Series 7 Chronos also lacks that certain something to get us excited. It doesn’t have the sexy, curved chassis of the Series 9, or the ridiculously slender build of some of the new ultrabooks.
If you need a portable machine to entertain you on the move, which won’t be out of date any time soon, the Samsung Series 7 Chronos is well worth considering. Just don’t expect great beauty.