Samsung Series 7 Chronos 700Z5A

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Matt, high-rez screen
  • Solid brushed metal chassis
  • Powerful and fairly quiet
  • ExpressCache SSD
  • Cheaper than rivals

Cons

  • No Blu-ray option
  • No eSATA

Key Features

  • Review Price: £946.80
  • Brushed metal unibody-like chassis
  • 15.6in 1600 x 900 matt display
  • Core i5-i7, up to 8GB RAM
  • 8GB SSD with 750GB HDD
  • Radeon HD 6750M 1GB graphics

We’ve been awaiting Samsung’s metallic Series 7 Chronos laptops eagerly since we first previewed them. They’re beautifully designed, relatively slim slabs of aluminium with matt, higher-than-usual resolution screens surrounded by the thinnest of bezels. The frosted glass touchpads and backlit keyboards are classy additions too.

The Samsung Series 7 laptops are also stuffed to the brim with connectivity and performance, with innovations like the SSD/HDD hybrid storage of particular interest. The only thing they’re lacking is any obvious link to their mythological namesake, as they don’t seem to hold any particular affinities with time that we’ve discovered.

Are the Series 7’s worthy rivals to the likes of the Dell XPS 15z and the 15in Apple MacBook Pro, though? In our review, we look at the 15.4in 700Z5A to find out.

Let’s start off with its design. Unlike the black finish of the Samsung Series 9, the company’s Series 7 range sports a subdued grey finish that shows off its aluminium finish’s brushed pattern to better effect. It also makes unsightly fingerprints far less visible, less so than with Apple’s MacBook Air. Aside from the raised Samsung logo the 700Z5A is smooth, with nicely rounded edges on the lid. However, Apple-esque sharp edges rear their pointy heads when you open the laptop up.

The screen bezel is aluminium, where many metal-clad rivals use plastic here. It’s also incredibly thin, a mere 7mm at the sides. That’s even slimmer than the Dell XPS 14z, which squeezed a 14in screen into a “13in chassis”. The 7’s subtly integrated but sturdy hinge is also metal, as is the keyboard surround.

Oddly, the wrist rest is actually plastic, which Samsung claims to have used for the same reasons Dell choose magnesium rather than aluminium on its XPS z: it’s softer and warmer, and keeps the weight down. However, despite looking like the metal it does put a small dent in the otherwise premium feel.

Build quality is very good – if not quite on a level with the XPS 15z or MacBook Pro, as there is just the slightest hint of give and creak when pressing down on some parts of the panels. However, it still feels like it’ll weather some rough handling without injury. Unsurprisingly, the plastic palm rest feels like one of the least sturdy areas, but it’s also one of the least likely to get damaged. Hinge action, meanwhile, is reassuringly solid.

While not the most extensive we’ve seen, connectivity nevertheless covers all the bases and is very innovative. For example, as the Series 7’s slim profile doesn’t allow for a full-size VGA port, Samsung has converted this unsightly port to something that resembles micro HDMI, and provided the adapter in the box. This is an elegant way to get around the issue, and we don’t think anyone would complain about never seeing one of the old-school VGA connectors on a laptop again if they’re offered this as an alternative.

The Gigabit Ethernet port has also seen modification due to slimness. As with the ports on the Series 9, you’ll need to open a flap that partially covers it when not in use – an ingenious solution, though under rare circumstances it could prove a potential snagging, or even breakage, point.

This aside we have a regular HDMI port, twin USB 3.0 ports and a combined headphone/microphone jack on the left, an SDXC card reader at the front and the slot-loading DVD rewriter and USB 2.0 port on the laptop’s right side. Wireless bases are covered with Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0. Overall then there’s everything you would need in a high-end portable PC, though if we’re being picky we would have liked eSATA and separate audio in- and outputs too.

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