We've had an extensive play with Samsung's brand-new Series 7 laptops, and they are – in a word – impressive. From their narrow bezels that allow nearly an extra inch of visible screen compared to similarly-sized rivals, to their higher-than-usual resolution, metal chassis, generous specs and backlit keyboards – not to mention an 8GB micro SSD with concomitant software to speed up hard drive access and app loading – you're getting an awful lot for your money here.
From our initial impressions, the Series 7 are being posited as the MacBook Pros of the Windows PC world, but without the associated high prices you might expect. Though there will be a 13.3in model down the line, the initial launch unit is a 15.6in affair, so let's find out how it holds up.
First of all, there's its note-worthy design. With stunners like the Series 9 under its belt, the Korean company is no stranger to classy design, but the style and build on show here are remarkable considering the cheap entry price.
The Series 7 comes with an all-aluminium brushed metal exterior, that gives a unibody impression and is actually somewhat reminiscent [cough] of certain Apple products. Unlike the Series 9 it's not glossy, thus preventing it being the fingerprint magnet that laptop was. It's classy, premium and high-end, and its tight lines give it a streamlined appearance.
As you might expect, build quality feels great all-round. The only part of the chassis that's conspicuously not metal is the palm-rest, which is faux metal plastic. Samsung claims this decision was made to keep the weight down, and it also ensures your palms never have to rest on a cold surface.
Though it's all kept very discrete, Samsung hasn't skimped on the connectivity either. On the left you get twin USB 3.0 ports, a 'slim' Gigabit Ethernet port (with pull-out flap as is found on many recent ultraportables like the Sony VAIO Z, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combi port and both HDMI and VGA for video. The VGA port is a tiny micro-HDMI-like affair that requires the included adapter, and we're happy with this compromise as it keeps the laptop pretty while causing little inconvenience to users of the dying
On the right you'll find a USB 2 port and slot-loading optical drive, which is a DVD writer rather than Blu-ray – the first and only obvious concession to the Series 7 line's affordability.
When it comes to usability, the chiclet keyboard with its black keys holds up very well. Layout is good, and the keys are nicely shaped and spaced. Key action is firm with adequate travel, and there's not even a hint of flex. Best of all, the entire keyboard is backlit, making it great to use in the dark.
The touchpad, meanwhile, looks and feels almost exactly like Apple's equivalent, which is a good thing. We called it the best touchpad we had used on the Series 9, and that hasn't changed here. The single sheet of frosted glass is lovely to touch, with your finger gliding along smoothly without feeling slippery. The 'buttons' integrated into the touch-sensitive area work well and the pad doesn't interfere with typing.