Getting to the Samsung Series 7 700Z's 15.6in screen, it doesn't quite manage to emulate the superb viewing angles or ridiculously high brightness of the Series 9 13.3in effort, but in every other regard it's top of the TN class. To begin with, there's its 1,600 x 900 resolution, which is higher than most rivals' 1,366 x 768 (though some high-end 15in laptops tend to cram in Full HD panels). In our brief hands-on time we didn't spot any backlighting issues or artefacts, and we found it to be reasonably responsive.
Best of all as far as panel quality goes, black levels were excellent, with deep blacks along relatively pure whites and good dark detailing. The icing on the cake is that Samsung has a new policy of making all its laptop screens matt, a decision we can't help but applaud heartily. Likewise on the incredibly narrow bezel (by laptop standards), which lends the Series 7 a more compact profile compared to rivals with similar screen sizes.
Specifications-wise, the £799 base model comes with a Core i5-2430M backed by 6GB or RAM, a 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive and Intel's integrated graphics. If you do want a little more graphics grunt, the £899 and £999 configs come with dedicated AMD Radeon cards while upping the RAM to 8GB and, in the case of the flagship model, a quad-core Core i7-2675QM. That's some serious power.
If you're disappointed by the lack of SSD, there's some consolation in Samsung's use of Express Cache. This is a mixture of fine-tuned software and an 8GB SSD that's built into the motherboard, in a pre-caching setup that's similar to that used on Seagate's hybrid drive – except here the SSD memory isn't built into the drive, so you can upgrade to a larger model yourself without losing the extra speed. Brilliant!
As a result of Express Cache, boot-up times are significantly reduced and frequently-used apps will run faster. Though our startup test on the early preview sample we saw took just under 30 seconds (compared to an estimated boot time of 35 seconds with a regular hard drive), Samsung are hoping to get this down to under 20 seconds by launch.
Last but not least, with eight-cell batteries across the models, battery life should hold up well too. To be quite frank, we're very excited about the potential of this machine and indeed the Series 7 family overall, especially since they don't demand a huge premium. They have all the elements in place to hold their own against established rivals like the Dell XPS 15z and then some, and we can't wait to get one in for a comprehensive review.