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Samsung Series 7 Chronos review: expertly combines performance and features

The original Series 7 Chronos that we reviewed last year was very much a high-end laptop [see page 2], costing around £900 with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, discrete AMD Radeon GPU and impressive eight-hour battery life. This latest addition to the range is a more modest affair, stepping down to an Intel Core i5 processor. Samsung lists it at £799 although we’ve seen it available at a more affordable £599.95 at John Lewis, for example. See Group test: what's the best laptop for under £1000?

The basic design remains unchanged, though, with a 15.6in display housed in a sturdy case with a very smart, brushed-metal finish. It’s fairly heavy, weighing in at about 2.4kg, and it measures 24mm thick, which isn’t too bad for a 15.6in model that also includes a built-in DVD drive. See all mid-range laptop reviews.

It also retains the decent battery life that is the watchword of the Chronos range. We got a full seven hours of streaming video over Wi-Fi. You might even stretch that to eight hours for intermittent web browsing or running office tasks.

It’s a nice machine to work on, with a well-designed keyboard and trackpad. The keys sit quite proud of the main keyboard panel, with a smooth action, and there’s a spacious trackpad as well (105 x 75mm), so the Chronos will be comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Samsung pays attention to detail, with a slot-loading DVD drive, colour-coded function keys, and the built-in microphone placed closer to the user on the front edge of the keyboard.

It’s odd that Samsung has opted for a micro-VGA port that requires the purchase of a separate adaptor, but there’s the much more useful HDMI port as well, along with gigabit ethernet for network connectivity.

The screen is something of a mixed bag though. It’s not touch-sensitive, so if you’re sold on the Metro interface of Windows 8 you might want to look elsewhere.

We don’t consider that the great loss, and we were more interested to see that the screen of the Chronos has a welcome matt finish to reduce the glare and reflection that afflicts the majority of modern laptops.

The screen’s limited angle of viewing leaves something to be desired, and brightness fades rapidly as you move to the side. A screen this size could also benefit from full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080), although 1600 x 900-pixels is acceptable at this price, trumping the budget-bin 15-inchers that come with 1366 x 768-pixel panels.

Performance of this 2.5GHz Core 5 model is somewhat down on its Core i7 counterpart. It’s more than adequate for handling basic tasks such as running office software, and with 8GB of memory and 1TB hard drive it can handle the photo- or video-editing too.

We were concerned about the hard drive, huge at 1000GB; potentially slow at 5400rpm. But this is backed up by an 8GB solid-state module. It helped with boot times, taking 25 seconds to reach the Windows 8 Start screen and launch Internet Explorer. And in the lab it helped the Chronos edge just past the 3000-point mark in PCMark 7.

You can probably forget about gaming, though. Relying on the integrated HD 4000 for graphics means that the Chronos can’t run Batman: Arkham City at 1600 x 900 very well at all. We could only nudge it up to a playable 27fps by dropping to 1280 x 720 resolution and turning all the graphics options right down to their lowest possible settings.

View the original article here


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