Premium notebooks have a new challenger, the Samsung Series 7 Chronos, but just how premium is it exactly?
Samsung's new Series 7 Chronos is a good-looking product, but we’re not entirely convinced it’s best in class. There are two variants, and we had a look at the less expensive NP700Z5A-SO4AU, which retails for $1,499.
The Chronos got off to a good start because the screen backing, thin bezel and keyboard surrounds were all dark grey aluminium that looked and felt superb. However, the palm rests, hinge covers, sides and underside are plastic. It felt sturdy enough, but given the premium pricing we’d really have hoped for that sweet, sweet metal. The slender design and thin bezel means the Chronos weighs only 2.3kg, a great feat given 15.6in screen notebooks normally weigh 2.5kg or more.
The 15.6in screen’s brightness was terrific; even on power saver it was easy to clearly see everything. It also had rich colours along with a high 1,600 x 900 pixel resolution. The viewing angles were about typical, particularly along the horizontal axis. A light sensor near the hinge adjusts screen brightness and keyboard backlighting depending on ambient light, a subtle but useful feature.
A black backlit chiclet keyboard is reminiscent of the Apple MacBook Pro 15in, and it’s a joy to type on. The keys are fairly quiet, have a nice solid spring to them and a low travel. The large touchpad is pleasant to use, optimally sensitive and has functional multi-touch gestures. It’s not perfect though; because it’s off to the left, when typing you’ll often tap it by accident. The high sensitivity also takes some adjustment.
The integrated webcam was pretty good, and so too were the speakers. They played a wide variety of music clearly, and the volume was loud enough to fill a small apartment, although some bass-heavy music sounded a bit flat.
One surprise in the Chronos is the well above average AMD Radeon HD 6750M dedicated graphics card. The 2nd Gen Intel Core i5-2430M (2.4GHz) processor is comparably good, and there’s 4GB of RAM. Also of note is the quicker than average 750GB (7,200rpm) hard disk drive that’s backed up by a 8GB solid state drive used to cache programs and helped the Chronos boot up in about 25 seconds. These all lead to a PCMark Vantage score of 7,380 when set to high-performance mode.
The battery life was good at five hours 11 minutes with light use on Samsung Eco Mode, but that’s still well short of the claimed nine hours 24 minutes. It also got rather warm on the underside during this time.
Is the Chronos a truly premium notebook? On the one hand it has a great screen, low weight and an admirable set of hardware. On the other hand, the touchpad positioning and considerable use of plastic take a lot of the shine off. There’s stiff competition in the premium notebook market segment and while the Chronos makes a valiant effort, it’s just not quite there yet.Available from Samsung, retailing for $1,499
.APC rating: 7/10