Samsung Series 7 Ultra review
Samsung's Series 7 Ultra laptop was no secret in the run up to CES - the company announced it a full week before the show began. We knew we'd have to go and take a look when we heard its specification - a Full HD touch display and dedicated graphics in a 17mm thick chassis would make it a seriously well equipped Ultrabook. Now the show is in full swing, we stopped by Samsung's stand to see if it would be quite so impressive in the flesh.
Built completely from aluminium, with a brushed finish on the wrist rest and on the lid, the Series 7 Ultra looks gorgeous. It's in keeping with the rest of Samsung's laptop range, and although we prefer the darker anodized finish on the Series 9, it's easily one of the best looking Ultrabooks around. It's deceptively heavy for a 13in laptop at 1.65kg, although it's still significantly lighter than the average machine with dedicated graphics.
It's the AMD Radeon HD 8570M that sets the Series 7 Ultra apart from the competition. Few Ultrabooks have dedicated graphics, let alone ones that are capable of playing games at decent levels of detail and resolution. Paired with a Core i5 or i7 processor, ample amounts of RAM (the fully-specced demo unit had 10GB) and an SSD for rapid boot and loading times, it should cope well with all your desktop applications, as well as HD video and games.
It's also well equipped for connectivity, with both HDMI and mini DisplayPort video outputs, Ethernet, a multi-format card reader, one USB3 port and two regular USB ports, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Whatever you do on a Series 7 Ultra, it should look fantastic thanks to the 13in, Full HD display. With a claimed brightness of 300nit you should always be able to see what's on screen, even in bright sunlight. We were impressed with colour reproduction, contrast and viewing angles on the show floor, and can't wait to put it through its paces in our lab.
Samsung thinks sound quality will match the fantastic picture; although it was tough to hear clearly over the sounds from the show floor, the JBL-branded speakers could still make themselves heard. We'll wait until we spend some time with a retail model before making any judgments though.
The Chiclet-style keyboard didn't feel significantly different to the ones we've tried before on Series 9 Ultrabooks, which is certainly not a bad thing - here they are backlit and were comfortable to type on, with plenty of bounce and sensible spacing.
Samsung has gone with an all-in-one touchpad, and although we prefer physical buttons we can forgive the decision as it works rather well. You can also choose to ignore it altogether and use the 10-point capacitive touchscreen instead - it's responsive within Windows and doesn't add to the bulk of the laptop.
Based on what we've seen, Samsung has balanced performance with portability with the Series 7 Ultra. We have lots of unanswered questions about performance and battery life, but it's easily one of the most desirable laptops here at CES.
Unfortunately Samsung didn't have any details in terms of pricing or availability at the show - either for the UK or anywhere else world wide. We do know it should start shipping in the Summer, so will hopefully have some more details a little closer to the launch.
For all the latest news from the CES show, read CES 2013: In-depth, hands-on coverage from our team in Las Vegas