Thanks to its entirely matte casing, the Samsung Series 7 Chronos hardly picks up any fingerprints or greasy marks. Plus, the hood is finished with a sleek aluminium plate. This also helps support the screen—after all, the bezel is super-slim in this notebook. Overall, the design is nice and product finish is good.
Samsung has done a great job with the keyboard. It has backlit chiclet keys and a numeric keypad. What's more, Samsung has had the great idea of using the whole width of the chassis so all of the keys are a decent size, which isn't always the case with 15.6-inch laptops. Typing is supple and instinctive.
Samsung has made a good use of space with the touchpad too, as it's almost as wide as the wrist-rest itself. The touchpad is pleasant to use, giving smooth glide and accurate control. Like most touchpads these days, it supports multitouch gestures like two-fingered horizontal and vertical scrolling and zoom in/out.
And for once, the webcam (720p) actually does a decent job too. Dark parts of the picture aren't flooded to black and there's plenty of sharp detail. The only minor blip is that movement isn't rendered brilliantly, but it's still excellent compared with the built-in webcams we usually see in laptops.
The choice of connections is nothing special, but it should cover most bases for day-to-day computing. Spread over the left and right edges of the laptop, you'll find three USB ports (2 x 3.0 and 1 x 2.0), a slot-in DVD player/rewriter drive, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, a headphones and mic combo port, and a rather unusual output port for connecting a VGA adapter (see below). Finally, there's an SD memory card slot on the front of the laptop.
The Series 7 Chronos is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to managing heat and noise. On the one hand, the temperature stays reasonably low given the components used in this PC and, above all, air is is effectively blown out between the chassis and the screen rather than on to your legs, as is all too often the way. You can therefore use the Series 7 Chronos comfortably on your knees without having to worry about it toasting your legs. On the other hand, the fan is always in action to some extent, and you'll be able to hear it in a very quiet room.
This laptop uses the Intel Core i7-2675QM (performance index 145) processor, which gives very similar performances to the i7-2670QM used in the HP Envy 17-3002ef. Samsung's Series 7 Chronos is therefore ready for anything, from basic office computing to more power-intensive tasks like 3D modelling. Processing times are very fast.
While there's a 750 GB (7200 rpm) hard drive on hand for storage, this laptop also has 8 GB of flash memory built directly onto the motherboard. This is used to optimise performances by tuning in to user habits and automatically storing the most frequently used files on the flash memory (which can't be accessed directly by users). Your favourite files will therefore open up more quickly than those stored on the regular hard drive. The flash memory also cuts the boot time. The first boot (with restored factory settings) only took a little over 40 seconds, which dropped to 30 seconds for the second boot.
Thanks to the AMD Radeon HD 6750M mid-range graphics card, the Chronos can handle most games in the screen's native resolution (1600 x 900 pixels) with graphics detail set to medium or high. However, you'll have to make a few concessions in games like Crysis 2, Metro 2033 and Deus Ex Human Revolution, which might prove too intense for native resolution.
Watching movies is a walk in the park for this laptop, whether it's the graphics card or the Intel integrated graphics chipset (HD 3000) doing the job.
Although we would have preferred to see separate mic and headphones sockets, the combo port (which can be used with a hands-free kit) works perfectly well. Power levels are decent and there's no unwanted noise or interference.
The speakers are less impressive. There's practically no bass and you shouldn't push the volume up past three quarters of the maximum setting or the speakers start to saturate.
MOBILITY / BATTERY LIFE
The Samsung Series 7 Chronos weighs a reasonable 2.4 kg and measures 23.85 x 36.21 x 2.4 cm, which means it can be easily slipped into a rucksack. Add to that a matte screen and a battery life of 4 hrs 15 mins (video playback, headphones plugged in, screen at 100 cd/m², Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting off) and this 15.6-inch laptop looks like a good travel companion. Note that AMD uses technology similar to Nvidia's Optimus to boost battery life by only powering the graphics card when necessary.