New Ultrabook from Samsung Ultra Series 7 -

17 Apr 2013

New Ultrabook from Samsung Ultra Series 7

Samsung's latest Ultrabook is the Series 7 Ultra (730U3E) and here's our hands-on review from CES 2013.
The Series 7 Ultra is the smaller bother of the Series 7 Chronos and has a Full HD 13.3in screen and Windows 8. It has the typical look of a Samsung Ultrabook laptop with a nice looking aluminium body. The touchscreen model we looked at measures in at 18.9mm and 1.65kg.
Samsung's Series 7 Ultra has a decent size silver keyboard which blends nicely into the metal body and is backlit. We like the super responsive large trackpad although we're not so keen on the integrated mouse buttons Ultrabook Terbaru .
It's the Ultrabook's display which is the main attraction here since it has a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. A more than welcome change from the usual 1366 x 768 which almost every laptop has. Squeezing a Full HD resolution onto a 13in screen results in a very detailed picture. Colours look rich a vibrant and viewing angles are great. The only downside is the glossy finish but it’s not as reflective as most.
New Ultrabook from Samsung Ultra Series 7
The touchscreen stretches right to the edge of the laptop so the bezel is touch sensitive for Windows 8 gestures. The Series 7 Ultra supports 10-point multi-touch and we were pleased with its responsiveness.
Samsung Series 7 Ultra Full HD touchscreen
The sample we took a look at was sporting an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3517U processor and 10GB of RAM. There will also be a model with a Core i5. Storage comes in the form of an SSD up to 256GB in capacity.
We weren't able to run any benchmarks at the show, of course, but from a user perspective performance was very slick. Helping out on the performance front and driving the Full HD resolution is an AMD HD8570M graphics card with 1GB of RAM.
Samsung Series 7 Ultra ports
Ports include one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, mini VGA, HDMI, ethernet, SD card slot headphone and microphone which is well rounded offering for a 13in Ultrabook. There’s also a 720p webcam for video calling. Samsung said the Series 7 Ultra will also be available with 4G LTE connectivity but we don’t know if this will be an option in the UK yet.
Since we saw the Series 7 Ultra at CES, we haven't had a chance to battery test it. Samsung says that the Ultrabook will last for up to eight hours. We'll have to wait and find out if this is true. Pricing and availability for the Series 7 Ultra is unknown at the moment.

Just 5 years ago Samsung notebook computers were hard to find in US stores. The company had previously abandoned our cutthroat shores, while gracing Europe and Asia with their wares. That's clearly changed, and Samsung laptops are readily available in US online stores like Amazon and in bricks and mortar stores like Best Buy. The Samsung Series 7 is one of my favorite across Samsung's laptop and Windows tablet line: it offers higher end amenities with a lower price tag than the spendy Series 9 models. You still get a well made product with a metal casing and good looks, it's just not as excruciatingly sculpted or light as the Series 9. In trade, you get some very useful features that in my book count for more than best of breed looks: a touch screen, readily upgradable internals and more ports.
Samsung Series 7 Ultra
What you Get
The Samsung Series 7 Ultra isn't an everyman laptop at a budget price, rather it's a part of Samsung's premium collection. At $999 for the model with an Intel Core i5 CPU and Intel HD 4000 graphics, it's by no means cheap, but you do get that classy aluminum chassis, a full 1080p HD touch screen, lots of ports by Ultrabook standards and upgradable RAM and SSD parts. Sweet. And to be fair, $1,000 is the going rate for name brand Ultrabooks with an Intel Core i5, touch models still command even more of a premium. The Samsung Series 7 Ultra weighs 3 lbs. 9 ounces, and that's fine by 13.3" Ultrabook standards but heavy compared to the 2.5 lb. Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook and the 2.9 lb. Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (non-touch). The touchscreen adds about 200 grams of weight as do the upgradable internals, and the added ports take their toll. But we do love those ports: gigabit Ethernet (no dongle required, that's a rare treat on Ultrabooks), 3 USB ports, a full size HDMI port, 3.5mm combo audio and a full size SD card slot. The Series 7 Ultra is just a few ounces heavier than the Zenbook UX31A Touch, and weighs about the same as the Dell XPS 12.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra 1
In this review we look at the NP740U3E-A01UB model that's available at Best Buy. It runs on the updated 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U ULV CPU with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. It has a glossy 1920 x 1080 touch screen with wide IPS viewing angles that's powered by Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Versions with dedicated AMD Radeon HD 8550M and HD 8570M graphics are available overseas, but we're not sure if and when those models will hit US shores. The HD 8570 would be interesting but the 8550 doesn't offer enough of a performance boost over Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics to entice me. The laptop has dual band Intel WiFi 802.11b/g/n 6235N with WiDi wireless graphics, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 720p webcam.
Design and Ergonomics
This is a very good looking Ultrabook with clean lines and an understated and fingerprint resistant aluminum casing top and bottom. Folks in our office said "nice looking notebook!" when they first laid eyes upon it. It looks classy and not too flashy, though it lacks the Samsung Series 9's chiseled profile or the Asus Zenbook Prime's tapered, swirled and razor-edged wow factor. In trade you get a more affordable price, particularly compared to the Series 9 full HD model, and an easily removed bottom panel that grants access to internals and those added ports.
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 2
On the left side you'll find the charging port. At first, the charger doesn't seem to go all the way into the port, so it wiggles and falls out of contact easily, and it also leaves the metal barrel partially exposed. But jam that charger's plug with more force than normal and it does go in all the way. Why the weird design, Samsung? I worried that I might be break the charging port when using that much force, but that's how it's designed.
Also on the left you'll find a drop-down gigabit Ethernet port (a glorious luxury for the business traveler), USB 3.0 port, full size HDMI port, combo audio jack and mini-VGA port (adapter to full size VGA sold separately). Two USB 2.0 ports and a Kensington lock slot are on the right side. We do wonder why Samsung went with only one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, but if you're plugging in mice and keyboards, USB 2.0 is perfectly appropriate since newer, higher end external hard drives/flash drives are the only significant USB 3.0 peripherals on the market appropriate to an Ultrabook.
Ten Phillips head screws affix the aluminum bottom plate to the laptops underside, and once you remove those you have access to two RAM slots, the standard mSATA SSD connector and the wireless card. By Ultrabook standards, that's heaven. The Samsung Series 7 Ultra has no flex and feels solid: good stuff. The aluminum bottom plate has a tenacious plastic strip inside along the back edge that makes it a little harder to pop off the rear edge of the back panel (use a plastic card or credit card to release the plastic tabs).
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 3

Full HD Touch Screen

This is a superb display. The laptop uses the same CMN1343 IPS panel as the Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD and UX31A (non-touch) models. Black levels are excellent, contrast is very good and it nearly covers the Adobe sRGB color gamut. It is a gloss display, typical of touch panels, and that means glare. Lots of bright ambient light can reduce perceived contrast and it's a bit more reflective than the competing Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch Ultrabook. In fact, in our comparison video, you'll note that the Samsung seems to have less contrast, but that's a result of glare captured by the camera. In person, it has equally good contrast and blacks.
Color balance out of the box is good with a slight cool (blue) bias that's typical of PC displays. Calibration can bring it to a neutral color calibration. At 350 nits brightness, this is a bright panel that competes well with the 350 nit Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch model, and we found it more than adequate for use in bright settings. Indoors under home lighting, we rarely wanted to raise brightness above 50%. The ambient light sensor settings are a horror. The Series 7 twitches when a cloud passes by the nearest window and it sets the display to a dismally dim level for most indoor scenarios. Do yourself a favor and disable it ASAP: first turn off auto-brightness in Windows 8 general settings in the Charms menu. Then tap on the battery icon in the taskbar to bring up power plan settings. Go to advanced power plan settings and turn off adaptive brightness under display settings. Alternatively, you can disable the ambient light sensor in the UEFI BIOS (hit F2 when the computer boots to enter BIOS). Why Samsung went with these twitchy and dim settings, I can't imagine, but they've been doing it for a few years now on their Windows tablets and Ultrabooks.
Performance and Horsepower
Currently in the US there's just one Samsung Series 7 Ultra model and it has Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics with no dedicated graphics and a touch screen (overseas models are available with and without the touch screen and have low-mid range dedicated graphics suitable for light gaming and video editing). It ships with the 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U ULV CPU, which is a minor refresh of the third generation Ivy Bridge 1.7GHz CPU common on Ultrabooks for the past several months. It has a Samsung PM841 128 gig SSD drive, which is the mSATA counterpart to the excellent SATA Samsung PM 840 SSD drive that's available aftermarket Iconia PC Tablet dengan Windows 8 .
The laptop has 4 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz 1.35v RAM, and that's a single 4 gig SODIMM, leaving a second slot open for future upgrades up to 16 gigs total. Note: overseas models with dedicated graphics may have only one RAM slot. Performance benchmarks on PCMark 7 were a little lower than expected out of the box, but once we upgraded to 8 gigs of RAM (two 4 gig DIMMs) in a dual channel configuration, the score jumped a few hundred points and matched our expectations. Dual channel improves integrated graphics performance, and requires only that you have matching RAM in each slot (same capacity, speed and latency). Most Ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch have their memory soldered to the motherboard, but it's often done (as with the Asus) in a dual channel configuration, so you get that speed boost out of the box-- that's a good thing since you can't upgrade the Zenbook Prime's RAM later.
Like all current Ultrabooks, the Series 7 Ultra is more than capable of MS Office work, photo editing with Photoshop, light to moderate video editing, gaming with older titles and 3D gaming with more forgiving titles like Civ V and Left4Dead 2. In fact, you can play Skyrim at 1366 x 768 resolution and low settings at 30 fps.
The laptop's fan is nearly silent when doing productivity work, and is clearly audible when playing Civ 5 or BioShock Infinite for 30 minutes, but it doesn't roar like my HP Envy 15 gaming and multimedia machine. Don't get too excited about BioShock Infinitie, the game only runs at 27-30 fps at the lowest quality setting and resolution set to 1366 x 768 on our Intel HD 4000 graphics. The keyboard deck does not get hot and the undersides, despite being conductive aluminum, stay in the comfort range, even when gaming (just don't block the long row of vents on the bottom when gaming!).

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