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IT MIGHT SEEM like ultrabooks have overtaken the laptop landscape, what with all the attention they’ve received lately in the press and at CES, but there are still plenty of folks who prefer a more substantial laptop for general-purpose computing. These are the folks Samsung’s Series 7 Chronos is aimed at.
Like its ultrabook brethren, which inevitably draw comparisons to the MacBook Air, the Chronos bears a strong resemblance to an Apple product: the MacBook Pro. The 15.6-inch laptop is just shy of an inch thick; its lid, display bezel, and palm rest are all made of silver brushed aluminum; the island keyboard is backlit; and it features a large, 4.2x3-inch glass touchpad with integrated right and left buttons. The Chronos is not the paragon of industrial engineering that Apple is known for (the edges and bottom of the rig, for example, are made of plastic), but it has an attractive, refined aesthetic and its build quality feels solid.
The Chronos also costs a lot less than a comparably equipped MacBook Pro. The model we reviewed, sporting a 2.2GHz Core i7-2675QM processor, 8GB of DDR3/1333, an AMD Radeon 6750M GPU, and a 750GB 7,200rpm hard drive (plus an 8GB iSSD for fast boot and app loading), is fully $500 cheaper than the closest 15-inch MacBook Pro—and that model is limited to 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400rpm drive, and a 1440x900 display (vs. the Chronos’s 1600x900). It’s a no-brainer if you’re into value.
Samsung packs a quad-core proc, a 7,200rpm HDD, discrete graphics, and an optical drive into the Chronos, which measures less than an inch thick and weighs little more than five pounds.
Clearly, the Chronos has the chops for productivity apps, as evidenced by its parts loadout and benchmark performance. It ran circles around our admittedly aged zero-point gaming laptop in all the content-creation tests. The Chronos is less of a master at games, however, although gaming is not out of the question with the mid-level Radeon 6750M GPU. We achieved 42fps in Call of Duty 4 playing on a 1650x1050 external display with 4x AA. With AMD’s Switchable Graphics, the GPU is enabled only when needed, thus preserving battery life. Indeed, the Chronos lasted almost five hours in our battery rundown test—that’s within the range of the ultrabooks we’ve reviewed. Pretty impressive.
If you have a large DVD collection, you’ll appreciate the Chronos’s slot-load DVD drive. Image quality on the 1600x900 matte screen is generally good, although adjusting the screen forward or back much beyond 45 degrees results in considerable color distortion. The speakers are serviceable, but certainly not a selling point.
Our biggest gripe with the Chronos regards its trackpad. While the surface of it feels very nice to the touch, we found its behavior maddening at times—just moving the cursor would sometimes register as a click, causing windows to open or move, or text to be highlighted. And while typing, the cursor would occasionally find its way to some random point in the document. Sadly, these issues are not uncommon to trackpads, but they have the ability to tarnish the user’s experience. A function key on the Chronos lets you disable the trackpad in favor of a mouse.
All in all, the Series 7 Chronos offers a well-rounded package for mainstream use at a reasonable price.
Feature-rich; capable performer; subtly stylish; great battery life.
Buggy trackpad; poor vertical off-axis on screen.
|Samsung Series 7 Chronos|
|CPU||2.2GHz Core i7-2675QM|
|Drives||750GB Hitachi HDD (7,200rpm), 8GB SanDisk iSSD|
|Optical||Slot-load DVD burner|
|GPU||AMD Radeon 6750M|
|Display||15.6-inch, 1600x900, LED‑ backlit LCD|
|Connectivity||HDMI out, Mini DisplayPort out, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11 a/g/n, headphone, 4-in-one card reader|
|Lap/Carry||5 lbs, 4.6 oz / 6 lbs, 4.6 oz|
|ZERO POINT||Samsung Series 7 Chronos|
|Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)||899.0||660.0|
|Photoshop CS3 (sec)||131.0||88.3|
|ProShow Producer (sec)||876.0||699.0|
|Far Cry 2 (fps)||48.5||23.5 (-51.5%)|
|Call of Duty 4 (fps)||62.2||41.9 (-32.7%)|
|Battery life (min)||96.0||290.0 (+201.1%)|
Our zero point notebook is an Asus G73Jw-A1 with a 1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM, 8GB DDR3/1066, two 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drives, a GeForce GTX 460M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA and 4x anisotropic filtering.