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Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey review: Another laptop ruined by a poor display

samsung galaxy book odyssey review
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
MSRP $1,400.00
“The Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey is fast for productivity users and can meet some entry-level gaming needs, but its poor display is a real bummer.”
Pros
  • Solid productivity performance
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Attractive design
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Build quality is slightly subpar
  • Display is a real disappointment
  • Gaming performance is a little underwhelming

Samsung has been expanding its laptop line, pumping out a new entry-level Galaxy Book and an updated version of the Galaxy Book Pro 360. One of the more interesting introductions is the Galaxy Book Odyssey, which Samsung positions as both a productivity and a gaming machine with a nod to creators. That’s a fine line to walk both aesthetically, where the laptop has some flourishes, and in its performance.

Our review unit retails for $1,400 but is currently on sale for $1,210, a more attractive price for the 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11600H and 15.6-inch 16:9 Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display. You can spend another $100 and upgrade from 8GB to 16GB of RAM, but the 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) is the only option, as is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. The Galaxy Book Odyssey wants to play both sides of the fence, and it ends up excelling as neither a productivity laptop nor a gaming machine — and creators will be disappointed with the display.

Design

An angled view of the lid of the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Book Odyssey is all-aluminum, which usually results in a rigid laptop. In this case, the lid was a bit bendable and there was some flexing in the keyboard deck and chassis bottom. I’ve noticed this tendency in some other Samsung laptops, such as the Galaxy Book, demonstrating the same lack of rigidity. It’s not terrible, but certainly, laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 feel far more durable. I was more forgiving of the Galaxy Book that retails for $900 than I am of the Galaxy Book Odyssey with its $1,400 retail price. Even at its on-sale price of $1,210, I expect a more solid feel.

Aesthetically, the Galaxy Book Odyssey is mostly a minimalist design, particularly along the edges where its angles are simple and streamlined. Its “Mystic Black” is an attractive color that deviates from the more common silver, and there’s some molding on the lid with a bold chrome logo that adds some flair. It’s not as cohesively designed as the XPS 15 nor as colorful as some midrange options from Asus and Lenovo, but it’s a laptop you won’t be embarrassed to carry around. As a gaming laptop, it’s subdued.

Speaking of carrying it around, the Galaxy Book Odyssey is pretty average in size for a laptop with a 16:9 15.6-inch display. The bezels are on the smaller size, not as trim as the XPS 15’s, with only the bottom chin being larger than it could be. Even so, there’s not a lot of fat, and it’s around the same width and depth as the Galaxy Book. It’s 0.70 inches thick and weighs 4.08 pounds, making it just as thick but considerably heavier than the Acer Aspire 5, which comes in at 3.64 pounds. The Galaxy Book Odyssey is pretty much in the Goldilocks zone, neither too small nor too large.

Connectivity is generous with just one disappointment. There’s a full-size HDMI connection, a USB-A 3.2 port, and two USB-C 3.2 ports on the left-hand side with two USB-A 3.2 ports, an Ethernet jack, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader on the right-hand side. The disappointment is no Thunderbolt 4 support, which should be expected on a laptop in this price range. The fastest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5 provide wireless duties.

Power is provided via USB-C through a large 135-watt power adapter that exceeds the usual 100-watt USB-C limit.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey showing off the desktop.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Book Odyssey is built around an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11600H, a 45-watt CPU with six cores and 12 threads. That sits in between Intel’s 4-core/8-thread 28-watt U-series CPUs and the 8-core/16-thread 45-watt H-series processors. As such, I expected to see solid productivity performance and, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, perhaps even some creativity performance to go with it.

As it turned out, the Galaxy Book Odyssey performed as I expected in our non-gaming benchmarks. It didn’t impress in Geekbench 5, falling behind the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 71 Pro with a 35-watt 4-core/8-thread Core i7-11370H but ahead of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio with the same CPU. It couldn’t keep up with either the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U or the Core i7-11800H, also as expected. In our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Galaxy Book Odyssey did well, beating out all but the Ryzen 7 and the Core i7-11800H. In Cinebench R23, the Samsung took second place, surprisingly beating the Ryzen 7 that typically performs well in this benchmark. Finally, in the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that’s the best indication of productivity performance, the Galaxy Book Odyssey again came in second place with a strong showing across the Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation portions of the test.

I also ran the laptop through the Pugetbench benchmark that runs in Adobe Premiere Pro, where it scored 318. That’s lower than the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio that also equips the RTX 3050 Ti, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 with its Core i7-11800H and RTX 3060. It’s faster than a laptop like the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a U-series Core i7-1165G7 that scored 241 but not as high as I was hoping. Creators can use the Galaxy Book Pro Odyssey for their work, but it’s going to lag.

Overall, the Galaxy Book Odyssey is a strong productivity performer and good enough for lower-end creativity tasks. You’ll find some other 15-inch laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 to be much faster, but they’re also more expensive.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 Pugetbench
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey (Core i7-11600H) 1478 / 5366 151 1601 / 8571 5989 318
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro (Core i7-11370H) 1578 / 5957 202 1514 / 5544 5149 N/A
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen 7 5700U) 1184 / 6281 120 1287 / 8013 5411 N/A
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7) 1327 / 5201 N/A 1469 / 4945 5147 N/A
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (Core i7-11370H) 1321 / 5131 179 1304 / 5450 5091 417
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (Core i7-11800H) 1520 / 7353 106 1519 / 10497 6251 432
MSI Sumit E13 Flip Evo (Core i7-1185G7) 1352 / 4891 207 1360 / 4392 4872 N/A

Gaming performance

Because Samsung has positioned the Galaxy Book Odyssey as a part-time gaming machine, it’s fair to compare it to its competition. With an RTX 3050 Ti installed, that means low-end gaming laptops and non-gaming laptops that happen to have discrete graphics.

I usually start discussing benchmarks with 3DMark Time Spy, but for some reason, the Galaxy Book Odyssey wouldn’t install 3DMark. It went 60% of the way through the installation routine and then just hung out there until I rebooted. So, strike that test.

Running actual games, the Galaxy Book Odyssey wasn’t our comparison group’s fastest gaming laptop. It didn’t place first in any of our benchmarks, and in fact, it was last or second-to-last in most of them. Its Assassin’s Creed Valhalla score was particularly low at 15 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and ultra-high graphics, losing only to the Asus ROG Flow X13 gaming machine that was also curiously low. In Battlefield V and Civilization VI, the Galaxy Book Odyssey was more competitive but still behind the pack, and it managed to hold its own in Fortnite. Outside of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the laptop was a decent entry-level gaming machine running at 1080p, where you can turn up the graphics in some games and still get playable frame rates.

That’s a decent result given that Samsung wanted this laptop to be both a productivity workhorse — where it performed well — and a part-time gaming machine. I’d say Samsung mostly succeeded.

Laptop Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
(1080p Ultra High)
Battlefield V
(1080p Ultra)
Fortnite
(1080p Epic)
Civilization VI
(1080p Ultra)
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(RTX 3050 Ti)
15 fps 40 fps 54 fps 61 fps
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (RTX 3050 TI) 47 fps (1200p) 51 fps 47 fps 75 fps
Asus ROG Flow X13 (RTX 3050 Ti) 7 fps (1200p 52 fps 57 fps 65 fps
Acer Swift X (RTX 3050 Ti) N/A N/A 43 fps 66 fps
HP Victus 16
(RTX 3060)
59 fps 72 fps 99 fps 118 fps
Razer Blade 14
(RTX 3070)
60 fps 96 fps 96 fps 111 fps

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey's display showing an image of the homescreen.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Whoops, they did it again. For a company that sources excellent displays for so many other manufacturers, Samsung can choose some inferior panels for its own laptops. I noted the poor display in the Galaxy Book, which held that machine back from a higher score. Unfortunately, the more expensive Galaxy Book Odyssey shares a similar display.

Subjectively, the display doesn’t look terrible. For my productivity workflow, such as writing this review, it sufficed. The colors were okay, and the contrast wasn’t so bad that black text was a light grey. But the screen didn’t jump out at me. It’s just Full HD, meaning that it’s not sharp at the 15.6-inch size, and it’s in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio.

Perhaps most importantly, Samsung is aiming this laptop at least in part at creators, and they would hate this display.

My colorimeter agreed with me. While the display was bright enough at 350 nits (300 is our threshold for a display that can overcome most bright lighting conditions), its colors were incredibly narrow for a premium laptop at just 48% of AdobeRGB and 65% of sRGB — we expect to see at least 70% of AdobeRGB and 95% of sRGB from similarly price machines. Those colors also weren’t terribly accurate at a DeltaE of 2.37 (1.0 or less is considered excellent), where premium laptops are usually under 2.0. And its contrast came in at 800:1, lower than the 1,000:1 we like to see that guarantees deeper blacks rather than dark greys. As a comparison, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro costs a bit less than the Galaxy Book Odyssey, and yet its display came in at 369 nits, 80% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, a DeltaE of 1.65, and a contrast ratio of 1,340:1.

A close-up image of the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey's display and keyboard.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

It’s not that this is a terrible display for simple productivity work, but if you want to use it for viewing photos and video, then you’ll be disappointed with the colors. And text didn’t pop on white backgrounds, making the display less than ideal for writers and anyone who works with a lot of numbers. Perhaps most important, Samsung is aiming this laptop at least in part at creators, and they would hate this display. Overall, this was my biggest disappointment in the laptop, and quite frankly, I don’t understand why Samsung would choose an inferior panel for its own laptop.

The audio is provided by two downward-firing speakers toward the front of the laptop, and they provided clean sound with pleasant highs and mids and just the slightest touch of bass. The only problem: The volume was incredibly low. I turned the speakers all the way up and thought I still had 50% to go. If you’re in a quiet room watching Netflix, you’ll be fine. But keep a pair of headphones handy.

Keyboard and touchpad

A close-up image of the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey's keyboard and trackpad
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The keyboard has plenty of spacing and even manages to squeeze in a usable numeric keypad. The keycaps are large enough and very slightly sculpted to make them a touch more comfortable. The switch mechanisms are also good, being a bit shallow but redeeming themselves with a comfortable bottoming action with a bit of snap. It’s a precise enough keyboard that’s a step behind the best, such as on the HP Spectre line and Apple’s excellent MacBook keyboards, but it will keep fast touch typists working productively.

The touchpad is large and takes up most of the space on the palm rest. It has some tactile feedback that helps with swiping, and as a Microsoft Precision touchpad (pretty much the norm today), it supports all the Windows 11 multitouch gestures reliably and precisely. The display, unfortunately, is not touch-enabled, something I always miss and indeed, at this point, is a deal-breaker for me, personally.

Windows 10 Hello password-less login support is provided by a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button. It was fast and accurate.

Battery life

The Galaxy Book Odyssey enjoys 83 watt-hours of battery capacity, a nice number for a machine with a Full HD 15.6-inch display. I was hopeful that the laptop would live up to its productivity performance with all-day battery life.

I wasn’t disappointed. The laptop hit 10.5 hours on our web browsing test that cycles through a series of popular and complex websites, a solid score that’s much better than the Galaxy Book’s 8.3 hours and the Dell XPS 15 OLED’s nine hours. The Galaxy Book Odyssey went for 14.25 hours in our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer, another solid score that again beat out the Galaxy Book and XPS 15 OLED at just over 11 hours. I also tested using the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, the best indication of productivity battery life, where the Galaxy Book Odyssey again did well at 11.75 hours compared to the Galaxy Book at just under 11 hours and the XPS 15 OLED at eight hours. And finally, in the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test that shows how hard a laptop works while unplugged, the Galaxy Book Odyssey hit 93 minutes, which is close to average and indicates you’re not giving up much performance when running on battery power.

Overall, these are strong results that indicate the Galaxy Book Odyssey will get you through a full day’s work with some time left over for some evening productivity or media binging. Samsung did a respectable job of creating a laptop that fits the needs of productivity workers.

Our take

I wanted to give the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey a higher score. It provides solid productivity performance with the ability to handle some creative duties as well, and while its gaming performance was a little underwhelming, it can still handle 1080p games with decent graphical detail. It has great battery life, sports a good keyboard, and has an excellent touchpad, and its build quality is just a little subpar.

Unfortunately, the display is a huge disappointment. You just can’t provide such narrow colors and low contrast on a laptop in this price range, especially one that’s at least in part aimed at creators. With a better display, I could have easily recommended this laptop, but as it is, I have to give it a pass.

Are there any alternatives?

You can get a Dell XPS 15 for around the same retail price if you drop down in the specs a bit, and it’s probably worth considering for the XPS 15’s excellent build quality and cohesive design. Or, spend a little more and get equivalent performance with a much better display.

The HP Envy 15 is a solid competitor to the Galaxy Book Odyssey. It costs less and offers better performance with a much better display.

How long will it last?

The Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey has some bending and flexing in the lid and chassis, but it’s not egregious. It should last for several years of typical use, and its components are up-to-date and should handle Windows 11’s needs for years as well. The one-year warranty is disappointing, as always.

Should you buy it?

No. The Galaxy Book Odyssey is competitive in several important ways, but you can get much better displays for the same money — and that matters a lot.

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