Hands on with the Samsung Series 7 Ultra

Samsung announced just one new ultrabook at CES 2013 – the Series 7 Ultra. This 13-inch system was the highlight of the PC products shown at the company’s reveal and, having had a look at it, we can see why. The system somehow manages to offer excellent hardware despite its ultra-thin profile.

At first glance the system is difficult to separate from the company’s previous thin-and-light systems. The silver brushed-aluminum aesthetic looks great and is reasonably resistant to fingerprints, but we’ve seen it before – the systems announced at last year’s show weren’t much different. Build quality of the unit we handled was excellent. It was a tightly constructed system with no obvious panel gaps.

We quickly took note of the display. The Ultra offers a 1080p panel with viewing angles of up to 178 degrees and excellent color reproduction. Gloss appears to be the only option, though it’s compensated for by a super-bright 350 nit backlight. We didn’t have a problem discerning the display even under the harsh light of the convention hall.

One feature that’s not visible (yet very important) is discrete graphics. The Series 7 Ultra will be shipping with AMD’s Radeon 8570M as a standard feature. This is a mid-range GPU that should be capable of handling a wide selection of modern games. It doesn’t make the Ultra a gaming powerhouse – the graphics will likely be challenged by the native 1080p panel – but titles like Torchlight II and Call Of Duty should be playable at medium to high detail.

The rest of the laptop falls in line with what consumers have come to expect from an ultrabook. The keyboard is average at best but the touchpad is large and the beautiful display offers optional touch. Battery life is quoted at eight hours, which is quite a lot, but company-provided figures are often generous.

Samsung expects the system to arrive in spring or summer. Given the timing we believe the system we arrive with Intel’s 4th generation processors, which are rumored to ship in May. Pricing has not been announced.