Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Review

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The Pros

Beautiful design; Solid performance

The Cons

Shallow keyboard; Low-res camera; Short battery life

Verdict

The Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is the most attractive 2-in-1 out there, but its short battery life and shallow keyboard hold it back from greatness.

At first glance, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is the most beautiful convertible 2-in-1 on the market. When you really take a good look (and go hands-on), that facade starts to crack. The $1,199 ($999 to start) laptop’s shallow keyboard, poor-quality webcam and lackluster battery take away from that initial glow. But if you care about style, the Notebook 7 Spin has it in spades, and the performance from its Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card may be enough for you to overlook its shortcomings

Design

The Notebook 7 Spin is the most beautiful 2-in-1 Ive laid my eyes on to date. The silver aluminum chassis is built solidly and the rounded edges are inviting and attractive. Opening the reflective plastic lid reveals the 15.6-inch, 1080p touch screen and a full island-style keyboard with number pad. Unlike the smaller Samsung Notebook 9 Spin, which has two hinges, the Notebook 7 flips around a single hinge with the computers name on it. The whole package looks quite a bit like a MacBook but Apple doesnt make a 2-in-1.

At 5 pounds and 14 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches, the Notebook 7 is heavier than the rest of the field, but a little smaller than most of its competitors. Lenovos business 2-in-1, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, is both thinner and lighter (2.8 pounds, 13.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches). But among consumer models, the HP Spectre x360 15t (4.2 pounds, 14.8 x 9.8 x 0.6 inches) and Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (4.6 pounds, 14.9 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches) have larger footprints.

The 360-hinge allows for the Notebook 7 to be placed into four different modes: a laptop, a tablet (by folding the screen all the way around), a tent (placed as an upside down “V”) and a stand (by placing the keyboard facedown and the monitor standing straight up). 

Ports

The sides of the Notebook 7 Spin feature all of the ports you need for work and play. The left is home to the power jack, an Ethernet jack, HDMI output, USB 3.0 and Type-C ports and audio output. The right is where youll find two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot and space for a security lock.

Display

The display on the Notebook 7 Spins 15.6-inch, 1080p display is extremely sharp but not as vivid as its competitors. When I watched the trailer for Assassins Creed, it was easy to see specks of fire during an attack and grime on the assassins faces. Some charging soldiers red, flowing capes appeared far too dark, and the screen had a bit of a blue tint overall.

The screen covers 72.2 percent of the color gamut, less than the mainstream notebook average of 88 percent. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 was worse at 62 percent, but the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (102 percent) and the Spectre x360 (119 percent) were far more vivid.

In our color-accuracy testing, the Notebook 7’s screen had a Delta-E score of 1.8 (zero is best), far below the average of 4.2. The Spectre x360 (4.1) was just below the average, but the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1.0) and the Inspiron 15 (0.9) were both more precise.

The Notebook 7 Spins display has an average brightness of 260 nits, which also happens to be the mainstream average. The Spectre x360 (246 nits) and the Inspiron 15 (244 nits) were dimmer, but the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (279 nits) was a bit more luminous.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Notebook 7 is too shallow for my liking with just 1.36 millimeters of travel, and the 56 grams of force required to press the keys down made me bottom out frequently. When I took the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 105 words per minute, which is about average for me, with my standard 2 percent error rate. I didnt get to those speeds easily; it hurt when I was done typing.

The 4.2 x 3-inch touchpad is nice and responsive. The smooth glass felt comfortable under my fingers and I had no problem navigating, scrolling, zooming or performing any of Windows 10s gestures.

Audio

The speakers on the Notebook 7 dont get as loud as I’d like. When I listened to the Eagles “Hotel California,” the speakers just filled our medium-size conference room. The drums and cymbals came through the speakers clearly, as did the songs iconic guitar and bass. The vocals, however, were shallow and didnt stand out on the track. 

Performance

The Notebook 7 we reviewed came with a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU with 2GB of VRAM, a 1TB, 5,400 rpm HDD and a 128GB SSD. That was more than enough for heavy multitasking; I had 15 tabs open in Google Chrome, one of which was streaming 1080p video from YouTube, with no lag at all.

On the Geekbench synthetic benchmark, which measures overall performance, the Notebook 7 notched a score of 7,132, just under the mainstream laptop average of 7,521. Still, it outperformed its competition, including the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (7,064), the Inspiron 15 (6,499) and the Spectre x360 (6,376).

The Notebook 7 copied 4.97GB of mixed-media files, including photos, music and videos, in 1 minute and 5 seconds, a speed of 77.5 megabytes per second, which is sluggish compared with the mainstream average of 181.1MBps, as well as the Inspiron 15 (122.6MBps), the Spectre x360 (149.7MBps) and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (a blazing 186.2MBps).

On our spreadsheet macro test, the Notebook 7 matched 20,000 names and addresses in 1 minute a 5 seconds. While thats quicker than the 1:29 category average, the Spectre x360 (0:34), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (0:35) and the Inspiron 15 (0:41) were far faster.

The Notebook 7 earned a score of 88,956 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark. Thats not high enough for the most intense games like Metro: Last Light, but you should be fine playing lighter titles like World of Warcraft, and the extra power should be useful for creatives using programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. That score beats the category average of 73,353, and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (70,475), the Spectre x360 (64,632) and the Inspiron 15 (64,067), all of which use Intel’s integrated 520 graphics.

Webcam

If you video chat on Skype with any regularity, youll want to buy an external webcam alongside the Notebook 7. A selfie I took with the 480p camera was grainy and dark. My face was pixelated, my hair looked like an amorphous blob sitting atop my head and our office appeared as if it were cast in shadow.

Battery Life

Keep a charger nearby, because youre going to need it. The Notebook 7 lasted just 5 hours and 53 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuously browsing the web over Wi-Fi. The average for a mainstream notebook is 6:31, a time exceeded by the Inspiron 15 (6:55), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (7:52) and the Spectre x360 (8:27). 

Heat

The bottom of the Notebook 7 got a little toasty after we streamed 15 minutes of HD video from Hulu. It reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit, which is beyond our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. The touchpad (83.4 degrees) and center of the keyboard (93 degrees) stayed nice and cool.

Software and Warranty

The Notebook 7 has a mix of useful programs and complete junk preinstalled. Among the unwanted bloatware are Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard, TripAdvisor, Netflix, Twitter and Norton Security. Samsung includes a recovery utility for backup management, Simple Sharing for exchanging files with Android devices, and Wi-Fi Transfer, which sends files to other computers wirelessly.

Samsung sells the Notebook 7 Spin with a one-year warranty. See how Samsung performed on our Best and Worst Brands ranking and Tech Support Showdown.

Configuration

The Notebook 7 Spin that we reviewed included a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U; 16GB of RAM; an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU with 2GB of VRAM; a 1TB, 5,400 rpm HDD; and a 128GB SSD. This configuration will set you back $1,199.

A configuration with 12GB of RA and no SSD that is otherwise identical will run you $999. If you want a smaller screen, there’s a $799 version with a 13-inch, 1080p display, a Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.

Bottom Line

If you care about your laptop looking as good as it performs, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin will catch your eye with its minimalist look. In addition, it has enough horsepower for some graphic design and the lightest of gaming. Unfortunately, its shallow keyboard, sloppy webcam and ephemeral battery life make it more difficult to recommend for true productivity users.

If you dont need the graphics performance, the HP Spectre x360 15t (starting at $1,150) is also beautiful but offers several hours more battery life and amazing speakers. The 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Yoga (starting at $1,394) also offers excellent battery life and is far lighter than either the Spectre or the Notebook 7. But the Notebook 7 is a capable device — some might even call it beautiful — as long as you can move past the flaws below the surface.

(laptopmag.com, http://goo.gl/s5BcfS)

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