Samsung 700G7A GAMER
Samsung's latest gaming laptop is a monster of a 17-inch machine, with a huge, bright screen and a powerful combination of Core i7 and ATI Radeon graphics. It's one of the heaviest laptops we've looked at, weighing in at almost 4Kg, but with plenty of power and a massive HD 3D screen.
When you lift the glossy plastic lid of this hefty wedge-shaped laptop, it doesn't obstruct the huge cooling vents at the back of the case. That's a good thing, as we discovered the 700G gets quite warm, even when running on battery power and using a balanced profile. A matte metal keyboard surround stops suddenly at the reflective plastic strip that borders the two surprisingly small speaker grilles - which are even more surprising when you finally hear the volume it can put out. There is also a set of bright indicator lights that shine up through the smoky mirrored surface.
Keyboard and trackpad
There's a raised wrist rest around the large illuminated trackpad, which, combined with the rake of the wedge-shaped case makes typing on the keyboard surprisingly comfortable. If you couldn’t tell from the design that this is a gaming laptop, you’d guess from the highlighted W,A,S and D keys, ready for you to enter your virtual world of choice. There's plenty of travel on the keyboard, and the size of the machine leaves plenty of room for a full-size numeric keypad. Even so, we did find the keys themselves a little on the small side, and it was a little too easy to hit the wrong key. That's not something you want on a gaming machine, where the wrong key could be the difference between virtual life and virtual death.
A strip of function keys doubles as system and a basic set of media keys, with F1 also launching Samsung's set-up tools. You can use these to adjust the keyboard backlight, as well as tuning the display colour. Oddly there are no play/pause controls, as Samsung seems to believe that gamers don't play music or watch movies.
Perhaps one of the more unusual features is the four position switch on the right of the keyboard, which rotates between different power modes, even switching screen backdrops and keyboard backlight colours when you choose the laptop's gaming mode. The large touch pad is responsive, with a single bar that functions as left and right buttons. It has the usual range of single and multi-touch gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and a three-finger swipe to switch between programs.
Big, beautiful display and surprising sound
We really liked the huge 17.3-inch widescreen HD display. It's bright and clear, with a full HD 1920 by 1080 resolution. 1080p videos were clear and easy on the eye, with no artefacts and plenty of detail. The same was true for 720p movies streamed over a home network, with smooth upscaling.
The built-in Movie Colour Enhancer software turns on automatically when you play a supported format and, while we're generally not in favour of tools like this, we were pleasantly surprised by the results, which gave out test 720p video just that little bit more vibrancy and contrast.
The video quality is matched by the audio, with a set of powerful speakers that work well for video, for gaming and for both local and streamed audio. Two speakers sit behind the keyboard, with a subwoofer on the underside of the case.
The back edge of the machine is filled with a massive pair of cooling fans, looking like the rear-light cluster of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. A Blu-ray drive takes up most of the right side, next to the mode dial and two USB 2.0 ports. Power is on the left, with HDMI, Display Port and VGA video ports, so you can connect to just about any screen, plus two USB 3.0 ports and a SD card reader for your camera.
The incredible hulk
This isn't a portable laptop, not by a long way. It's not even one for your lap. With a Core i7 processor and a screen this big, it's a desktop replacement. So it wasn't surprising that the battery life wasn't particularly long.
Using our standard tests, mixing streaming and video, on a balanced power setting, we got just an hour of battery. One thing to note is Samsung's Easy Settings tool. In order to preserve battery lifespan (not battery life), it sets the maximum charge to 80 per cent. You'll need to turn Battery Life Extender off to get the most out of your machine if you're planning to use it on the move, but we don’t see this monster travelling that far.
Samsung has bundled a reasonable selection of software with the 700G. Cyberlink's Media Suite, Microsoft's Live Essentials and Office 2010 Starter are the highlights, with Samsung's own suite of Easy tools giving you all you need to keep your machine tuned just the way you want. 3D support is handled by TriDef's tools, which can upscale existing DVD movies to 3D for viewing with the supplied 3D glasses (if you like that sort of thing).
There's a lot to like about the Samsung Series 7 700G, if you overlook its lack of portability and battery life. Like most 17-inch laptops, this is a desktop replacement, with a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM.
It's a hefty machine able to handle the most-demanding games and media applications, but where it really excels in its display. Samsung makes great LCD panels, and 700G showcases their quality, with a clear, bright display and with the power needed to deliver the media performance that will show off the display. 3D is the cherry on the top.