Samsung: Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2013

We’re a big fan of Samsung’s designs. Ultrabooks like the Series 9 and Series 7 just reek of sleek. Samsung also shined in this year’s Tech Support Showdown, offering a revamped site and help via social networks. The brand could do a better job with its keyboards, though, and we’d like to see more synergy between the mobile and PC divisions. S Note (available on the ATIV Smart PC line) is a good start. 

Reviews (9/20)

The only brand other than Sony not to receive an Editors’ Choice award this past year, Samsung had a bit of an off year that landed it in a three-way tie for last in this category. Of the nine notebooks we tested, two received 4 stars — the Series 7 Chronos and the Series 7 Gamer — and three received 3.5 stars. However, the Series 5 550 Chromebook, an overpriced and underperforming system running Google Chrome, earned a 2.5-star review.

[More: See most recent Samsung laptops reviews.]

Design (13/15)

Samsung knows how to make an attractive notebook. Most of the brand’s systems sport lightweight, aluminum chassis that exude an understated sophistication. The alluring Series 9 15-inch and the Samsung Series 7 Chronos 17-inch are two such examples. Where Samsung really deserves a round of applause is its Chromebook line. Instead of gaudy, flimsy materials, Samsung uses silvery plastics that make the Chromebook Series 3 resemble higher-end machines.

Keyboard and Touchpad (10/15)

Samsung’s keyboards offered mixed results this year. The Series 9 15-inch suffered from shallow key travel. Both the Series 7 Chronos 15-inch and the Series 7 Chronos 17-inch offered good typing experiences, but were slightly uncomfortable due to their extra-deep palm rests. A recurring theme throughout Samsung machines was the lack of keyboard backlighting. Reactions to touchpads on the Series 5 14- and 15-inch and Series 7 Gamer were overwhelmingly positive. Unfortunately, the company’s Chromebooks lacked multitouch gestures. Such issues brought Samsung’s score down two points from last year.

Tech Support (13/15)

Samsung drastically improved upon its tech support this year, featuring a new website design, a community section with Q&As and FAQs and an improved social media presence that was both responsive and accurate. The brand’s home page links to product pages with a plethora of resources, including user manuals, downloads, videos and support options. Samsung’s phone support was helpful overall, but we sometimes had to prod representatives to get answers.

[More: Read Samsung's Tech Support Showdown results.]

Display and Audio (8/10)

Samsung bumped up its score three points over last year, thanks to the beautiful displays and impressive audio in its higher-end notebooks, such as the 1920 x 1080-pixel screen and JBL speakers in the Series 7 Chronos. Not all of Samsung’s notebooks were up to those standards, as the Series 5 Ultratouch offered narrow viewing angles. Most notebooks contained the SoundAlive audio software, which was hit or miss.

Value and Selection (7/10)

Samsung’s budget category is smaller than that of some competitors, but it does include a handful of sub-$500 systems in the Series 3 line, plus a very popular Google Chrome OS laptop for $249. Notebooks such as the Series 7 Gamer and premium Series 9 15-inch Ultrabook cost upward of $1,200, but are priced competitively versus other brands. Samsung.com displays preconfigured options, but you can’t order everything directly from the site. Fortunately, there’s ample availability at Walmart and Best Buy, as well as online retailers.

Innovation (6/10)

Just because we’ve entered the “post-PC era” doesn’t mean notebooks can’t learn from smartphones and tablets. The new ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T comes with a Galaxy-like S Pen that lets users take notes, draw and more. The Series 7 Gamer proved to us that Samsung could innovate in new areas; the rig features a unique dial that easily switched between gaming, normal, quiet and power-saving modes. We’re excited to try the RAM accelerator technology in the Series 7 Chronos, which promises up to a 150-percent speed boost.

Software (3/5)

If you own or play to buy a Samsung system manufactured within the past year or so, odds are that you’ll find Easy Software Manager, which downloads and installs updates and drivers. Samsung Easy Settings allows you to adjust settings for the battery, display, audio, keyboard backlighting (if your Samsung is equipped with it) and USB charging. Best of all: Samsung includes a Start Menu replacement on Windows 8 systems.

Best and Worst Notebook Brands 2013

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  1. Cerelia Says:

    I’m assuming whoever did this review never actually had an issue with the Series 7 Chronos which required serious technical support.

    Important to note that Samsung has the worst warranty process I’ve ever experienced, and as a result, I’ll never purchase their laptops again. I’ve had Toshibas, Dells, IBMs, etc. I’m a high-end power user (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.) and I’m also extremely tech-savvy when it comes to fixing electronics. I purchased this laptop and the drive crashed after 2 months. I had to send the laptop to their Texas facility (it took 3 weeks for the turnaround)… 2 months later, the system crashed a second time. In a 1 year period, this laptop has crashed a total of 4 separate drives. Each time, reloading my system with all my software takes a good 4hrs. Imagine, each time you lose your laptop for 3 weeks. Their “executive customer relations” department is without a doubt, the worst, rudest, and most arrogant department I’ve ever had the misfortune to deal with. Samsung’s entry into the laptop market really leaves a lot to be desired. This has been a nightmare experience from beginning to end. They don’t give a damn about the customer.

    When they finally offered a “same as or better” replacement, they considered that offering me a 15.6″ laptop screen instead of the 17.3″ I currently had was the “same or better”. Also, their “refund” was not for my full purchase price – it was for $200 less after a year of continual crashes. I finally gave up with them, filed a claim with Amex platinum and they refunded me the entire price – let them deal with this garbage. My time is worth much more than spending in excess of 10hrs dealing with Samsung…

    Incidentally, after the 1TB drive failed that arrived with the system, I purchased a solid state drive. It then crashed that drive. Luckily that drive (by Crucial) was under its own warranty and they have had to continually replace it for me 3 times. At this point, they won’t replace it for me any more as it’s obvious the fault is with the laptop. So, I’m out the price of the solid state drive ($350). Samsung, even though they accept responsibility that the laptop caused the failures will give me no reimbursement at all.

    It really is the absolute worst customer service. It is not only the laptop that stops me from buying from them again, it’s the support – if something goes wrong, you really are in trouble.

  2. Daniel Wayne Says:

    I have chronos 7 np700z5b. The design of laptop is 10/10. I fall in love with design but touch pad started to feel bad first year. I also had bad pixel on the screen since I bought it. I sent it before warranty finishes. I also said I have an issue with touch pad. They didn’t change the touchpad but key

  3. Daniel Wayne Says:

    I have chronos 7 np700z5b. The design of laptop is 10/10. I fall in love with design but touch pad started to feel bad first year. I also had bad pixel on the screen since I bought it. I sent it before warranty finishes. I also said I have an issue with touch pad. it was denting. They didn’t change the touchpad/trackpad but they changed keyboard and around metal frame. Keyboard and metal frame still looks nice but touchpad/trackpad messed up. Its been killing me last 7 months and now. It is clicking itself. It doesn’t point right direction. I also have an issue with plastic frame. Its been loose and effects my screen. I hope my screen won’t be broken. The experience I had, wasn’t nice.

  4. hem chandra nepal Says:

    i want your all kind of model and its price list to start business

  5. TW Fung Says:

    I just want to report what a hassle it was to get a replacement battery pack for a Samsung Ultrabook which is only 2 years old. Nobody carries that part in stock except Samsung warehouse. The Samsung parts company who sold me the part had a terrible phone system. After trying twice and waiting online for 10 minutes, I finally talked to someone who really didn’t want to work today. The customer rep on the phone was rude. I will never buy another computer from Samsung.

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