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Samsung Series 7 All-in-one (Windows 8) review: A pretty face that's good enough

The sacrifices to price are obvious in the Samsung Series 7 all-in-one, but this good-looking PC still has its charms.

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

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7 min read

Samsung's tidy, new $1,099 Series 7 all-in-one mirrors others in its price range, offering a relatively frictionless entry point for those interested in a touch screen, Windows 8-based PC. A poorly implemented gesture control scheme is a minor sticking point, but given the price of this system, Samsung isn't asking much of a a premium for gesture input.

Samsung Series 7 700A3D - Core i5 3470T 2.9 GHz : LED 23.6"
7.0

Samsung Series 7 All-in-one (Windows 8)

The Good

The attractive <b>Samsung Series 7</b> offers a top-notch Windows 8 touch experience at an affordable price.

The Bad

Samsung sacrificed performance to keep the price down, and a gesture recognition feature is best left ignored.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Series 7 isn't the fastest, or the most fully featured midrange all-in-one, but casual PC users should consider it for its affordability and overall polish.

Among other 23-inch Windows 8 all-in-ones, the Samsung Series 7 is one of the most affordable, without sacrificing too much in terms of its core features. Other all-in-ones offer some more intriguing features if you're willing to spend just $100 or $200 more, but if your needs are simple, and/or if you have a hard budget limit, the Samsung Series 7 offers perfectly serviceable option.

The new Series 7 has a less daring look than the model Samsung debuted when it entered the U.S. desktop market in 2011, but it still looks better than most all-in-ones. Gone is the assymetrical base unit and flat-folding screen, replaced here by a swooping stand design and a screen that only reclines about 30 degrees. The more conservative tilt range will still provide some improved comfort when you want to use the system primarily via the touch screen, but it obviously prevents the new Series 7 from serving as a true tabletop computer.

Another casualty of the new unit is the Galaxy Tab-style touch environment that Samsung debuted in the previous model, made superfluous by Windows 8.

I suspect that few buyers of this PC will lament those changes. It wouldn't hurt for the display to recline a bit more, but otherwise, this is a solid touch-screen all-in-one. Samsung deserves particular credit for the responsiveness of the touch screen. This will be the tenth Windows 8 all-in-one that I've reviewed. While I don't have an objective method to test touch screen response, anecdotally, the Samsung Series 7 feels second only to the Dell XPS One 27.

Less successful is the Series 7's gesture input. It's similar to the the same gesture recognition from PointGrab which shipped in the Acer Aspire 7600U, but Samsung uses technology from a company called XTR3D instead. Either way, as with the Acer system, I found the gesture input unintuitive and worse, unresponsive.

Samsung includes a small card with five gesture commands on it, slotted into a plastic stand you can set up next to the system as a reminder. That's a useful touch, but it would also have been thoughtful for Samsung to surface the gesture application on either the Windows 8 touch interface, or at least with an icon on the desktop screen. Until you launch that application, you can't turn the gesture recognition function on, and the only way you can find it seems to be by searching.

Beyond the fact that Samsung obscures the application to launch gesture input (when it should really launch at startup), either the software or the camera isn't responsive enough to detect your movements very accurately. Some gestures, like side-to-side scrolling by sliding your outstretched palm from left to right, seem to work about 75-percent as well as they should. Others, like pushing your fist up to the camera to swap between the Windows desktop and the Windows 8 touch environment, never worked at all.

I'm not willing to write off gesture input entirely. If someone makes it natural, fast, and intuitive, I can see how all-in-one usability might benefit. Windows PC vendors, as always, are also desperate for a way to differentiate themselves. Gesture tech from PointGrab or some other company might even provide a non-awkward experience one day, but right now, either the tech isn't good enough to matter, or the vendors don't know how to implement it properly. Regardless, don't buy this system for the gesture input.


Samsung Series 7Dell Inspiron One 2330Asus ET2300INTI
Price$1,099$1,199$1,299
Display size/resolution23.6-inch, 1,920x1,080 touch screen23-inch, 1,920x1,080 touch screen23-inch, 1,920x1,080 touch screen
CPU2.9GHz Intel Core i5-3470T2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3330S3.0GHz Intel Core i5 3330
Memory6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics32MB Intel HD Graphics 250032MB Intel HD Graphics 25001GB Nvidia GeForce GT630M
Hard drives1TB, 5,400rpm1TB, 7,200rpm1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drivedual-layer DVD burnerdual-layer DVD burnerdual-layer DVD burner
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating systemWindows 8 (64-bit)Windows 8 (64-bit)Windows 8 (64-bit)

It's easy to look at the Series 7 and see only shortcomings. It has a dual-core version of Intel's Core i5, where others use the full quad-core silicon. It only has 6GB of RAM, next to 8GB from its competitors. Samsung also went with a slower 5,400 rpm hard drive.

If those sacrifices bother you, the Dell Inspiron One 2330 costs just $100 more. That system also has a wider array of video and audio connectivity options, and it's generally faster than the Samsung Series 7, as you'll see in our charts below.

Despite all of that, I don't feel too let down by the Samsung. It has a more polished appearance than the Dell, and it also has better touch-screen input. Those things won't be important to everyone, but Samsung can at least claim it has a few benefits to offset the sacrifices to its core features.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Toshiba LX835-D3380 (2.4Ghz Core i7, November 2012)
195

Vizio CA24T-A4 (2.5GHz Core i5, November 2012)

211

Asus ET2300INTI (3.0GHz Core i5, November 2012)

213

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

215

Dell Inspiron One 2330 (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

222

Samsung Series 7 (2.9GHz Core i5, February 2013)

232

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)
65

Samsung Series 7 (2.9GHz Core i5, February 2013)

96

Toshiba LX835-D3380 (2.4Ghz Core i7, November 2012)

99

Asus ET2300INTI (3.0GHz Core i5, November 2012)

102

Dell Inspiron One 2330 (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

105

Vizio CA24T-A4 (2.5GHz Core i5, November 2012)

110

Multimedia multitasking -- iTunes and Handbrake (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Toshiba LX835-D3380 (2.4Ghz Core i7, November 2012)
187

Asus ET2300INTI (3.0GHz Core i5, November 2012)

247

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

264

Dell Inspiron One 2330 (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

268

Vizio CA24T-A4 (2.5GHz Core i5, November 2012)

401

Samsung Series 7 (2.9GHz Core i5, February 2013)

406

Cinebench 11.5

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Rendering Multiple CPUs  

Rendering Single CPU  

Toshiba LX835-D3380 (2.4Ghz Core i7, November 2012)
6.471.42

Asus ET2300INTI (3.0GHz Core i5, November 2012)

4.981.35

Dell Inspiron One 2330 (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

4.661.33

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (2.7Ghz Core i5, November 2012)

4.441.28

Samsung Series 7 (2.9GHz Core i5, February 2013)

3.31.24

Vizio CA24T-A4 (2.5GHz Core i5, November 2012)

2.871.28

The Samsung's performance results reflect the penalties that come with its pared-down components. On most tests, the Series 7, with its dual-core chip and reduced memory, lags appropriately behind PCs with more robust hardware.

The one advantage of the dual-core chip is that Intel can often provide better single-core performance on CPUs with fewer cores. That explains the Series 7's excellent iTunes performance. If you spend a lot of time converting audio files between formats, the Samsung might actually be a more appropriate performance choice than its competition.

The connectivity options included in the Samsung Series 7 include everything you should expect to find in a contemporary all-in-one, all of which are well integrated into the clean system design. A pair of USB 3.0 ports, an SD Card slot, and a set of analog audio jacks hide behind a panel on the left edge of the system.

The back of the system maintains a clean appearance by situating the ports underneath a narrow plastic shelf, with the HDMI-in, HDMI-out, Ethernet port, and a trio of USB 2.0 ports are all well marked. The Series 7 doesn't have more exotic ports like digital audio output, Thunderbolt, or different video connectors, but most mainstream consumers should find the input/output options adequate.

Conclusion

Samsung imposed some very clear limits to the Series 7 to keep its price down, but it also made a modest effort to make up the difference with a well-conceived system design and high-quality touch-screen input. You won't have to pay too much more for a substantially faster Windows 8 all-in-one, but the Samsung Series 7 is worth considering if you want a PC that looks great and offers good-enough performance for a reasonable price.

Performance testing conducted by Joseph Kaminski. Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations
Apple iMac 21.5-inch (November 2012)
Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8; 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-3330S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Asus ET2300INTI
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i5-3330; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell Inspiron One 2330
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3330S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 2500 (embedded); 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Samsung Series 7 All-in-one
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-3470T; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 2500 (embedded); 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Toshiba LX835-D3380
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card; 2TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Vizio CA24T-A4
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000 (embedded); 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Samsung Series 7 700A3D - Core i5 3470T 2.9 GHz : LED 23.6"
7.0

Samsung Series 7 All-in-one (Windows 8)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6
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