Samsung’s 550P7C is a laptop only in the very broadest sense of the word. Its size and heft mean you’re unlikely to want to have it actually sitting in your lap for very long, and not at all on a busy commuter train where you’re likely to elbow fellow travellers in the ribs.
And the Samsung 550P7C is not the kind of notebook you can sling in a bag and cart around without risking the need to trouble your chiropractor before long.
As a desktop replacement, however, it boasts some impressive credentials, including an Ivy Bridge Core i7 CPU rated at 2.3GHz (Turbo Boost 3.3GHz). That all-important screen is LED backlit, measures 17.3in, and crams in 1600 x 900 pixels. It's driven by an nVidia GeForce GT 650M with 2GB of VRAM, which is very capable graphics processor.
The display has a matt finish so while not optimal for watching movies, it will please those troubled by glare in a well-lit rooms and offices.
In terms of connecting to the outside world, the Samsung 550P7C has gigabit ethernet, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
There are two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, a three-in-one card reader, and both VGA and HDMI. There’s also a Blu-ray/DVD-RW drive. Oh and a pair of JBL-branded speakers with extra bass speaker.
Given the Samsung 550P7C’s core specs and its price, you’d be forgiven for thinking that something has to give somewhere. And you’d be right. That something is build quality. It’s not that its flimsy, far from it. But the plastic chassis is very, well, plastic.
And while it won’t slide easily off your desk, thanks to its 3kg heft and rubber feet, we’d hate to imagine the consequences if it did. We’d expect better of a high-spec laptop.
The keyboard, on the other hand, is lovely. Keys are well-spaced and have enough travel to make typing on it very satisfying. The trackpad is responsive and supports multi-touch gestures such as pinch to zoom – you’ll have minutes of fun re-arranging the icons on your desktop with that.
In our tests the Samsung 550 did rather well. A WorldBench score of 121 points won’t break any records but for a machine at this price is very respectable.
And the MobileMark 2007 Productivity score of over 440 minutes battery life is excellent.
In our games tests, the 550 notched up a decent 122fps in FEAR with detail set to Maximum.
In the more challenging Crysis test we recorded rates of 65fps (DirectX 9, 1024 x 768, Low detail) and 39fps (DirectX 10, 1280 x 720, Medium). That puts the 550 some way behind the likes of games-tuned Toshiba’s Qosmio X870-11Q and the Alienware M14x – but for a laptop which can be bought for less than £800, it’s very respectable.
Audio from the speakers over-emphasised the bass a little too much for our liking, but was an improvement on most laptop speakers, and Blu-ray movies looked great on the large display.
There’s very little not to like about the Samsung 550P7C. The keyboard and trackpad are particularly good and while the speakers are a little bassy, we were quite impresssed. We’d like the build quality to be better, but at this price, we can’t complain too much.