Samsung: 2017 Brand Report Card
Samsung makes a few solid laptops, but apart from its high-end Chromebooks and sleek Galaxy Book, most of the company's systems fail to stand out from the pack. Even worse, the company's tech support agents failed us multiple times and kept routing us to smartphone support.
Samsung's Key Strengths
- Innovative designs: The Chromebook Pro/Plus and Galaxy Book both add significant improvements.
- Balanced lineup: Its Notebook 7 spin, 5 and M fill in the gap between high-end ATIV notebooks and affordable Chromebooks.
Samsung's Main Weaknesses
- Flailing tech support: No, Samsung, we're calling about a Notebook 7 spin, not a Note 7 phone.
- Major asterisks: The wobbliness of the TabPro S and the half-baked software in Chromebooks made these devices problematic.
- No must-haves: None of Samsung's laptops were good enough to earn Editors' Choice awards.
Top-Rated Samsung Laptops
MORE: The Best Samsung Laptops
Samsung had our worst overall review score among laptop vendors this year. We reviewed five laptops (the Chromebook Pro and Plus were counted in one review), and none them was strong enough to receive our Editors’ Choice award.
The 4-star Chromebooks were easily Samsung's best entry, thanks to streamlined design and great pen integration, but the software was half-baked. The Notebook 7 Spin and the Notebook 9 Spin were average (and expensive) 2-in-1s, and last year’s Galaxy TabPro S (3.5 stars) had a great OLED display but wobbled in our laps and had a shallow keyboard. While there was nothing from Samsung we outright suggested not to get, it also did very little to stand out, Chromebooks aside.
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to Samsung's laptop designs. The company eschewed creating traditional laptops in favor of transforming convertibles, with the exception of the Notebook 9. But instead of sticking to one type of hybrid design, Samsung delivered several, such as the Galaxy Tab Pro S with its magnetic, detachable keyboard; or the Notebook 7 Spin, which relies on a single, large hinge to switch from laptop to tablet.
Samsung continues to make handsome — albeit unassuming — laptops with polycarbonate or aluminum chassis, which look and feel premium. Heck, even the Chromebook Pro has a top-end look about it.
But like most laptop manufacturers, Samsung is committed to populating the world at large with systems that are either black or gray. It's a shame, when you take into account the company's smartphones, which are available in gold, pink, blue, white, black and sometimes red.
In our testing, Samsung phone support agents gave us incorrect or incomplete answers in two out of three calls. We were particularly disappointed when a company rep didn't know how Samsung's own SideSync software works. Even worse, the voice-activated phone tree kept routing us to smartphone support when we asked for help with our notebook.
With its Chromebook Pro/Plus, a touch-screen convertible 2-in-1 that offers pen input, Samsung has helped to reinvent the Chromebook. The 2-in-1 lets you take notes and sketch on the go, and everything gets saved to the cloud. The TabPro S has been another standout, because it was one of the first convertibles with an OLED display. Samsung is now turning its attention to the TabPro S’ successor, the Galaxy Book, which offers convenient smartphone features such as the ability to respond to text messages.
Value and Selection (10/15)
In recent years, Samsung employed a two-pronged approach that consisted of its premium line of ATIV notebooks that were balanced out by its budget-friendly Chromebooks. However, over the last 12 months, Samsung has been doing an admirable job of filling in the gaps with a number of systems priced between $400 and $800, like the Notebook 7 Spin, the Notebook 5 and the Notebook M. Samsung even has 15-inch gaming laptops in the Notebook Odyssey to go along with its standard productivity machines, so there's something to frag on, too.
Samsung's warranty policies are acceptable, but not exceptional. The company offers a standard, one-year, limited warranty for all of its laptops and, unlike a few other brands, provides free shipping (complete with a label) if you need to send your system in for service. Changing your RAM or storage voids your warranty, though, and the company does not offer extended warranties.