Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) review

The Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) all-in-one desktop offers very good bang for the buck, and includes a lot of features we'd say are must-haves in a new midrange all-in-one Windows 8 desktop.

Is this an all-in-one desktop PC or a 23-inch HDTV? Well, the price of the Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) ($1,099.99) is a dead giveaway, but you’d be forgiven thinking it’s an HDTV if you approach it when it’s showing HD videos. Like the latest round of Samsung Smart TVs, the system has a sculpted silver metallic stand and slim screen profile. The DP700A3D is a very good system for media consumption, with a clear and bright display for videos, photos, and webs sites. It takes a few concessions to come in less expensive than rivals, but unless you’re a heavy media creation user, you’re unlikely to notice. It’s system for those who want an all-in-one desktop that you can hide in plain sight rather than hide away.

Design and Features
The DP700A3D has the look of one of Samsung’s new HDTVs, like the Samsung UN55ES8000F. Both have curved, silver-colored stands shaped like a sculpted rectangular oval supporting the screen. The DP700A3D tilts from straight up to lean back about 30 degrees. It’s not quite as versatile as say the tilt on the Dell XPS One 27 Touch ($2,599), but then again, the SP700A3D isn’t anywhere close to being that expensive. The DP700A3D measures about 23 by 17 by 7 inches (HWD), so it will fit on most work surfaces.

The 23.6-inch LED backlit screen is clear, with just a touch of reflectiveness on the surface. The ten-point touch screen is responsive and reacts quickly to Windows 8 gestures and finger taps. It’s very clear and bright, with a wide viewing angle both horizontally and vertically. This is likely due to Samsung’s ability to source HDTV-quality panels from its own factories.

The system has I/O ports under a door on the right side of the screen, as well as on the back panel of the system (sort of). The ports on the right are under an easily opened door, and they include the system’s SD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports, microphone jack, and headphone jack. The door is a nice touch, since when closed the PC still looks like a HDTV.

The ports on the back are a little more problematic. They are all on the bottom of a crossbar, so you have to plug cables “up” into the crossbar. This can be an issue if you have dexterity problems or limited space around your system, or if you’re constantly connecting and disconnecting cables. The ports in the back include a Kensington security slot, Ethernet, HDMI out, HDMI in, three USB 2.0 ports, and the system’s speakers. A memory cover on the back panel can be unscrewed and removed to reveal the system’s memory slots (both filled). The right side of the screen holds the system’s tray-loading DVD burner.

The system we tested came with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which use a USB dongle that can be plugged into one of the USB 2.0 ports in the back of the system. The system uses an external AC adapter, and while that power brick can be unsightly if left out, it also means that the screen with the PC components built in is only about an inch-and-a-quarter thick. The system comes with a one-year warranty.

The DP700A3D is well suited for media entertainment. It comes with 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi so you can connect it to a less crowded frequency in your area. The DVD drive can be used to playback older movies, though we would’ve liked to have seen a Blu-ray player on this media-oriented system. The built-in speakers lacked a subwoofer, but they still pumped out a decent amount of sound, and the included Dolby audio software helps shape the sound for movies, games, or music. Plugging in an external settop box was easy, thanks to the HDMI-in port, and you can even hook the PC up to an external HDTV with the HDMI-out port.

Touch-sensitive soft keys silkscreened on the front of the system control all onscreen functions like brightness, source (HDMI-in), disc eject, and system volume. The DP700A3D is a bit better equipped than rivals like the Lenovo IdeaCentre B540 (899.99) and Apple iMac 21.5-Inch (Late 2012) ($1,299), both of which lack an HDMI-in port. If you need more than just the HDMI-in port, the Dell Inspiron One 23 ($1199) also comes with VGA in/out and composite AV in.

The system comes with a 1TB hard drive, sufficient for the light to moderate media collector. If you need more space, you can connect external hard drives to the the two USB 3.0 ports on the side. The system comes with a selection of pre-loaded software, including programs like Jamie Oliver recipes, Pinball KX2, Adera, Shark Dash, Fresh Paint, Kindle, Netflix, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Music Maker Jam, Evernote, Norton Internet Security (60-day trial), Skype, Stumbleupon, S Player, S Camera, Allshare Play, S Service, Support Center, Recovery, and Help Desk. Quick Starter is an interesting program: Initially it brings up an app-loading dock. However, if you dig deeper, you’ll see that Quick Starter replicates the behavior of the Windows 7 Start menu, including access to the computer drives, control panel, and programs. It’s a nice touch, though you have to know it’s there before you’re able to use it.

Another feature that is searching for usefulness is the built in Gesture Control that uses the webcam to follow your hand. Yes, you can use the Gesture Control by holding out your hand, then controlling elements on the screen using an open hand/closed fist motion, or swipes, turns, and rotation motions. However, it’s nowhere nearly as developed as gesture controls like the hand and arm motions on the Xbox’s Kinect peripheral, and your arm will get tired quickly when you need to constantly hold it straight out to register in Gesture Control. In most cases it will be more convenient to physically touch the screen or use the keyboard/mouse.

Performance

The DP700A3D comes with an Intel Core i5-3470T processor with Intel HD Graphics 2500, 6GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive, and Windows 8. The combo is good for decent, if undistinguished scores on our day-to-day performance (PCMark7), multimedia (Handbrake and Photoshop CS6), and processor rendering (CineBench R11.5) tests. It’s worth noting that the DP700A3D falls behind the Dell Inspiron One 23, which has a “slower” Core i5 processor, and the Toshiba LX835-D3380 ($1,399), which has a more powerful quad-core processor and discrete 3D graphics.

Both the Dell Inspiron One 23 and DP700A3D use Intel HD Graphics 2500 integrated 3D graphics, which is less capable than the Intel HD Graphics 4000 or Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics in most of the other all-in-ones in this price range. Take a look at our benchmark charts if you’re curious, but suffice to say that you’ll get good to very good general performance out of the DP700A3D, but don’t expect to play current 3D games on it.

The Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) has great styling and a very good feature set. It is less expensive than the Dell Inspiron One 23, which has a similar feature set, though the DP700A3D’s monitor brightness and clarity blow the Dell Inspiron One 23 out of the water. Vizio’s 24-Inch All-in-One (CA24T-A4) ($1,299) is $200 more expensive and has a similarly nice screen thanks to its HDTV pedigree, but in this case you’re really paying extra for the styling. Ultimately, the Apple iMac 21.5-Inch (Late 2012) holds on to its Editors’ Choice for midrange all-in-one desktops due to its overall performance, future-proofing technology, and 3D discrete graphics. The DP700A3D is a good choice if you’re looking for attractive styling, an equally nice screen, Windows 8 compatibility, and if your needs lean more toward media appreciation rather than media creation.

BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US)

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) with several other desktops side by side.

More desktop reviews:

Specifications
Touchscreen Yes
Primary Optical Drive Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Processor Family Intel Core i5
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 2500
Screen Size 23.6 inches
Monitor Type LCD Widescreen
RAM 6 GB
Type All-in-one, Touchscreen All-In-One
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 1000 GB
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8

Verdict
The Samsung Series 7 (DP700A3D-A01US) all-in-one desktop has a very good bang for the buck, and includes a lot of features we'd say are must-haves in a new midrange all-in-one desktop with Windows 8.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc