Update: Samsung informs us that it has updated its pricing breakdown for the Series 7 all-in-one, and it will offer only two models, a $999 Core i3 model that is exclusive to Best Buy, and a widely available Core i5-based unit for $1,199.
We didn't know what to expect from Samsung when it told us it wanted to meet to show off its first U.S.-bound desktop, the Series 7 all-in-one. Toshiba, the other newest player in the U.S. desktop market, introduced its by-the-numbers DX1210 all-in-one earlier this year, so we dreaded another commodity play. We also think of Samsung in terms of its battle with Sony in the high-end TV market. That left open the possibility that Samsung might run its desktop against those of its familiar competitor, and come to market with something like the woefully overpriced Sony Vaio L Series 3D Edition.
Imagine our relief when the 23-inch Samsung Series 7 all-in-one turned out to be neither of those things.
On its looks alone we anticipated a higher-end price tag. Samsung's design is marginally reminiscent of the quirky Lenovo IdeaCentre A Series in that both tuck the computing parts into the base of the system to allow for a thin display. Samsung's design is more confident than Lenovo's, though, and the Series 7's standard hinge makes it easier to adjust the display than the Lenovo's off-center post does.
We also like that Samsung has taken the display's wide tilt range to its obvious extreme, allowing you to adjust the touch screen along a full, 90-degree arc. Not everyone will have the need, or the physical space, to use an all-in-one like an interactive tabletop, but it can offer a certain novelty (air hockey, anyone?) We also thought HP left the job half-finished with its TouchSmart 610 series, which only tilts back about 60 degrees.
Throw in welcome touches like surface acoustic wave (SAW) touch sensing, HDMI input, second-generation Intel Core mobile CPUs, and a unique, simple touch software interface borrowed from Samsung's imminent Series 7 Slate tablet, and it seems that Samsung's desktop is not simply lining up with the other bland all-in-ones out there.
And the price? The most high-end Series 7 all-in-one, with a Core i5 CPU, will sell for $1,199. A Core i3 model will go for $999. The unit Samsung left with us is a third variant, exclusive to Best Buy, with a Core i5 chip, that will sell for $1,099 when it goes on sale October 10.
We'll test it. We'll give it some hands-on time. The protruding optical drive on the base gives us pause, although at least it's a slot-loader. With the design, unique features, and value we've seen so far in this system, our overarching first impression is that Samsung has given thoughtful consideration to its U.S. desktop debut.