The Bottom Line
Dec 7 2011 - Now that Samsung has corrected some of its original pricing issues thanks to the ultrabook compeition, the Series 9 is a much more attractive 13-inch ultraportable than it previously was. The performance is exceptional and the display is one of the best for using outside in bright light. Add in a nice keyboard and great warranty and it is a very attractive option. There are a number of smaller issues that still plague it from being exceptional including battery life that is below most of the competition and a few odd port choices made for the sake of the design.
- Excellent Performance
- Bright Display With Antiglare Coating
- Three Year Warranty
- Display Resolution Below Similarly Priced Competitors
- Doesn't Support Standard Size SD Cards
- Below Average Battery Life
- Intel Core i5-2467M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, micro-HDMI, microSD Card Slot
- 12.9" x 8.9" x .64" @ 2.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Samsung Series 9 900X3A-B01
Dec 7 2011 - Samsung's Series 9 is an ultraportable that is designed squarely at the Apple MacBook Air 13. What was surprising is that the original pricing of $1650 was more than Apple's high pricing. Now that ultrabooks are out and some of the tech has changed, the pricing has become a bit more reasonable with street pricing between $1200 and $1350.
What sets the Samsung apart from the sea of ultrabooks that have hit the market is the design. Most of the companies have tried to imitate the design of the Apple products. The Series 9 makes its mark with a nice black and light chrome accents instead of the standard silvers and some curves rather than sharp edges. This design does have the drawback of limiting the number and size of ports though. They did at least keep the USB 3.0 port for high speed peripherals but had to use a smaller micro-HDMI for video output and a microSD for flash cards. At least they include a gigabit Ethernet port that Apple and a few ultrabooks fail to include.
The keyboard design and layout is one of the best to be found in the ultraportable market. It uses the standard isolate layout typical to most laptops but it doesn't sacrifice the feel due to the limited space in the chassis. It is nice to see large enter, shift and backspace keys rather than putting a few special keys on the side as well. They even include backlighting for the keyboard that many have dropped to keep prices down. The trackpad is a single clickpad design that has integrated buttons similar to what Apple has done. While it still doesn't function as well as dedicated buttons it is one of the nicer ones on the market thanks to its larger size but has the drawback of accidental movements of the cursor if you aren't careful while typing.
As with the new ultrabooks and the Apple MacBook Airs, the Samsung relies on a 128GB solid state drive for its storage. While this does limit the amount of space that the laptop can use for storing programs, data and media files, it more than makes up for it with its performance. This is particularly true when the laptop is cold booted or woken up from sleep. It is just as quick as Apple's system when doing both of these and rivals that found in most new ultrabooks.
The display for the Samsung Series 9 is one of the big selling points. It uses the typical 13.3-inch display size found in most ultraportables but it offers a higher brightness. Add to this a anti-glare coating and the screen is a joy to work with in more difficult lighting conditions such as outdoors that the glass covered display of the MacBook Air has major problems with. What is more disappointing is that Samsung didn't try to push a higher resolution than the default 1366x768 found on the majority of laptops. Apple offers a slightly higher 1440x900 while the ASUS Zenbook UX31 packs an amazing 1600x900. Of course, you can always display the video wirelessly to a HDTV thanks to the support for WiDi when used with an external receiver box.
Samsung claims that the Series 9 laptops can achieve up to seven hours of running time with its lithium polymer battery pack. This is not as high as the claims of some of the other ultrabooks on the market. In video streaming playback tests, the system was able to run for just over four and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is well below what most of the newer ultrabooks and even the MacBook Air can achieve. Now, more typical usage should yield more time but it probably won't achieve the seven hours that Samsung claims.
The average laptop on the market comes with a fairly typical one year warranty. Samsung is trying to emphasis the durability of their new Series 9 laptops by providing the laptops with a very long three year warranty. Now the longer warranties are fairly typical of business class laptops which Samsung is trying to market but it is nice to see this even over the standard one year that Apple provides with their MacBook Air.