Samsung Series 9 review

Samsung takes on Apple at its own game, but the Series 9’s slender physique comes at a serious cost

4
Price when reviewed 
1,300

Page 1 of 2 Samsung Series 9 review

In the world of high-end ultraportables, few Windows laptops can rival Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s an exclusive club: Sony's VAIO Z Series and Dell’s now defunct Adamo have provided stiff competition in the past, but few have perfected the formula. Now, it’s Samsung’s turn to see if its Series 9 ultraportable (part code: NP-900X3A-A01UK) is worthy of the luxury laptop crown.

If there’s one area where Samsung’s Series 9 really hits the mark, it’s the jaw-dropping first impression. It’s not quite as stunningly thin as the MacBook Air, but at barely 17mm thick it’s as slim and svelte as notebooks come. What’s all the more amazing, then, is that it’s just a smidgen lighter than Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air. At 1.32kg, this is the very definition of an ultraportable.

Tumble it in the hands, and the attention to detail is impressive. Samsung touts the fact the chassis is hewn from Duralumin – a tough alloy more commonly used in the aeronautic industry – and it certainly feels pretty sturdy given the barely-there weight. It’s not as unyieldingly taut as Apple’s MacBook Air, though; grappling with the Series 9 is enough to see the lid and base flex a little to and fro.

It might struggle to match the Apple for rigidity, but ergonomically it’s right on target. The soft-feeling Scrabble-tile keys feel just as luxurious as those on the MacBook Air, but we preferred the Series 9’s more spacious layout and full-width Enter key. The multitouch touchpad also tries to emulate Apple’s glass offering. The whole surface acts as one giant button; two-fingered taps mimic a right click and four-fingered swipes in different directions swap between applications, show the desktop or activate the Flip 3D feature.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A - front

It’s seriously quick for an ultraportable, too. With a low-voltage Intel Core i5-2537M processor allied with a 128GB SSD, the Series 9 feels far faster than you’d expect. From a cold start, the Windows desktop appears in just 20 seconds, and applications spring into life with nary a delay. With an overall score of 0.43 in our benchmarks, the Samsung’s clearly no slouch.

Page 1 of 2 Samsung Series 9 review

Warranty

Warranty2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions329 x 227 x 17mm (WDH)
Weight1.320kg
Travelling weight1.5kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2537M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM65
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity128GB
Hard disk usable capacity119GB
Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSamsung MZMPA128HMFU
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical drivenone
Battery capacity6,300mAh

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)1
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationLeft and right-hand edges
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 35min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 29min
3D performance (crysis) low settings13fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.43
Responsiveness score0.52
Media score0.46
Multitasking score0.32

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

Read more about