Samsung, which has steadily become the leader of the pack in the Android mobility space, is looking to get the same dominance in the PC space, and with its latest Series 9 laptop it has got one hell of a weapon on its hands.
Last year Samsung released an ultraportable laptop before Intel's Ultrabook specification was fully adopted. While it was a good starting point, the previous Series 9 laptop was sluggish and had a poor battery life, I recommended that readers hold off until the middle of this year for Samsung's Ultrabooks. Those who have will be rewarded handsomely by Samsung's latest offering.
The June 2012 model of the Series 9 has the same aerofoil shape as the old one, and in keeping with the aeronautics theme, is once again built with the lightweight duralumin aluminium. The size and shape of the Series 9 is roughly the same as an A4 sheet of paper, and while not quite paper thin, at only 13mm it is one of the thinnest laptops I've ever used.
The build quality of the shell is excellent, and the hinge between the screen lid and the main body has a smooth motion to it and feels sturdy.
The Series 9 is sparse when it comes to adapters and ports, but what it does have will be useful for most business users including two USB drives (one USB 3.0), micro HDMI, and a headphone jack. A clever little flap on the underside hides the SD card slot, which helps prevent dust from clogging up the connectors.
Missing is a dedicated Ethernet port to connect the laptop to your network by wire. For consumers wi-fi will most likely be the default gateway to the internet, but for those like myself who need to use Ethernet cables to access the internet at the office there is an Ethernet port accessory which comes in the box.
Pixel density in laptop screens wasn't a big issue until Apple made it one with its Retina displays. The Series 9's LED screen is still impressive without the Retina-level marketing. Lights in the back panel make it bright, and the colours displayed on the screen are vibrant. The screen doesn't use glass and is instead matte, which means there is much less glare to deal with under bright lights and outdoors.
The keyboard is very responsive, even if the keys are a little shallow. The trackpad on the other hand feels a bit sluggish, the movement of the cursor is always just a nanosecond too slow.
The Series 9 is snappy. Its 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor combined with the 128GB solid state hard drive means it goes from being turned off to displaying your desktop in around 8 seconds. The laptop has 4GB of DDR 3 RAM, with a maximum of 8GB.
I've run image editing software and video editing software on the Series 9 and it's handled both with moderate success, but it all gets a bit bogged down when you start tasking the system by adding web browsing with Flash and Skype in the background too.
I definitely wouldn't recommend using the Series 9 as a gaming laptop, at least not without a dedicated cooling unit. After an hour or so of moderate use the Series 9 heats up significantly. The fans on the underside are very quiet and understated, but the catch seems to be they are very ineffective at cooling the computer after long periods of use. I've found myself having to put the Series 9 aside on several occasions to let it cool down before using it again.
Possibly the best aspect of the Series 9 is its battery life and efficiency. With brightness at 80 percent and doing minor image editing and mostly web browsing over wi-fi, I was able to get five or six hours of use out of the laptop. This is short of the seven hours Samsung says the Series 9 is capable of, but plenty for me to use while working remotely.
The lowest price price for the Series 9 on PriceSpy is around $1900. This is a bit on the steep side, but if you're looking for a stylish, light, and very capable Windows laptop and have the money the Samsung Series 9 will fit the bill perfectly.
4 and a half stars
Dimensions: 313.8 x 218.5 x 12.9mm
Display: 13.3 inches LED, 1,600 x 900 pixels
Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM
Operating System: Windows Home Premium
PriceSpy Price: $1900
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