Samsung Series 9 900X3A laptop
The almost Ultrabook
Review Samsung’s Series 9 is the Korean giant’s thin and light flagship, and one of several recent models to come to market that borrow engineering and design principles from Apple’s Air range. Which means decent performance, decent components, but minimal expansion.
Slim and stylish: Samsung's Series 9
This machine has a price tag to match the Air, but fortunately, turns out to be an extremely well-engineered laptop with none of the usual rough edges. Just sharp ones, as we’ll see. So what does £1,099 buy you? Surprisingly, quite a lot – but this is emphatically not a machine with expansion in mind.
There are four ports: mini-Ethernet, mini-HDMI, a USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0, plus a microSD card slot. If you’re using regular HDMI, Ethernet and SD cards that’s a lot of dongles to carry around with you and (potentially) lose. Samsung seems pretty coy about this on the website.
The casing is entirely aluminium, sculpted into a wave, which is quite striking. If you can get used to the sharp edges, this is a comfortable machine to carry, particularly since it weighs in at 1.3kg and is 16mm at its thickest.
Ports are tucked away behind a flap
Visually, the Series 9 has one of the very best displays in its class, a 13.3in SuperBright Plus LED for which Samsung claims 400 nits. It's touted as a matt screen, which I suppose it is, relatively speaking - being much less glossy than the norm.
Next page: Putting on a display
USB3 = Ubiquitous and backwards compatible, cheap peripherals
Thunderbolt = Rare, expensive peripherals.
Your magic do it all on one thunderbolt and lightening box will sadly come with a very very frightening price tag because of all the output chips needed, docking stations have never been cheap and as a result not many people own one.
Ideally of course you'd have both USB3 and Thunderbolt, but where do you draw the line, why not add Firewire, Serial, Parallel, Fibre Channel, eSATA, SAS, SCSI? The answer is because in a very tiny/slim/stylish system design choices have to be carefully balanced, compromises made, and to most of the general population a USB3 port is vastly more useful. Strange as it may seem to you most laptops are not bought by power users like us... there is a whole world full of lesser folk out there, and they like the shiny shiny too!
Re: Lets see...
"Clone in almost every respect to an air, including the price."
Not quite. The air has a faster processor (1.7 GHz vs 1.6 GHz Core i5) and a superior screen (1440x900 vs 1366 x 768 native resolution).
Really puts into perspective the "Apple is overpriced" nonsense so prevalent on this and other boards.
Samsung are late to the party and offer a product that is not as good value for money. So, par for the course then!
I love this Samsung laptop. I never ever booted the preinstalled Windows on it, but went for Ubuntu right away. Never before had a laptop that would boot up to the login screen in less than 10 seconds (takes about 8 sec from power on, and I don't mean a resume, but a real power on). I don't do much graphics, but for what I do it's super fast.
The things I like most about it:
- the display is so bright (and matte), it is easily useable in bright daylight and even sunlight (ok, resolution could be better...)
- the keyboard is awesome for a device that size. I really type a lot, and the keyboard is superb.
- it's fast, and it's silent. the fan is rarely noticeable at all (and I have seen other laptops running Linux that sound like a vacuum cleaner on an idle system - and even worse for Windows)
What's a bit annoying is that you need those dongles if you want to connect VGA or RJ45. But I bought a port replicator connected through USB, which connects all my devices. It even supports VGA over USB, which I haven't tried yet (hope I get it working for Linux as well).