Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/11/review_samsung_series9_np900x4c/

Review: Samsung Series 9 super slim notebook

An ideal Win 7 machine, get it while you can

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Laptops, 11th December 2012 12:19 GMT

Samsung has taken an expensive legal hit from Apple over copying design elements in the iPhone. Yet with the Series 9, Samsung has created something a bit special. The entire Ultrabook concept took its inspiration from the Apple MacBook Air, of course. But Samsung's Series 9 has developed a confident design language of its own.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

A process of refinement: Samsung's Series 9

The Series 9 Core i5 model I used – NP900X4C, to be precise – doesn't leave you much change from 900 quid if you shop around, but it is greatly improved over the model I tried almost a year ago. Indeed, it lays to rest any qualms that 'Ultrabook' inevitably means underpowered and overpriced, as you do get considerable oomph for your money.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

Blessed with a higher resolution display

The display has been upgraded too, notching up a 1600 x 900 resolution which is a welcome sight after years of 1366 x 768 screens. The specific model inspected here uses an Intel 1.7GHz Core i5-3317U, running Windows 7 Home Premium. Since you'll want to retain your sanity, this is obviously the one to go for, as the Charge of the Metro Brigade is now upon us.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

It's no Unibody, but it looks the business

This 900X model, like its predecessor, also uses the sandblasted aluminium material with a wave-style design that resembles, but isn't, an Apple unibody enclosure. In fact, there are actually ten screws holding a bottom plate in place. Gone are the unforgivingly sharp edges I found made the previous incarnation, the 900X3A, somewhat uncomfortable to use. These are no sharper than an Apple machine.

A process of refinement

There are other changes. The most important peripheral ports are no longer hidden by a door - the USB, mini-Ethernet, HDMI, USB and audio ports are always accessible, on the left of the machine. A nice touch is the mini to regular Ethernet adapter included in the box. A bay-style housing is still present, used to cover the SD card slot when it's not in use.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

Port covers are out...

Software includes a backup program, a configuration manager, and Samsung's Fast Boot. Which does what it says on the tin: bringing you to the login screen in around 10 seconds. The only nagware is Norton's anti-virus software.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

...easy access is in

Battery life was terrific in real life, giving over 5:30, and typically well over 6 hours in real-life usage, with WiFi on. The display is, as you would expect from Samsung, quite splendid, and as close to matte as you can get these days without actually buying a ThinkPad.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

One of the thinnest 15in ultraportables you can buy

The only let down is the keyboard. This is fine by any other standards - but it has a rather tinselly feel, and in such an otherwise well-made machine, was a little incongruous. I should stress, I've used many worse keyboards. And I did like the illuminated indicator light inside the keys for CapsLock and Wi-Fi. Why has it taken laptop manufacturers 30 years to include this on laptops, when regular keyboards have had this for so long?

Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C

If Windows 8 worries you, this Windows 7 model is worth seeking out

Verdict

All in all, the Series 9 is a very well made laptop, with many small but significant improvements made over a year. The question remains – do you want to throw approaching a grand at a 15in laptop when you can get one cheaper? When I posed that question a year ago, those willing to make the investment appeared to be professionals who need to make a statement: a salesman or business owner pitching for some big contract. But it's a question that's much easier to answer this year: the matte-ish expansive screen, slimness and excellent construction make it a very good piece of kit with a broader appeal. Even more so with Windows 8 coming in, so it's worth shopping around for a bargain. ®