Thursday, April 14, 2011

Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) laptop review

Samsung Series 9
Samsung Series 9
Samsung Series 9
Samsung Series 9
Back at CES, Samsung pulled out quite a few surprises, and no, we're not referring to its Zoll-infused press conference -- although, that performance still gives us the willies. Of all the Korean company's announcements at the show, which we'll remind you included an impressive new LTE phone and range ofSmartTVs, it was its Series 9 laptop that left us the most stunned.
And well, a glance at that picture above should explain why we found ourselves counting down the days until its March launch date. The 2.8-pound system is a complete and total 180 from Samsung's typical bulky mainstream systems, yet its 0.64-inch thick chassis still crams in quite a bit of horsepower with a Core i5-2537M processor, a 128GB SSD, and 4GB of RAM. It's also built from some of the toughest stuff on earth, has a backlit keyboard,and an incredibly high quality 400 nit LCD. You see, the $1,699 machine teeters on having the absolute perfect balance of beauty and brawn, and certainty has the core ingredients to compete with that otherextremely popular and super thin ultraportable -- but when you get it home and out of its fancy box, does it truly have the chops? Or is this just yet another rail thin and expensive Windows laptop that falls short? The time has come to find out – hit the break for our full review.

We're just going to come out and say it: the Series 9 is one of the most striking laptops we've ever seen. Unlike the Dell Adamo and the Sony VAIO X, which both seemed to try too hard to look like Apple's MacBook Air, the Series 9's deep black case and sharp angled edges give it a seriously distinct look. And it's one of sophistication and simplicity, if you ask us. The entire dark chassis may seem basic and highly minimalistic, but there are small intricacies like the chrome borders, hidden port covers, and wave-shaped hinges that just make this thing feel more like a computing piece of art than a basic bargain-basement PC. But beyond the aesthetics, the system just feels great in hand. The duralumin build, which is the same stuff used in airplane construction, feels insanely solid, and there's absolutely no bend to the top half of the chassis. Unfortunately, the bottom feels like it's made of plastic, though Samsung tells us it's made of a powder coated aluminum. Still, the metal lid and palmrest are very soft, and believe us, you won't be able to resist petting the surface. However, beware of fingerprint streaks -- specifically, the palmrest gets covered pretty quickly, though thankfully, Samsung includes a cloth in its high-end box.

But, of course, the first thing everybody notices about the 9 is its insanely thin profile. Yes, it's one reallythin and light machine, and in terms of numbers, it comes extremely close to rivaling the MacBook Air. Samsung claims the Series 9 weighs 2.88 pounds and measures 0.62 to 0.64-inches thick. In comparison, the Air tips the scales to 2.9 pounds and is 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68 at its thickest. Still, the differences are as minimal in person as they are on paper -- while the Series 9 does seem slightly thicker in hand, it's really not a difference you'd notice everyday, and just like the Air, picking it up off your lap or table requires little to no muscle.

Samsung was able to find a home for quite a few ports on the svelte system as well. The left port cover pulls down to reveal one USB 3.0 port, a mini HDMI socket, and a jack for the included Ethernet adapter. The one on the right hides a USB port 2.0, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It's a decent lineup, we just wish Samsung had gone with a regular SD card slot. Oh, and those worried that the port covers would retract when the system is sitting on the table will be happy to know that it isn't an issue.

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