Many manufacturers are trying to equal Apple when it comes to the thinnest and lightest laptop out there, a performance that Apple succeeded with their MacBook Air. If you ask me, an extra inch or 100 grams are not that important if you feel comfortable with your machine, but for many people it’s a prerequisite when shopping for a laptop.
And Samsung tries to (in sentence rhyme alert) feed that need with their latest Series 9 entry, a very thin and light 13.3 inch laptop (a smaller 11.6 inch version is available as well). We have a review with this feathery machine, so stay tuned and find out if it’s worth your while or if you should just flip the page thin laptop away.
First off, let’s take a look at the specs of the laptop
- Display: 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768
- CPU: Inte Core i5 2537M, 1.4 GHZ
- Video card: integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
- System memory: up to 8 GB DDR3 RAM
- Storage: 128 GB SSD
- Connectivity: WiFi and blue tooth
- Ports: 2 X USB 2.0, micro SD card slot, USB 3.0, HDMI port, Ethernet, lock slot
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
- weight: 2.88 pounds
The specs are pretty impressive, considering that the laptop is only 0.64 inch thick. The presence of a USB 3.0 port and SSD are cool and classy additions in comparison with more mainstream laptops.
Design and construction
The Series 9 is definitely a looker. It’s very slim and robust, resembling a piece of an alien spaceship or something. The laptop is made from a material called duralumin, which is an alloy usually used for building air planes. The material is not at all heavy, but it’s very resistant and has a high density. That’s why if you hold it it feels light as a feather, but almost impossible to break.
Also, the hinges feel very rigid, in comparison with many laptops. You won’t be able to open the lid with one finger- and there’s a good chance you’ll get a razor type cut if you’ll insist. Joking a little, you could definitely use the laptop as a weapon, as the sharp edges seem able to do some damage. The design is not all metal, as some parts on the base and around the screen are made from plastic.
It’s a glossy touch, but as all things glossy, those sections will attract fingerprints rather easily. The laptop weights only 2.8 pounds, being a little lighter than the MacBook Air (2.9 pounds) and has roughly the same dimensions as Apple’s thinnest, but on the sides you get that weird, wave like finish we’ve seen on several Samsung netbooks, like the NF310.
Keyboard and touch pad
The keyboard is chiclet, a standard Samsung used before. The keys themselves are pretty big and there’s enough space between them in order to avoid typos, but they feel kind of flat when pressed. Nevertheless, they are silent and have a good feedback and typing will be the least of your problems on the 9 Series. The keyboard also has backlighting, which might be very useful if you find yourself typing in the dark. There’s also the option to turn it off in order to save battery life.
The touch pad is very smooth on the finger, having a matte finish and resembling the experience on Apple touch pads. The touch pad supports multi touch gestures with up to 4 fingers (although it’s really difficult to have 4 fingers on it at once), as well as swiping through apps like on a tablet. This welcomed versatility comes at a price, though, as the surface will quite often wrongly interpret gestures and the cursor might go its own way- most of the time, somewhere else than you wanted.
The 13.3 inch screen has a pretty standard 1366 x 768 resolution, but within the mainstream standard Samsung designed a very enjoyable screen. It has great colours, as well as very good viewing angles when looking at it from a side or from an extreme angle. Plus, the screen is matte, which means it won’t attract that much light and you’ll be able to use it outdoors also.
Hardware and performances
The Samsung Series 9 has a 1.4 GHZ Core i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM and has a 128 GB SSD. The setup is faster than the one on the Macbook Air (powered by a Core2Duo CPU and 2 GB of RAM), but we know that iOS can deliver smooth performance on less stellar hardware. The SSD is much faster than usual hard disk drives and takes in less power, but the downside is that it’s smaller than traditional hard disks and a little more expensive.
In terms of performance, the laptop was able to cope with HD playback, multitasking and the likes without a problem. Local and streamed hi res content played without a glitch, but the integrated Intel graphics is less prolific when it comes to gaming. You’ll either have to play with low settings or go through low frame rates- neither seem like a great choice.
The laptop has a feature called Fast Start, which puts the machine in a deep sleep when you close the lid. This saves energy and doesn’t shut down the system completely. When reopened, the laptop took about 6 seconds to be up and running again and even less if there were no programs initiated prior to going to sleep.
Connectivity and ports
The ports on the Samsung Series 9 are protected by some hatches and are positioned toward the end, where the design is a little thicker. On the left you’ll find mini Ethernet, mini HDMI and a USB 3.0 port (which is chargeable). On the right, there are headphone and mic jacks, USB 2.0 and a miniSD slot.
Heat, noise, speakers and others
The laptop keeps it cool for most of the time, as the area that gets the most heat is the bottom. On the sides and palm rests, the temperatures were decent, but maybe the centre of the keyboard was a little too hot at times (usually after playing a video or running some intensive apps). Noise was not too much of an issue, and most of the noise from the fans can be easily covered with chatter or light radio music. I guess the dense build material has its saying in this.
Sound wise, the two little speakers are pretty loud, but lack quality. More complex sounds are kind of indistinct and bass sequences are just painful to hear. Still, if you’re thinking about using the speakers only for video calls and the occasional video, you’re all set.
The Samsung Series 9 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and has almost no bloatware. There’s only a trial for an antivirus you can easily get rid off and some games. Additionally, there are some pretty useful Samsung proprietary functions available, including a Control Centre, which grants access to some important functions regarding battery life and connectivity.
Battery is pretty average on the laptop, meaning you get about 5 hours and a half when just browsing and doing simple stuff. Of course, if you’ll go for something like HD content or gaming, expect the juice to run out after only 3 or 4 hours.
Pricing and availability
The Samsung Series 9 costs $1649 with 4G of RAM and there’s no offer for a 8 GB variant; if you want to upgrade, you’ll have to manage that yourself. Alternatively, there’s a $1699 version, aimed more at business people, which packs Windows 7 Professional and a WIMAX card.
The Samsung Series 9 is a very classy and versatile computer, being probably the lightest 13.3 inch computer out there and probably also the thinnest in its class. It has great hardware and is utterly enjoyable to use, but comes at a pretty steep price and the battery is nothing very impressive. Still, this is not not style over substance; there’s plenty of both in order to satisfy everybody.