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Samsung Series 9 laptop review

Better than a Macbook Air
Wed Jun 22 2011, 16:23
Samsung Series 9

Product Samsung Series 9 900X3A
Specifications Intel Core i5 Processor 2537M 1.4GHz with 3MB cache, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 802.11bg/n 2 x 2 (MIMO), Intel HD Graphics 3000 with memory shared with system, 128GB SSD drive, 328.5x227x15.9-16.3mm, 1.31kg
Price £1,300 ex. VAT

EVEN NON-BRAINWASHED FREE-THINKERS have to admit that Apple's Macbook Air is a pretty amazing piece of equipment. It achieves the holy grail of being light, but still managing to have battery life measured in hours not minutes. It is, however, woefully underpowered and has depressingly few useful I/O ports.

Samsung's 900X3 ultra-slim laptop addresses such many of these problems by providing more useful I/O ports - although still too few for out tastes - and slightly better specifications, albeit for slightly more money than Apple's Macbook Air. You do get the benefit of USB 3.0 ports, though, and Samsung has opted for an HDMI output rather than Displayport.

On the series 9 you get an Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.4Ghz and 4GB of RAM. Storage is handled by a 128GB SSD and graphics powered by an integrated Intel GPU.

As easy as it is for us to hate the Macbook Air, Apple deserves at least a little credit for making its PCs boot very quickly. Samsung has used similar battery enhancing techniques here too. Shut the lid, and the Series 9 goes to sleep quickly to save power. It might sound simple, but Windows-based PCs fudge the all-important sleep-mode all too often.

Reduced Boot Time
The 900X scores very well when it comes to boot time. From being off to loading Windows can take as little as 15 seconds. This is thanks to good hardware specifications, and no doubt that fast, silent SSD. Solid state drives might push up the price, but when you've used a PC with one, we think you'll be sold on their advantages.

Another area where Samsung has gone after Apple, but with much less success, is with its trackpad. As with the Macbook Air, there are no buttons on the Series 9. Instead, mouse clicks are achieved by pressing the trackpad. Mac users will know this works well on Apple hardware because there is no right click mandated by the operating system. Microsoft, on the other hand, makes quite extensive use of this feature, so Samsung has opted to have the right hand side of the pad act as the right click and the the left performs a left click. Sadly, this just doesn't work when you want to 'right click' on something that you've moved the cursor left to get to. An idiotic decision in our view.

samsung series 9 trackpad

There's a backlit keyboard too, handy if you do a lot of typing in the dark. Typing on this keyboard is also a pleasant experience, with the island-style keys well positioned and large enough for bigger fingers.

Battery Removal Requires An Engineer
The 900X has a pretty wild estimate of how long it can power the laptop from its built-in battery. From a 100 per cent charge, the machine thought it could manage six hours. But after about 15 minutes we discovered that it had rethought that and dropped its claim to five hours. In fact, users will probably see battery life of between four and five hours. This was borne out by our Battery Eater Pro tests, which managed 5 hours 31 minutes in the "reader" test mode. Our tests using the more intense "classic" test on Battery Eater had the Samsung holding on for 2 hours 25 minutes. An excellent result, which should help people who need to do more on the move than just editing word documents.

It is also worth considering that the battery is not user-replaceable, another filthy trick learnt from Apple, no doubt. Getting it out will most likely require a Samsung engineer or some warranty voiding process.

Screen Time
The LCD screen on this laptop is backlit by LEDs. This means that the lid is incredibly thin and the screen very bright, something it manages without murdering the battery life. It also has impressive sharpness and detail and is a very readable screen. This is very important when it comes to spending a lot of time working, and crucial for reducing eye strain.

There is a 1.3MP webcam embedded in the lid, which will enable you to make video calls, or participate in 2010's Chat Roulette. There's a small microphone embedded near the power button too, so you shouldn't need to use any extra hardware to get up and running.



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