Samsung’s Series 9 ultra-slim notebook

There’s been a lot of talk lately about ultrabooks—a new category of laptops that’s supposed to be slimmer than 0.8″ and cost less than $1,000. The problem is, those systems are still nowhere to be found. Intel indicated that ultrabooks would be out in time for the holiday shopping rush, and while some manufacturers have promised machines later this month, none are available quite yet.

So, what does one buy if on the market for an ultra-slim laptop right now?

One could turn to the dark side, put on a coat, hat, and sunglasses, and head to a local Apple store to purchase a MacBook Air. Of course, that would mean having to either deal with Mac OS X or shell out additional cash for a copy of Windows 7 and installing it via Boot Camp. The Air has no optical drive, so that Windows installer would need to be on a USB stick. And then there’s the danger of feeling slightly dirty for having joined Apple’s empire of glass, aluminum, and white plastic. That all sounds like a lot of trouble.

There is another way. Samsung currently offers the Series 9, a notebook very much like the 13″ MacBook Air, minus the fruit logo and feline-themed operating system. The Series 9 starts at the same price as the 13″ Air ($1299 at Newegg), and it’s about as light and as slender. The internal specs are similar, too, at least for the base model, which features a low-voltage Sandy Bridge processor with Intel HD 3000 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive.

The Series 9 even looks rather good, at least for a machine that didn’t come out of Jony Ive’s design studio. Like many upscale Windows laptops, this one features a combination of plastic and metal: plastic for the underbelly and metal for the display lid and palm rest. Instead of plain aluminum, Samsung used duralumin, an aluminum alloy hardened with copper, manganese, and magnesium. Samsung boasts that duralumin is “twice the strength of aluminum, despite being light in weight.” TR’s Editor in Chief tells me I’m not allowed to file an expense report for a MacBook Air, a second Series 9, and a sledgehammer, so that claim will unfortunately not be tested in this review.

Tougher or not, the Series 9 compares well to the MacBook Air in terms of slenderness and portability. The Samsung’s chassis doesn’t have a tapered front edge like the Air’s, but it’s actually thinner at its thickest point (0.65″ vs. 0.68″ for the Air). The Series 9 also tips the scales at slightly less than the Air’s 2.96 lbs, although of course, both systems are considerably lighter than typical 13″ laptops. Heck, a lot of 10″ netbooks weigh more than three pounds, and the 13″ MacBook Pro is a comparatively elephantine 4.5 lbs.

Naturally, the slim form factor involves some compromises, particularly when it comes to hardware capabilities and connectivity. The Series 9 uses a low-voltage Sandy Bridge processor that runs at just 1.4GHz, and there are only two USB ports available on the sides of the machine. One of those ports is of the SuperSpeed variety, though.

Processor Intel Core i5-2537M 1.4GHz
Memory 8GB DDR3-1333 (2 DIMMs)
Chipset Intel HM65 Express
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000
Display 13.3″ TFT with 1366×768 resolution and LED backlight
Storage Samsung MZ8PA256HMDR 256GB solid-state drive
Audio HD audio via Realtek codec
Ports 1 USB 3.0

1 USB 2.0

1 mini-HDMI

1 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via Realtek controller

1 analog headphone/microphone output

Expansion slots 1 microSD
Communications 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230

Bluetooth 3.0

Input devices Chiclet keyboard

Synaptics ClickPad

Internal microphone

Camera 1.3-megapixel webcam
Dimensions 12.9″ x 8.9″ x 0.62-0.64″ (328 x 226 x 16 mm)
Weight 2.88 lbs (1.3 kg)
Battery 6-cell Li-ion 6300 mAh

This is as good a time as any to mention that the Series 9 we received in our labs is a bit different from the base, $1299 model. Both offerings have nearly identical specifications, but our sample has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, while its sibling features exactly half as much memory and storage capacity. Our benchmarks are almost all bound by CPU and graphics performance, so the numbers you see in the next few pages should provide a reasonably reliable (albeit inexact) indication of the base model’s performance.

Now for caveat number two: the particular model we have is, as far as we can tell, only available in Canada. Its closest U.S. relative seems to be this variant, which serves up 6GB of RAM with a 256GB SSD and will set you back $2049.99. Again, the extra RAM shouldn’t really make a difference in our tests. The only truly palpable distinction is the funky bilingual keyboard that ships with the Canadian laptop. You’ll see what we mean on the next page.

Now that the boring stuff’s out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the Series 9—and see if it has brains to match its good looks.

The display and controls

Looking at the spec sheet for the Series 9, you’d be be tempted to think there’s nothing remarkable about its 13.3″, 1366×768 display. And you’d be wrong. Upon lifting the machine’s lid, you’ll notice that the display has a matte finish. Yes, this is one of those blessed few screens that doesn’t double as a vanity mirror in the presence of sunlight. Samsung has outfitted the Series 9 with an uncannily powerful backlight, as well, giving the display an impressive 400 cd/m² brightness rating.

Put together, those attributes translate into crisp, bright colors unhindered by pesky reflections. The backlight is so bright that you may want to turn it down a couple notches.

The Series 9’s display has surprisingly good horizontal viewing angles, but tilting it too far back or forward will induce noticeable color shift. That means Samsung has likely used a TN panel—although I’m guessing it’s a cut above the rank and file, if the image quality is any indication.

You’re looking at a bilingual Canadian keyboard, so don’t mind that large enter key. The U.S. version of the Series 9 has a good ol’, down-home, flat enter key, just like George Washington intended. (The left shift key is the right size, too, and everything else is as it should be. Don’t worry.)

Although it’s a little hard to tell in the picture above, the metal used for the palm rest doesn’t extend into the keyboard. Samsung surrounds the keys with a slab of glossy black plastic. Such design decisions never cease to amaze us here at TR. Keyboards are made to be touched, and glossy black plastic is one of the world’s most potent fingerprint magnets. Keyboards with glossy bezels are guaranteed to look disgusting within minutes of use.

The Series 9’s keyboard has backlighting. No matter how you shake it, keyboard backlights are just plain cool—not to mention very handy if you happen to be using the laptop in a dimly lit environment. Touch typists may scoff at the notion, but even the most seasoned might occasionally need help locating, say, the volume up and down keys.

In terms of size, here’s how the Series 9’s keyboard compares to our full-sized reference keyboard, which has traditional, non-chiclet keys:

  Total keyboard area Alpha keys
  Width Height Area Width Height Rough area
Size 279 mm 104 mm 29,016 mm² 168 mm 51 mm 8,568 mm²
Versus full size 97% 95% 92% 98% 89% 87%

I believe this is known in computer parlance as a “pretty much normal chiclet keyboard.” For the record, the distance from the left of the A key to the right of the L key is essentially identical between the Series 9’s keyboard and Apple’s desktop chiclet keyboard.

While the Apple keyboard is pretty solid, the one on the Series 9 exhibits quite a bit of flex. The flex gives typing a sort of mushy, rubbery feel, a bit like kneading dough or giving your date a backrub. Neither of those activities are unpleasant per se, but firm, consistent tactile feedback makes long writing sessions much more comfortable. Unfortunately, the Series 9 doesn’t deliver that.

I was more impressed with the touchpad—one of Synaptic’s ClickPad units, which turns the touch-sensitive surface into a button via a hinge at the top. This design’s coefficient of friction feels just right, and the surface area is large enough to allow for swanky multi-touch gestures. Users can scroll with two fingers, flick with three, and even swipe up with four fingers to switch between applications with Aero Flip. As far as PC touchpads go, this might be one of the best. Holding down the button while moving the cursor doesn’t always seem to work reliably, though, so drag-and-drop operations can take a couple of tries. This particular touchpad seems better suited to tap-to-click mode than to traditional clicking.

Connectivity and expansion

The Series 9’s slender frame comes with some trade-offs on the connectivity front. Some ports ended up on the chopping block, and access to the others has been somewhat compromised to safeguard the system’s aesthetic.

Out of the box, the notebook’s sides both look barren, save for the AC power port on the left. Accessing the rest of the Series 9’s ports involves opening flaps on the sides of the machine. If those flaps look familiar, it’s because Apple used them on the original MacBook Air. (The latest Air models have flat sides with ports positioned on them normally, though.)

The left flap plays host to a SuperSpeed USB port, a slim Ethernet port (which requires an adapter to accommodate regular RJ45 connectors), and a mini HDMI port. On the right side, you’ll find a vanilla USB 2.0 port, a dual-function stereo/microphone port, and a microSD card slot. The Ethernet adapter looks like so:

The notebook does feel smooth and sexy with the ports hidden from view. However, the flaps are recessed pretty deep, so opening them with the system sitting on a table can prove difficult. Unless you have particularly thin and agile fingers, or uncannily long fingernails, you may want to lift up the front of the laptop and pull the flaps open from below. That can get annoying when you need to plug in something rapidly.

Much like the MacBook Air, the Series 9 doesn’t look like it was designed to be user-serviceable. The machine’s belly features three exposed screws, but the other screws seem to be hidden under the two back feet. This unit is a loaner, and since even insistent tugging failed to unseat the rubber feet, I left the innards of the machine unexplored. Considering even the base model packs 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, I’m guessing most folks won’t feel the upgrade itch. Some may lament the lack of a user-swappable battery, though.

Speaking of power delivery, the Series 9’s power adapter is also worthy of note. Instead of the usual arrangement—a power-supply brick with a length of cable on either side—the Series 9’s adapter takes after the Apple design, with only one length of cable on one side and and a detachable plug on the other. The detachable plug latches onto the adapter with the same type of three-pin connector as typical laptop AC power cables, so nothing stops you from grabbing one of those and using it to extend the Series 9’s wired roaming area. Samsung doesn’t bundle a cable of that type with the machine, though—an odd choice, since Apple does provide an extra length of cable with its MagSafe power adapters.

Mercifully, though, the Series 9’s power brick is small and light. Our postal scale reported a weight of exactly six ounces, or 169 grams. As you can tell from the size of the adapter relative to the power plug in the photo above, the thing’s easy to stow away.

Pre-installed software

Laptops that come pre-loaded with oodles of useful and not-so-useful software are, unfortunately, a fact of life these days. As part of our refreshed laptop test suite, we’re taking a closer look at just how much bloatware comes with each system. The boot time measurements later in this review will help highlight the performance impact of some of that bloat, too. For now, let’s see what this laptop comes with fresh out of the box.

At first boot, the Samsung Series 9 doesn’t look too intimidating. You might get a Norton Internet Security pop-up, but the desktop isn’t packed with icons. There are just four along with the recycle bin: an interactive video reel that showcases the system, a shortcut to the Samsung Supper Center, and links to the notebook’s user guide and a feedback page.

Don’t let that clean desktop fool you, though. Opening the Uninstall control panel shows plenty of trialware and miscellaneous pre-installed applications to go around, from the Bing Bar and Skype to an Office 2010 trial and, of course, the infamous Norton Internet Security.

Some of the pre-installed software is worth keeping around. For example, Samsung’s Update Plus application lets users keep the system’s software and drivers up to date with a single interface. Not all laptops ship with auto-update software, and those that do don’t always come with applications that are this well designed.

Hitting FN+F1 brings up the Control Center, a handy little applet that allows users to quickly enable or disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, adjust the keyboard’s backlight, and… well, the functions are perfectly legible in the screenshot above. You get the idea.

Our testing methods

We’ve run a great many laptops through our test suite, so for the sake of informativeness (and entertainment), we’ve included all the results in the graphs on the following pages. To make things readable, we’ve greyed out the results for everything but the Series 9. None of the notebooks we’ve tested are direct competitors for the Samsung system, so rather than forcing a false comparison, we thought we’d include the other data merely to provide a frame of reference.

We tested the Series 9 using Samsung’s default “optimized” battery profile, which limits the CPU to 50% of its maximum speed when unplugged. Because that setting is sure to affect performance, we also benchmarked the Series 9 running at full speed while drawing power from a wall socket.

Before we go forward, we should talk about the other machines we tested in more than one state. The N82Jv, U33Jc, Eee PC 1015PN, and T235D were all tested using special “battery-saving” profiles, and the N82Jv, U33Jc, and 1015PN were run in “high-performance” mode, too. With the N82Jv, we recorded our battery-saving results with Asus’ Super Hybrid Engine on, which dropped the CPU clock speed from 2.4GHz to 0.9-1GHz depending on the load. The U33Jc also has a Super Hybrid Engine mode, but we didn’t enable it for testing. On the U33Jc, the high-performance profile included by Asus raises the maximum CPU clock speed from 2.4 to 2.57GHz. On the N82Jv, the same profile leaves the CPU running at default speeds, i.e. up to 2.66GHz when Turbo Boost kicks in. Finally, with the Eee PC, the low-power profile limits the CPU to about 1GHz and disables the Nvidia GPU, while the high-performance profile raises the CPU speed by a whole 25MHz.

With the exception of battery life, all tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of those runs.

System AMD A8-3500M test system Acer Aspire 1810TZ Acer Aspire 1830TZ Acer Aspire One 522 Asus Eee PC 1015PN Asus N82Jv Asus U33Jc HP Pavilion dm1z HP ProBook 6460b Intel Core i7-2820QM 17″ review notebook Samsung Series 9 (900X3A) Toshiba Satellite T235D-S1435
Processor AMD A8-3500M APU 1.5GHz Intel Pentium SU4100 1.3GHz Intel Pentium U5400 1.2GHz AMD C-50 1.0GHz Intel Atom N550 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-450M 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz AMD E-350 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-2820QM 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2537M 1.4GHz AMD Turion II Neo K625 1.5GHz
North bridge AMD A70M FCH Intel GS45 Express Intel HM55 Express AMD Hudson FCH Intel NM10 Intel HM55 Express Intel HM55 Express AMD Hudson FCH Intel HM65 Intel HM67 Express Intel HM65 Express AMD M880G
South bridge Intel ICH9 AMD SB820
Memory size 4GB 3GB (2 DIMMs) 3GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (1 DIMM) 1GB (1 DIMM) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 3GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB 4GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type DDR3 SDRAM DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 800MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 667MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 667MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 800MHz
Memory timings N/A 5-5-5-15 6-6-6-15 N/A 6-5-5-12 7-7-7-20 7-7-7-20 9-9-9-25 9-9-9-24 11-11-11-30 9-9-9-24 6-6-6-15
Audio IDT codec Realtek codec with 6.0.1.869 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6043 drivers Conexant codec with 8.41.0.0 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6186 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6024 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6029 drivers IDT codec with 6.10.6302.0 drivers IDT codec with 6.10.6328.0 drivers Conexant codec with 4.127.0.60 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6271 drivers Realtek codec with 6.0.1.6072 drivers
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6620G + AMD Radeon HD 6630M

with Catalyst 8.862 RC1 drivers

Intel GMA 4500MHD with 15.17.11.2202 drivers Intel HD Graphics with 8.15.10.2057 drivers AMD Radeon HD 6250 Intel GMA 3150 with 8.14.10.2117 drivers

Nvidia Ion with 8.17.12.5912 drivers

Intel HD Graphics with 8.15.10.2189 drivers

Nvidia GeForce 335M with 8.17.12.5896 drivers

Intel HD Graphics with 8.15.10.2119 drivers

Nvidia GeForce 310M with 8.17.12.5721 drivers

AMD Radeon HD 6310 with 8.821.0.0 drivers Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 8.15.10.2361 drivers Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 8.15.10.2246 drivers Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 8.15.10.2266 drivers AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4225 with 8.723.2.1000 drivers
Hard drive Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 250GB 7,200 RPM Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB 5,400-RPM Toshiba MK3265GSX 320GB 5,400 RPM Toshiba MK2565GSX 250GB 5,400 RPM Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB 5,400-RPM Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB 7,200-RPM Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB 5,400-RPM Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 320GB 7,200-RPM hard drive Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 320GB 7,200 RPM Intel X25-M G2 160GB solid-state drive 256GB Samsung MZ8PA256HMDR solid-state drive Toshiba MK3265GSX 320GB 5,400 RPM
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Windows 7 Starter x86 Windows 7 Starter x86 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1 Windows 7 Professional x64 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Windows 7 Professional x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64

We used the following versions of our test applications:

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Application performance
SunSpider JavaScript benchmark

The SunSpider benchmark is often used to test the JavaScript performance of different web browsers. Here, we’ve pressed it into service to see how different notebooks perform with the same version of Firefox (3.6.9).

We realize this is an old version of Firefox. However, the point of this benchmark is to compare web browsing performance across multiple systems, and we can do a good job of that now that we’ve accumulated a reasonable data set. Updating our test suite to the latest Firefox release might lower numbers across the board, but we’re not convinced it would alter the relative differences between systems. Also, the update would make competitive comparisons more difficult. We’ve had to return almost all of the laptops we’ve reviewed so far, so we can’t test them again.

The Series 9’s low processor clock speed doesn’t prove to be much of a handicap in this web browsing test. However, we see some some serious performance degradation when using the system’s “optimized” battery profile, which limits the CPU speed to 50% of its maximum.

7-Zip

7-Zip has a handy built-in benchmark that lets us test both compression and decompression performance.

x264 video encoding

The x264 video encoding benchmark doesn’t call on GPU resources to accelerate the encoding process, leaving us with a good look at how the various mobile CPUs stack up.

In these more CPU-intensive tests, the Series 9 falls in the middle of the pack, sandwiched between faster Sandy Bridge notebooks and smaller ultraportables. Again, the “optimized” battery profile hurts performance quite a bit.

TrueCrypt

This latest version of TrueCrypt makes use of the AES-NI instructions built into Intel’s Westmere and Sandy Bridge CPUs.

The Series 9 fares a little better in TrueCrypt than in the other tests. Only higher-voltage Sandy Bridge chips pull ahead.

Startup and wake times

For this round of tests, we busted out a stopwatch and timed how long it took for the notebooks to boot up. We started timing as soon as the power button was hit and stopped when the Windows 7 hourglass cursor went away.

And this, folks, is why solid-state drives are awesome. In spite of all the trialware and pre-installed tools residing on its system drive, the Series 9 boots faster than the rest of the bunch. (All of the other systems we tested were outfitted with mechanical hard drives.)

We normally conduct another test to measure how long each system takes to wake from hibernation. However, as far as we can see, the Series 9 has no manual hibernation setting—just sleep, shut down, and reboot. There are command-line workarounds for such an omission, but hibernation isn’t recommended with solid-state drives.

Gaming
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

We tested the original Modern Warfare by running a custom timedemo, first at 800×600 with the lowest detail options, then again at 1366×768 with everything cranked up except for v-sync, antialiasing, and anisotropic filtering, which were all left disabled. With the Eee PC and Aspire One 522, we opted for respective native resolutions of 1024×600 and 1280×720 instead of 1366×768.

Far Cry 2

In Far Cry 2, we selected the “Action” scene from the game’s built-in benchmark and ran it in two configurations; first at 1366×768 in DirectX 10 mode with detail cranked up, then at that same resolution in DX9 mode with the lowest detail preset. Vsync and antialiasing were left disabled in both cases. Again, the Eee PC and Aspire One 522 were run at 1024×600 and 1280×720, respectively.

Although the Series 9 has Intel HD Graphics 3000, the fully enabled version of Sandy Bridge’s integrated graphics processor, the IGP is clocked at just 350MHz because we’re dealing with a low-voltage 17W CPU. Standard Sandy Bridge notebook chips with 35W power ratings run their IGPs at a much quicker 650MHz. Turbo Boost can push the IGP clock higher in both cases, but it’s clear the Series 9 is at a disadvantage versus the Asus K53E, whose Intel HD Graphics 3000 is tied to a 35W CPU. Even when plugged in, the Series 9 churns out unplayable frame rates in three of our four gaming tests.

Off the beaten path

Now that the scientific game testing is out of the way, let’s try to run a few other titles and get a feel for the kinds of settings this notebook lets us use. We’ll be tracking frame rates using Fraps and keeping an eye out for incompatibilities and graphical anomalies, too.

It never hurts to be ambitious—except if you try to play Bulletstorm on the Series 9. Happily, the game ran. No graphical anomalies jumped out at me, but it was slow. Very slow. As in, Fraps reported frame rates in the 11-20 FPS range at 800×600 with everything turned down in the “Hideout” Echo.

We tempered our expectations a little and gave Portal 2 a shot. This game is based on Valve’s aging and relatively undemanding Source engine, so it ought to run well, right? Well, yes and no. At 1366×768 with low detail settings, trilinear texture filtering, and no antialiasing, frame rates oscillated between 18 and 33 FPS in one of the levels from the first part of the game—a large, fairly empty area with a tall ceiling and jump pads. It was playable, but dips below 30 FPS made rapid timing of moves somewhat difficult. You’d probably want to dial back the resolution to have a good experience there.

Last, but not least, we tried a simple indie game. Edge has been a staple of my iPhone gaming regimen for some time now, and the PC version is also a lot of fun. Believe it or not, getting the frame rate past 20 FPS at 1366×768 in this title involved toggling the “effects” setting in the menu. Once that was done, the game looked almost as good as before and ran pleasantly fast, with the FPS counter stuck at around 40. No complaints there.

While the Series 9’s Intel integrated graphics may let you run relatively modern 3D games, having a smooth, playable experience is by no means a given. In fact, you probably shouldn’t count on it. Anyone hoping to use the Series 9 to kill time will probably want to beef up their library of indie titles.

Video playback

Video decoding performance was tested using the same Iron Man 2 trailer in multiple formats. Windows Media Player was used for the H.264 QuickTime clips, while Firefox hosted the windowed YouTube test. We tested a bit differently this time. Windows 7’s Performance Monitor was still used to log CPU utilization for the duration of the trailer, but we played each video three times and grabbed the lowest utilization numbers for each. That should provide more representative numbers untarnished by CPU utilization from background processes.

  CPU utilization Result
Iron Man 2 H.264 480p 0-9.5% Perfect
Iron Man 2 H.264 720p 0-6.4% Perfect
Iron Man 2 H.264 1080p 0-9.1% Perfect
Iron Man 2 YouTube 720p windowed

(Flash 10.2)

12.6-35.7% Perfect

In spite of its low clock speed, the Intel IGP enables silky smooth 1080p video playback on the Series 9. Flash video playback is fine, too. Now, what happens if we unplug the Series 9 and run our two most demanding video tests using the “optimized” battery profile?

  CPU utilization Result
Iron Man 2 H.264 1080p 0-16.9% Perfect
Iron Man 2 YouTube 720p windowed

(Flash 10.2)

24.3-73.1% Frequent dropped frames

1080p H.264 playback remains smooth, but Flash can’t handle the battery profile’s clock speed cap. Too bad. Of course, nothing stops you from switching to a different battery profile if you must have smooth Flash video while on the go.

Battery life

To gauge run times, we conditioned our systems’ batteries by cycling them two times. For the web browsing test, we used TR Browserbench 1.0, which consists of a static version of the TR home page that cycles through different text content, Flash ads, and images, all the while refreshing every 45 seconds. Then, we tested video playback in Windows Media Player by looping an episode of CSI: New York encoded with H.264 at 480p resolution (straight from an HTPC). Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were enabled for the web browsing test and disabled for movie playback.

We attempted to keep the display brightness consistent across all systems, choosing levels corresponding to a readable brightness in indoor lighting. A 40% brightness setting was used on the Acer 1810TZ, Asus K53E, Asus N82Jv, Eee PC 1015PN (in its “Super Performance” mode), HP Pavilion dm1z, Toshiba Satellite T235D. We used a 50% setting on the Aspire One 522, Eee PC 1015PN in “Battery Saving” mode (since disabling the Nvidia GPU seemed to reduce brightness), as well as on the U33Jc. Because of their dim, matte displays, the HP ProBook 6460b and AMD A8-3500M systems were tested with 70% brightness settings. Conversely, because of its high display luminosity, the Series 9 was tested at a 30% brightness (and with its adaptive brightness setting disabled).

You saw the performance impact of the default battery profile on the last few pages. Unfortunately, even when using that profile, the Series 9’s battery life is nothing to write home about—less than five hours of web surfing and just over four hours of video playback. The six-cell battery has a generous 6,300-mAh rating, which is actually better than the 5,200-mAh rating for the Asus K53E’s battery, which keeps that system up and running for longer than the Series 9 (and without a performance-sapping power profile).

Surface temperatures

We measured temperatures using an infrared thermometer at a distance of 1″ from the system after it had been running TR Browserbench 1.0 for about an hour.

36°C

98°F

  34°C

93°F

  38°C

100°F

 
30°C

87°F

  30°C

86°F

35°C

95°F

  35°C

96°F

  35°C

96°F

 
30°C

87°F

  32°C

89°F

The Series 9 doesn’t pack particularly powerful hardware, so these somewhat low surface temperatures are no surprise. You won’t scald your thighs with this laptop.

Conclusions

By charging $1,299 for the base Series 9 model, and thereby going toe to toe with Apple, Samsung is showing bold confidence in its product. For the most part, I’d say that confidence is warranted. The Series 9 looks great, feels slim and slick, and doesn’t weigh much. The solid-state drive makes it fast and responsive, and the low-voltage Sandy Bridge processor more than holds its own—even catching up to last year’s regular-voltage CPUs in certain tests. I was particularly impressed with the display, which is uncannily bright and has surprisingly good horziontal viewing angles… not to mention a matte finish.

Now, the Series 9 isn’t a home run. The keyboard feels awfully mushy, and the presence of glossy plastic both on the display bezel and around the keyboard makes little sense on such an upscale laptop. Also, getting at the system’s expansion ports involves entirely too much fumbling. It’s too bad Samsung didn’t draw inspiration from the latest MacBook Air models, which have more accessible ports—though they do have fewer of them.

Those are just nitpicks, though. The Series 9’s real weakness is its battery life, which is likely an artifact of the notebook’s slender frame. In a way, the Series 9 seems like a majestic bird of prey with clipped wings. Everything about this laptop’s design compels you to take it outside and use it on the go, but you’ll find yourself hunting for an outlet by the time your mid-afternoon coffee break rolls around—even when using the performance-crippling default battery profile. What a pity.

Comments closed
    • xiaomimm
    • 8 years ago
    • xiaomim
    • 8 years ago
    • DavidC1
    • 8 years ago

    It’s still short of the Macbook Air. As much as I’d like to see a non-Apple alternative, this is just a more expensive, lower performing one. This laptop isn’t impressive at all.

    Compare these two with the identical 2537m chips:

    [url<]http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/lenovo-thinkpad-edge-e220s.aspx?page=2[/url<] [url<]http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/samsung-series-9.aspx[/url<] (3DMark06/WoW Recommended/WoW Max) Lenovo E220S: 3135/24/10 Series 9: 2188/14/7 Ignore the HDD related ones as the Lenovo has HDD and Series 9 has SSD. But Transcoding (Oxelon Transcode Test/Cyberlink Mediashow Espresso) Lenovo E220S: 61 seconds/41 seconds Series 9: 89 seconds/47 seconds What about the 11-inch Macbook Air with the recently updated, yet same 17W class 2467M CPU? [url<]http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/apple-macbook-air-11-inch-2011.aspx?mode=benchmarks[/url<] It gets 4100 in 3DMark06, which is TWICE the Series 9. I'll give credit for Samsung to create something in this category. But the engineering result plain sucks. This laptop with the 2nd generation Core i5 ULV performs like the 1st gen Core i5 ULV chips at lower clock speed. That is, 20-30% behind with the exact same specs.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Yes. Samsung screwed up. Sony did a bit better:

      [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4748/sony-vaio-sb-all-day-consumer-computing[/url<]

      • rootheday3
      • 8 years ago

      The results for graphics are strangely low relative to other Sandybridge ULV parts. It looks like the Samsung comes with very old drivers – the 2266 driver build mentioned in the review is from ~March. There have been two major driver updates since then (2361 and 2509). Both significantly reduce driver overhead and improve gaming performance – especially on ULV systems.

      It also appears that Samsung may have screwed up their thermal design resulting in throttling OR they screwed up the power settings and are overconstraining the system. Apple is clearly able to get much more performance out of the very same part.

    • Bauxite
    • 8 years ago

    Ultrathin is the new gloss.

    Lightweight is a useful improvement in portability, ultrathin is a fashion exercise with glaring disadvantages…just like gloss.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      There’s a difference, though: thinness can be a virtue [i<]all else being equal[/i<]. Gloss never is. If you can get all the other attributes you want -- battery life and available ports and whatever -- and have that fit into a thinner package, it's a win. Nobody wants all the same features but in a [i<]glossier[/i<] package.

    • Hrunga Zmuda
    • 8 years ago

    What a pathetically snarky story. Can you Apple haters just get over it already?

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      I thought it was mildly entertaining, and I’m very sorry to hear that your dog was hit by a bus recently.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Looks gorgeous, wish there was better battery life and a discrete GPU!

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      And I wish there was better battery life and a lower price. A discrete GPU would just interfere with both of those priorities, and my usage of an ultraportable is perfectly served by even Intel’s integrated graphics.

        • BlackStar
        • 8 years ago

        And I wish this used an AMD APU instead of a godawful Intel one.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          Consumes too much power. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the battery life for a slightly better GPU when the GPU isn’t really that important.

            • BlackStar
            • 8 years ago

            The dm1z (E-350) has considerably better battery life than this:

            Web-surfing: 6.2 (dm1z) vs 4.7 (series-9)
            Movie playback: 5.0 (dm1z) vs 4.0 (series-9)

            Both systems use 63Wh batteries.

            So yeah, you are mistaken once again. Not only would the E-350 perform better, it would have lower power consumption and run cooler to boot.

            You think that GPUs are unimportant, but the ability to run the odd game on the go is priceless. Good luck playing Mass Effect 2 or Portal 2 on an Intel ultraportable.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            I guess the thing I was thinking about is that I need utility out of a laptop and without adequate graphics power I feel my utility would be limited, why not get a transformer for less money ya know.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            First, I assumed you were talking about Llano that actually has a fighting chance to compete with SB… while Zacate is a real CPU wannabe.

            Second, even E-350 loses to SB in power efficiency when SB is used better; check out this Sony review to see what SB is capable of, and how E-350 compares:

            [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4748/sony-vaio-sb-all-day-consumer-computing[/url<] Bottom line: Samsung screwed up, and Series 9 is not a good example of a solid SB notebook.

          • kamikaziechameleon
          • 8 years ago

          AMEN! Intel has no idea what they are doing with graphics.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      but gosh it does look pretty!

    • FireGryphon
    • 8 years ago

    Wow, that’s a lot of data.

    • lex-ington
    • 8 years ago

    Is there something in the review I am missing as to why the A8 was left out of all the game benches? I know its a review laptop, but the Intel review laptop is there a few times . . . . or am I smoking something?

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      The Intel review laptop was run through the gaming portion of our mobile testing suite. The Llano review laptop was not; Scott ran a battery of other, more varied gaming tests on it, instead. See here:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/21099/[/url<]

    • puppetworx
    • 8 years ago

    Time and time again Apple leads the way due to it’s superior battery performance.

    When will these other companies realize the battery technology is key?

      • smilingcrow
      • 8 years ago

      Battery life for a laptop is key if you use it outside your home much. But a lot of laptops rarely if ever leave the house so for those it’s much less of a priority.
      I think battery life for a tablet or smart phone is generally more of an issue for consumers.

        • leor
        • 8 years ago

        Battery life is probably pretty important on an ULTRAPORTABLE laptop, wouldn’t you say?

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      Probably when it impacts their profit margins/bottom line to a great degree.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    For $1300, I don’t want to see any glossy plastic anywhere.

    I don’t even want to see glossy plastic at $500 but at least you kind of expect cheap, nasty materials at a low price point.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    Ultrabooks seem like a ultrafail. I thought the whole deal with ultrabooks was the form factor of a ultraportable with a cheap price. Netbooks seem to fall into that description. Maybe I am spoiled because I remember how much ultraportable laptops cost and I have seen the form factor with current netbooks. I moved from a EeePC 1000HA to a Thinkpad X120e and am completely happy. I wasa excited about this review until I saw the price. It’s back to ultraportable prices. That is if you want a thin “performance” laptop you are going to pay top dollar. I thought the whole point was getting this type of machine for under $100. Hell even maybe $600 or so. Very nice laptop but with the current pricing, no thanks.

    This actually makes the MacBook Air 11″ look like a fantastic deal. I just wish I could be seen in public with a Apple product.

      • sschaem
      • 8 years ago

      The air 11″ is 999$, the serie 9 11″ is 999$ .. not a big difference.
      I think the first version was out around april, and they have a refresh.

      I cant say that its a great deal over apple, but its not that far off in term of build quality / component and price.

      • smilingcrow
      • 8 years ago

      Ultrabooks haven’t been released yet!

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this Samsung not an ultrabook..?

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          It’s not cheap enough…so expect worse.

          • smilingcrow
          • 8 years ago

          No. From the review:

          “There’s been a lot of talk lately about ultrabook. The problem is, those systems are still nowhere to be found. So, what does one buy if on the market for an ultra-slim laptop right now?”

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Got it, thanks!

          • Farting Bob
          • 8 years ago

          It is though. It matches every single criteria Intel set out to (well the 11″ one does, the others obviously are too expensive, but only the base model seems to count) for what an “ultramegasuperbookz0r” is. This is what an ultrabook will be in a few months time, maybe a bit more expensive though.

    • ltcommander.data
    • 8 years ago

    Samsung must be getting a unit discount to help clear Intel’s old processors. The Intel Core i5-2537M 1.4GHz process the Series 9 uses has already been replaced by the faster 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M that Apple uses in the 13″ MacBook Air. Intel lists them both at the same price so it’s curious that Samsung is using the older and slower CPU. It’s ironic too seeing the complaints about the previous gen MacBook Air using old CPUs.

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834131129&nm_mc=AFC-Techreport&cm_mmc=AFC-Techreport-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA[/url<] I find it disappointing that Samsung isn't able to undercut Apple on pricing since their base $1299 13" model merely matches Apple's base $1299 MacBook Air price yet offers a slower processor, lower resolution screen, shorter battery life, and likely cheaper building materials by using metal on plastic (Intel notes the high cost of machine aluminum unibodies as Apple uses in the link below.) This time, it looks like if you want the best specs for the price you should actually go for a Mac, and the Samsung Series 9's main distinction is that it runs Windows 7 for those you just can't stand a Mac. [url<]http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20093867-64/intel-executive-talks-ultrabook-form-function-q-a/[/url<]

      • sschaem
      • 8 years ago

      Those laptops where released like 6 month ago. Check the web for review back in april 2011 for the serie 9.
      Apple macbook air at the time where still core2 duo based…

        • ltcommander.data
        • 8 years ago

        I didn’t know the Series 9 was launched so long ago given the recent release of this review. Still the faster 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M used in the MacBook Air has been available from Intel for almost for almost 3 months now. It’s still curious that Samsung hasn’t adopted it to replace the previous 1.4GHz Core i5-2537M given Intel is selling them for the same price. I thought PC OEMs tend to be a little more flexible in creating new model variants to adopt the latest technologies rather than adhering to a strict refresh cycle as Apple does regardless of what else is on the market.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          Whatever price per unit you saw is not what or how Samsung and Apple pay. It’s not as if Samsung makes five at a time and then says, “Eh…how about we order some of that new one for the next five?” They have huge contracts, and if you pay close attention, you’ll find that many particular “models” of laptop CPUs and graphics cards are used only by certain OEMs.

          Find a list of all the SKUs. There are hundreds upon hundreds of them, with seemingly pointless variations. Many are likely “made” only once, binned over X amount of time, and then they change something, maybe a new stepping, maybe something less significant, and come up with yet another list of SKUs.

    • crazybus
    • 8 years ago

    Cyril, your weights for Macbooks are incorrect. The 13″ Air is 2.96 lbs, not 2.38 (slightly heavier than the 9) and the 13″ Pro is 4.5 lbs, not 5.6.

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      Oops. Fixed. Thanks for the heads up!

    • WillBach
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]One could turn to the dark side, put on a coat, hat, and sunglasses, and head to a local Apple store to purchase a MacBook Air.[/quote<] Cyril, your comment about the mock fear a PC enthusiast feels about being caught in an Apple store reminds me of one of my favorite Penny Arcade strips: [url=http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/01/11<]Oh My Dear Sweet Lord[/url<] 🙂

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    That is hands down the prettiest PC notebook I’ve ever seen.

    Love the touchpad.

    I don’t even take too much offense at the shiny plastic bezel, even though I do wish it were not so.

    4.7 hours of battery life is absolutely ample as far as I’m concerned.

    But the screen resolution is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. Especiall on a $1200 notebook. It’s unacceptable on Apple’s stuff too. I really miss the good old 4:3 aspect ratio.

    Nice effort, Samsung. Don’t give up on it. Keep tweaking it. Iteration after iteration. Small changes. And you will achieve great things.

    But if you just allow this to be another model on the pile and you let it die as if it’s “been there done that” it would be great folly.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 8 years ago

      Samsung’s Series 7 laptops look more interesting to me:

      [url<]http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/30/samsung-unveils-series-7-laptops-we-go-hands-on/[/url<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4716/samsung-releases-series-7-laptops[/url<] Especially with the default screen resolution of 1600x900. They look pretty thin and the weight doesn't go above 5 lbs. (and frankly weight isn't a metric I give a crap about when we're comparing 3 and 5 lbs laptops, since I'm not a weakling)

      • Vhalidictes
      • 8 years ago

      This is completely insane. Am I seeing things, or is this Samsung destroyed by a bone-standard Zacate machine that costs literally half as much?

      It does look very clean, but the DM1Z puts up a decent fight in the looks department too…

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]This is completely insane. Am I seeing things, or is this Samsung destroyed by a bone-standard Zacate machine that costs literally half as much?[/quote<] Pretty much. I'd say this is pure [b<]Intel SB Ultrabook fail[/b<]. I'll wait for Ivy Bridge or Haswell before considering an Ultrabook... it looks like trying to squeeze SB into a sub-20W TDP comes with excessive sacrifices.

          • flip-mode
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, the performance is pretty lousy unless plugged in. I guess Apple still wins by a landslide.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Why is Apple getting that performance and battery life out of Macbooks, but Samsung isn’t…? Did Samsung do something wrong?

            Power-hungry display? Some third-party USB3/Ethernet chip that don’t idle well? Awful power settings for the WiFi? Maybe it’s that 256GB Samsung SSD..?

            • axeman
            • 8 years ago

            The OS. /dons flame retardant suit.

            • sschaem
            • 8 years ago

            Apple state “upto 5 hours” for their newest macbook air 11″ model.
            Samsung state “upto 7 hours” for their serie9 11″ model. The samsung is also a bit lighter…

            both state “upto 7hours” for their 13″ model

            Where did you see that the macbook are faster and using less power ?

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            I was looking at Anand’s Macbook review (13″) and this TechReport Samsung review (also 13″):

            Performance (x264 encoding):
            [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/21551/6[/url<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4205/the-macbook-pro-review-13-and-15-inch-2011-brings-sandy-bridge/17[/url<] Battery life (web surfing): [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/21551/8[/url<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4205/the-macbook-pro-review-13-and-15-inch-2011-brings-sandy-bridge/15[/url<]

            • crazybus
            • 8 years ago

            Laptop Mag did a battery comparison test between the two:

            [url<]http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptop/apple-macbook-air-13-2011.aspx?page=3[/url<]

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            I just saw Anandtech’s SB-based Sony Vaio review. Crazy battery life; even Zacate couldn’t compete.

            [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4748/sony-vaio-sb-all-day-consumer-computing[/url<] So, it's clear that SB platform is capable of great efficiency. Seems like Samsung just botched the job.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, almost, but only in battery [b<]saving[/b<] mode for the Samsung which runs the CPU at 50% speed. The graphs just say 'battery' from which it is too easy to presume whenever it's running on the battery. Other notebooks are labeled 'battery [b<]saving[/b<]' and I think Cyril ought to clarify the graph labeling for the Samsung too.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          I wouldn’t mind seeing how good/bad the battery life is in “non-battery-saving” mode. Because if getting decent performance means <3h battery life, this is crap no matter how pretty it is.

        • Joe Miller
        • 8 years ago

        DM1Z is actually only 1/3rd of the price. And to put a non-standard Ethernet connector on the Samsung, so that one needs to carry an adapter …

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        ? the dmz1 is half the speed in anything beside light gaming.

          • BlackStar
          • 8 years ago

          The dm1z does everything an ultraportable needs to do, plus gaming and has one of the best keyboards you can find out there.

          The series-9 does everything, minus gaming, with an awful keyboard, costs 3 times as much and looks/performs worse than the similarly-priced Air. Ergo, it’s not a good buy.

      • sn_85
      • 8 years ago

      Apple doesn’t use a 1366×768 resolution nor any 16:9 resolution on their laptops. Which is why for the same price I went with the Macbook Air, it has a 1440×900 resolution.

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        They do. The newest macbook air 11″ is 1366×768, the exact same as the 11″ samsung serie9.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      Are you suggesting that they flood the market with iteration after iteration until they get it “right”? That’s not good for the consumer at all.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        No, not at all. I’m suggesting they do exactly what Apple does, which I think has born excellent results.

    • mattthemuppet
    • 8 years ago

    a bit off topic, but why is hibernation bad for SSDs?

    bit of a shame about the Series 9 though – the ports issue, poor battery life, mushy board and remnants of plastic put me off, even though the rest looks pretty good

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      It isn’t [i<]bad[/i<]. It [i<]very very slightly[/i<] decreases the life on SSD's given the extra writes required. However, you are just as likely to write booting your OS for things like pagefile and logs, so the difference is minimal. Check out [url=http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?271063-SSD-Write-Endurance-25nm-Vs-34nm<]this forum[/url<] for some samples of what it takes to kill SSD's. A ridiculous amount of writing, and most are well above the spec rated. OCZ suggests disabling hibernation/sleep, which is complete bulls**t, and no backing in terms of actual reasons why other than they can't figure out what is wrong with their Sandforce-based drives.

        • crazybus
        • 8 years ago

        There’s also the issue of hibernation taking a non-insignificant chunk of storage space.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          I don’t remember the last time I hibernated… Sleep on modern laptops eats so little battery that they last for days

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        It does use a chunk of the drive (a fairly significant chunk if you loaded up on memory and cheaped out on the SSD), but the wear aspect depends on how often you actually hibernate. If it’s fairly rare, you make actually be increasing the life since you’ve got a large chunk of flash that is sitting around available for wear-leveling. And as indeego says, it’s not like writes are entirely absent from a cold boot either.

        Note too that while the hiberfile must be the same size as your RAM to handle the worst case, in actual use not all of that will be written to in most hibernation scenarios: generally you have some free RAM to begin with, and (as part of the hibernation process) Windows 7 will force a trim on the workingsets of all processes, which causes them to flush a lot of redundant stuff (read-only code pages that can be re-read from the program images, etc) which therefore won’t get written to the hiberfile.

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    You quoted the battery size in mAh but didn’t mention the voltage. Ideally, battery capacity should be quoted in Wh.

      • Joe Miller
      • 8 years ago

      I looked around the net, the voltage is nowhere to be found. 19V power adapters are provided as accessories, yet if you make the calculation Wh = mAh / 1000 * V, you will get 120Wh. So it seems the battery runs at 6V or 7.5V, so that you get a value somewhat around the expected ~40 – 50Wh.

        • crazybus
        • 8 years ago

        It has a 46 Wh battery. [url<]http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Samsung-900X3A-Subnotebook.50378.0.html[/url<]

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Looks sexy as hell but I’m really turned off by the battery life. If they dropped the price a few hundred I’d be able to deal with it but at that price battery should last longer.

    • axeman
    • 8 years ago

    That multi-lingual layout and unholy shaped enter key should rot in hell. All the consumer stuff in Canada is saddled with that layout now. If I want a proper US English layout, I have to buy laptop in the good ol’ USA? WTF. In Canada:

    Language most often used at work:

    English: 78.3%
    French: 21.7%
    Non-official languages: 2.0%

    Languages by language used most often at home:[23]

    English: 67.1%
    French: 21.5%
    Non-official languages: 11.4%

    But we all get this keyboard layout now? Good grief. I literally can almost never hit the enter key when using that layout, because the bottom part of the enter is skinnier. The fact the fscking backslash key is moved is just the icing on the turd cake. Even most OS makers default to US English keyboard layouts when you choose Western Canada for your location. AFAIK if you buy an “English” model Mac in Canada you get a US keyboard layout, so I’m guessing the other consumer brands are just being lazy, so they don’t have to carry a second model of anything for French speakers anymore.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I noticed that this summer with my nieces’ new “ready for college” notebooks. They didn’t seem to mind so much, and maybe that’s just because they’ve had that layout inflicted on them for so long already, but I found it borderline unusable (and that’s only because I wasn’t trying to write, which would’ve been a nightmare).

      I assumed there was some government mandate at work (as in: any government purchases required that layout) driving this. It can’t just be OEM “laziness” / inventory cost-control, because it seems to afflict the build-to-order guys as well, and presumably they otherwise would be able to just offer the US keyboard as an option.

      • crazybus
      • 8 years ago

      I’d give you +100 if I could. The Canadian multilingual keyboard layout is a spawn of Satan. I would never purchase a notebook with that layout unless it were easily swappable.

        • demani
        • 8 years ago

        Ironically, Peter Brights rant about ultrabooks over on Ars rails against the US layout in favor of the UK layout which is very similar to the canadian layout.

        As for this machine, screen gets points for matte, loses for resolution, gets points for ports, loses for requireing an ethernet adapter, gets points for size, but loses for squishy keyboard (which I think is all the more important for a machine that is aimed at the traveler, and which often will be used on a lap). And he CPU just doesn’t make sense to me (how can apple get something better for their machine?).

        I would like to se a MBA 13in put through its paces as well. Would a MBA+Windows license be a good/better value?

          • axeman
          • 8 years ago

          He’s also probably not a Canadian or American. I would like to see his argument – I can see the benefits of an extra key (which is to the right of the smaller left shift key), but as far as moving stuff around, well, that’s a pain in the ass for any decent typist IMO. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If there are more compelling reasons for switching, I’d be interested – perhaps there are more subtle advantages to the “International Layout”. Seriously, though, how could it be? I can’t see the shape of that enter key being any sort of advantage.

          In other news, today I learned that the 102 key layout (105 with Windows Keys) is used just about everyone excepting Korean and Japanese layouts, so maybe resistance is futile. For some reason Czech and Dutch (I hate the Dutch) use variations of the US 101/104 layout though.

          • UberGerbil
          • 8 years ago

          Like I said, it’s all what you’re used to. As a card-carrying member of the Model-M club, I’m not about to argue against subjective preference when it comes to keyboards.

          That said, however, it’s hard to make an [i<]objective[/i<] argument in favor of wasting that much vertical keyboard space on the Enter key. It makes sense to have the Enter key somewhat larger than the typing keys, and especially to expand it horizontally so that it isn't a strain to reach. But swallowing up the space for the keys above it seems completely unnecessary. Back in the days when typist was a job with carefully crafted requirements for speed and accuracy and there were tends of thousands of (mostly) women doing it, IBM invested a lot of R&D in perfecting keyboard layout and action to meet those requirements. The result was the Selectric typewriter, and the lessons from it carried over to the Model M. There's a reason for just about everything in that layout, and that layout doesn't feature a ginormous vertical Enter key.

      • Myrmecophagavir
      • 8 years ago

      Hey, that’s our UK keyboard layout you’re knocking there too! :-O

        • axeman
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t have anything against against the layout, if you need it. IIRC this layout has an extra key, as well. If you need a pound sign, euro symbol, accented characters, etc, great. But for those of us that will never, ever need these characters, having to alter your typing style and undo 20 years of muscle memory is irritating.

      • Diogenes
      • 8 years ago

      There’s nothing bi-lingual or multi-lingual about the keyboard. All of the keys, as anyone can plainly see, are in English. The keyboard layout, with its large enter key, is the one used by the rest of the English speaking world. You can see this on Australian, UK, etc. keyboards.

    • sschaem
    • 8 years ago

    Wasn’t this ultrabook (sandybridge, ULV, ssd) released back in march 2011?
    I know someone that got the 13″ model early this summer at frys (open box price redux) and the review for this laptop dated from mar/arpil…

    • nagashi
    • 8 years ago

    The article starts and ends with comparisons against a macbook air, but doesn’t actually benchmark the two against each other? >_>;

    I handled one of these the other day in a best buy. Seems like a pretty ok machine, but that’s just not enough pixels. Their next gen ultrabook looks a LOT nicer though (1600×900 :D). Hopefully you guys will get one of those to review.

      • sschaem
      • 8 years ago

      Well, its a pretty old machine by todays standard. And the res is decent for a 11.6inch screen.
      I just wish netbook where that light and thin and didn’t cost >400$… maybe 2012

        • nagashi
        • 8 years ago

        Except the samsung is a 13″, not an 11″.

          • sschaem
          • 8 years ago

          [url<]http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-NP900X1A-A01US-11-6-Inch-Laptop-Black/dp/B004NF0LGG[/url<] Exact same screen size as the 11.6inch macbook air.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    $[s<]1,299[/s<] [b<][i<]2,050[/b<][/i<] for Intel HD3000 graphics? This is a lot more like an Apple than I expected.... EDIT: OMG, even the [i<]premium[/i<] model of an 'ultrabook' has el-cheapo graphics?

      • drfish
      • 8 years ago

      Especially considering the Air actually starts at $999 now (for the 11″ model)…

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        Samsung also include a 11.6″ screen Serie9 for <1000$

      • demani
      • 8 years ago

      Different market needs. Gamers and engineers aren’t going to buy a thin and light- they need more cooling than can be packed in (and a beefier CPU). So it makes sense for the target market, and you just don’t happen to fit in that target right now.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]...it makes sense for the target market, and you just don't happen to fit in that target right now[/quote<] Story Of My Life: it's an inside joke, and I'm on the outside 🙂

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      You expect a discrete GPU in a laptop half an inch thick? Really???

      If you want to game on your laptop, may i suggest one far better suited to gaming, not a mega-thin low power model? This model is enough to handle most day to day tasks pretty damn well, but we arent yet at the point where a ULV laptop IGP is capable of playing crysis at 60fps.

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