Friday, March 30, 2012

Preview: Samsung Series 9 13.3-inch (2012)

Samsung's original Series 9 notebook was launched early last year before Intel introduced the Ultrabook concept, but it's an Ultrabook in all but name (and price). The Korean manufacturer unveiled an updated version, together with a 15-inch variant at this year's CES and again, it's not calling it an Ultrabook. Instead, the company hailed it as the "world's thinnest and most compact premium notebook".

With the latest Series 9, there's no mention of the duralumin material used on the previous version. We are guessing that Samsung chose to go with ordinary aluminum rather than the extra-tough duralumin (used in aircrafts) due to the cost--the original had a higher price tag than the MacBook Air. However, you will still get an extremely slim laptop with a unibody aluminum chassis that's just 12.9mm thin and weighs only 1.16kg. This compares favorably with the 15.7mm and 1.32kg of its predecessor. Samsung also sandblasted the chassis to make it more resistant to fingerprint smudges.

The 13.3-inch display on the Series 9 gets an upgrade from 1,366 x 768- to 1,600 x 900-pixels. This is inevitable seeing as both the Asus Zenbook UX31E and the HP Envy 14 Spectre offer screens with such a native resolution. Besides the resolution bump, the matte screen is rated at the same 400nits as the 2011 version, which is very bright compared with its competitors.

The chiclet keyboard is backlit and the touchpad is as large as you'll find on a laptop. While the size of the touchpad allows more freedom for multitouch gestures, there's no telling if it will be a delight to use or an exercise in frustration.

We expect the SSD-equipped Series 9 to boot up very quickly. Samsung claims that it can do it in just 9.8 seconds. If the laptop is indeed that fast, it would beat our current speed champ, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (13.5 seconds).

And because this is a luxury tech gadget, Samsung has roped in Italian luxury brand Valextra to create a special leather notebook briefcase for the Series 9. It would be a fitting accessory for such a high-end product.

The Samsung Series 9, which comes with an ultra-low-voltage Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and an SSD, is identical to competing Ultrabooks in the market. However, the 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 was announced with a price tag of US$1,400, with the 15-inch model going for US$1,500. This is a significant premium over the typical Ultrabook--the 13.3-inch model is even more expensive than the HP Envy 14 Spectre by US$100. To be fair, the original 13.3-inch Series 9 had an even higher price tag of US$1,599.

In fact, with Intel's Ivy Bridge processors expected in June, it doesn't quite make sense to pay such a premium for hardware that's likely to be surpassed in a couple of months. However, when it comes to consumer products, it's not just a matter of specs and prices. The slim, lightweight design and the quality of the materials is what you're paying for with a high-end tech product.

Due to its slim profile, the Series 9 comes with a mini-HDMI port and the LAN port requires a dongle. This arrangement is slightly inconvenient for consumers since adapters are necessary, but it's a trade-off for the portability. At least you'll still get two full-sized USB ports, including a single USB 3.0, and there's also an SD card slot.

While the Samsung Series 9 was showcased at the recent Samsung APAC Forum, prices for Asia have not
been announced. Samsung did reveal that they will be available in the second quarter of 2012.

If you can wait a few more months, you're likely to get a better deal in terms of performance and battery life with newer Ivy Bridge laptops. However, the design and quality of the Series 9 may not be easily matched by Windows laptops this year.

View the original article here

Source From CNET

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