Samsung Series 9 (900X3A) Notebook Review - Where to Buy

By on July 4, 2011

The MacBook Air has true competition.

Samsung Series 9 (900X3A) Notebook Review
There have been a few quite a few ultra-portables inspired by Apple’s super-thin MacBook Air and, clearly, the Samsung Series 9 that I am looking at today is one of them. What differentiates Samsung from others is mostly specs- while other ultra-portables tend to skim out on the specs to keep components cool, the Samsung 900X3A can easily be used as your primary machine. Lets find out if Series 9 has struck the right cord between beauty and brawn.

Packaged in a slick black box, The Samsung Series 9 is one of the most beautiful laptops I’ve seen of late.With measurements of 12.9" (W) x 8.9" (D) x 0.62-0.64 (H), the Samsung U900X certainly comes very close to the MacBook Air 13” that has dimensions of of 12.8x8.9x0.11-0.68. Samsung uses duralumin material for the lid which is also used in airplane construction to give the Series 9 a solid finish. The back has a more soft touch to it making it easy to hold and carry.

Like the first generation of MacBook Air, the Samsung Series 9 has doors that open up to reveal it’s ports. While this creates a nice clean overall look, it also creates an extra step and a cramped up space to connect your equipment- an issue I had with the original MacBook Air. On the left you have a USB 3.0 port, a mini HDMI port and a port where the included wired network dongle connects. The right has a USB 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio input/output jack and a MicroSD card reader. I do wish that Samsung had equipped a regular SD reader but I can understand the space restrains- plus its not so hard to use a MicroSD card with an SD adapter on any of your devices.

Samsung does well with the specs of Series 9. It is equipped with the Core i5-2537M CPU that is dual core and runs at 1.40GHz. Along with that, my review unit featured 4GB of RAM and a 120GB SSD which made booting up the system and launching applications really fast. The Integrated Intel HD Graphics aren’t necessarily the best for 3D games but this laptop isn’t really designed for gaming.

The 13.3” screen on the Samsung Series 9 is simply gorgeous with beautiful the color reproduction. I’m glad Samsung chose a matte finish which I always prefer over glossy screens. About the only thing that seems a bit laid back is the 1366x768 resolution- Samsung should have opted for a slightly higher resolution to make things looks crisper. While nitpicking, also let me add that Samsung equips the Series 9 with a light sensor that automatically adjusts the screen brightness but I had to disable that as it seemed to be working in an over-drive mode with continuous adjustments to the screen brightness.

What I really like about the Samsung Series 9 is the chiclet keyboard that is easily one of the best that I’ve used in recent months. It’s also backlit- a feature missing from the current generation of MacBook Air. While the keyboard works wonderfully, I just couldn’t get comfortable with the multi-touch trackpad that I unintentionally kept tapping- quite a frustrating experience. Two finger scrolling works, but not necessarily as well as I’d hope- I had to repeatedly slide fingers on it to register.

Coming to the performance, the Samsung Series 9 is equipped with a Core i5 CPU and an SSD so I was obviously expecting it to run through our benchmarks without breaking into a sweat. The following table shows the results and compares Series 9 to some of the other notebooks we have tested of late.

CPU Memory 3D Graphics Hard Disk Overall
Samsung Series 9 2583 620 193 1290 790
Lenovo IdeaPad U260 1399 541 190 400 573
HP Pavilion dv3 2989 352 352 694 1195

As you can see from the table above, the Series 9 proved to be faster than Lenovo's thin and light solution but is still not as fast as a full-featured laptop like the HP dv3. Basically, it depends on what you want to do with your laptop- if all you will be doing is browsing the web, checking your emails and creating documents, then the Series 9 works really well especially with it's super fast SSD that launches applications and loads up Windows real fast. However, if you will be doing video encoding or anything else thats taxing then you will find the Series 9 a bit on the slower side.

Wrapping things off, the battery life on the U9 proved to be just about average with me getting a little over five hours out of it while doing standard stuff like browsing the web with the occasional flash video, composing emails and documents. During my tests, Wi-Fi is continuously enabled which I think resembles a real-life usage.

Priced at AED 6,999, the Samsung Series 9 certainly comes out a bit on the pricey side. But when you look at the competition, or the MacBook Air 13", that sells for around the same with a slightly worse CPU but a better battery life and GPU. If Windows is your thing, then the Samsung Series 9 is definitely your best choice for something that is incredibly thin and stylish with good performance.
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