New Samsung Series 9 Portable Ultrabook -

16 Mei 2013

New Samsung Series 9 Portable Ultrabook

Though not the first ultrabook terbaru portable, the original Macbook Air helped redefine the ultra light laptop. Limited versatility and a hefty sticker-price made it a tough sell at first. A few Windows based challengers came like the Dell Adamo, and the Lenovo X300/301 but were too expensive for wide acceptabce as well. In recent times, the ultra slim and light laptop has seen a resur gence thanks to lower prices and better technology.
Today the smaller 11.6" Macbook Air starts at US$999, almost half the price of the original, putting it within the grasp of average middle-class worker bees. It offers enough power get through daily rigors, more capability and flexibility than touchscreen tablets, and a form factor no larger or heavier than necessary. Its popularity has grown significantly since the original Mac Air. Samsung hopes to capture a piece of this quickly growing pie with the Series 9 laptops, ultra slim notebook PCs packing much of the same components, but loaded with Windows 7 and molded in Samsung's own hardware style.
The Series 9 notebooks all share the same basis, with different hardware configurations, denoted by a suffix attached to the base model number, NP900X3A. It's outrageously thin, just 15~16 mm, and very light as well, weighing 1.38 kg (just over 3 lbs) by our measurements. Packing a 13.3" backlit display, our Samsung 9 sample is a close match to the 13-inch Macbook Air, but aesthetically it's undeniably a Windows PC, albeit in a sleeker flavor than we're used to.

The NP900X3A.
The top cover, palm rest area, and the chrome lip running around the center of the machine is composed of duralumin, an aluminum alloy that Samsung claims is twice as strong at the same weight as old fashioned aluminum. The material is surprisingly stiff with no give whatsoever and has a fine brush finish. It is clearly quite rigid, yet is pleasant to touch, having a soft plastic-like feel. Fingerprints accumulate easily, however, and stand out visibly against the black background.
To ensure a thin and light body, ultrabook portable notebooks make some compromises to save space and extend battery life. The Series 9 is no exception, limited to Intel dual core ULV (ultra low voltage) Sandy Bridge processors which run well below 2 GHz, and lack a discrete graphics option. There isn't room for many external connectors, or an optical drive, and the battery isn't user-removable.


Package, contents.

Modular AC adapter.
The NP900X3A ships in a large, fancy black box with a velvety suede-like material covering the surface. It contains the laptop itself, an AC adapter, an RJ45 adapter (a standard RJ45 port takes up too much space so it was miniaturized into a proprietary connector), documentation, a driver/utility disc, and a large nylon mat of unknown purpose. The power adapter is compact, too: The 40W power brick is integrated with the cord in a surprisingly slim 7.8 x 4.8 x 2.8 cm form. it even has a detachable AC plug, presumably with different modules for various countries.
Samsung NP900X3A-A02CA: Specifications
(from the product web page)
Operating System
Genuine Windows® 7 Professional (64-bit)
Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 2537M (1.40 GHz, 3 MB)
Main Chipset Intel HM65
System Memory 8 GB (DDR3 / 4 GB x 2 )
LCD 13.3" LED HD (1366 x 768) 16 : 9
Graphic Processor Intel GMA HD (Int. Graphic)
Graphic Memory Shared Memory (Int. Graphic)
HD (High Definition) Audio
Sound Effect SRS 3D Sound Effect
Speaker 3 W Stereo Speaker (1.5 W x 2)
Integrated Camera 1.3 megapixel HD Webcam
HDD 256 GB (SSD)
Wired Ethernet LAN Gigabit LAN
Wireless LAN Intel 802.11 abgn (2 x 2) + BT3.0
I/O Port HDMI, Headphone-out, Mic-in, Internal Mic, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, Micro SD, RJ45, DC-In (power port)
Keyboard Type 82 key
81 key
Touch Pad, Touch Screen Touch Pad (Scroll Scope, Flat Type, Gesture UI)
AC Adapter 40 Watt (wallmount type)
Standard Battery 6 Cell
Dimension (W x D x H mm) 328.5 x 227.0 x 15.9 ~ 16.3 mm (12.90" x 8.90" x 0.62" ~ 0.64")
Weight (kg) 1.31 kg (2.88 lbs, SSD) / 1.35 kg (2.97 lbs, HDD)

The resolution isn't the only thing that has improved on the Series 9 screen, either: Samsung claims to have replaced the standard backlighting system with something it calls SuperBright Technology, resulting in an image that is up to 50 per cent brighter than rival laptop displays. For those who frequently use their laptops in brightly-lit environments, that could be a major selling point.


In our WorldBench 7 benchmark tests, the Series 9 scores an impressive 154. Thanks to this very high score and some very long battery life, it earned a overall performance score of 91 (relative to other ultraportable laptops). The average overall performance score of past three ultraportables we've tested is 76, so the Series 9 scores very well for its category.

Graphics performance on the Series 9 is also good for its category, but not great overall. In our Dirt 3 graphics tests, the Series 9 managed an acceptable frame rate of 43.9 frames per second, but only at low quality settings and resolution. Of course, when we upped the quality settings to high and the resolution to 1366 by 768 pixels, the Series 9 eked out a barely-playable frame rate of 15.6 fps. This laptop is no gaming machine, but it's not meant to be, as it has no discrete graphics card.
The Series 9 also does well when it comes to battery life, which is surprising, considering it's got a 15-inch screen. We managed to get 7 hours, 36 minutes out of the Series 9. The average battery life of the past three ultraportables we've tested--all of which have 14-inch or smaller screens--is 6 hours, 21 minutes.

Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad

This year's Series 9 is even simpler and more minimalist than last year's design. It's housed in a solid black aluminum chassis, which has none of the plastic accents of last year's model. Its cover is a soft matte-black, with a small silver Samsung logo on the left side. The interior is also simple: a solid aluminum keyboard deck, four pinprick-sized blue LEDs (including one on the Wi-Fi toggle function key and one on the power button), and a small rectangular power button. The keyboard deck has no additional buttons, though it does have several function keys for adjusting screen brightness, volume, keyboard backlight, and so on.
The Series 9 doesn't have a ton of ports, but Samsung gives you a nice selection with what little space it has. The left side of the machine has a Sleep-and-Charge USB 2.0 port, as well as a combination headphone/microphone jack, a mini-HDMI output port, and a small proprietary port for plugging in an included port-to-ethernet dongle. On the right side, you get two USB 3.0 ports, a micro-USB port, and a barely noticeable SD card slot under a little door.
The keyboard and trackpad on the Series 9 are disappointing. The keyboard has island-style keys that are large and widely spaced, but very, very shallow. Thanks to this lack of key travel, the keys offer weak tactile feedback, which makes it difficult to type accurately over long periods of time.
The touchpad is large and soft, and looks and feels like Apple's glass touchpad. It has a thin silver outline and no distinguishable buttons. Unlike the touchpad on last year's model, I didn't find this touchpad to be too sensitive; rather, I found it to be not sensitive enough. Even after installing a driver update, the touchpad didn't always respond when I wanted it to, and multitouch gestures were jerky and inaccurate.

Screen and Speakers

One of the Series 9's most impressive features is its big, bright, matte LED-backlit screen. We were impressed with the previous model's screen, and this model's screen is essentially the same, just with a higher resolution (1600 by 900 pixels instead of 1366 by 768 pixels). It is incredibly bright at the highest brightness setting, which means it's perfect for working on in bright or direct sunlight. It also offers excellent viewing angles, vivid colors, and an antiglare matte finish.
Audio is another story. Though I don't expect studio quality from laptop speakers, especially one as thin as the Series 9, the speakers here are even worse than average. Sound is not just tinny, strung-out, and bass-less, it's also fuzzy at higher levels. For example, I tried watching a Saturday Night Live clip and could barely make out the announcer's words over the audience's applause, because the different sounds kept running into each other.

The Bottom Line

Initially, Samsung's 15-inch Series 9 looks almost perfect. It's thinner, but with a bigger screen, than most Ultrabooks; it's attractive and simple in design; and it performs very well for its category. Unfortunately, it has some drawbacks--namely its shoddy keyboard and touchpad, but also its less-than-impressive speakers. Substandard keyboards and touchpads are more of an issue in ultraportables, since users are unlikely to want to carry around an external keyboard and mouse. The Series 9 also lacks some of the higher-end features we're used to seeing in 15-inch notebooks, such as an optical drive.
The new Series 9 is a tantalizing machine, and it fills the niche of the 15-inch Ultrabook. But I know Samsung can do a better job on the keyboard and touchpad. Until they do, you may want to opt for a cheaper Ultrabook with more accurate input devices, unless you're absolutely set on a 15-inch screen.

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