LAS VEGAS--No matter how much you prepare for a trade show like CES, what you see on the floor never quite matches what news you get beforehand.
In the case of Samsung, we had a chance to look at the new Samsung Series 9 and Series 5 Ultra ultrabook, but were surprised by quite a few intriguing laptops at Samsung's booth, which we should expect to see later this year.
The Series 7 Gamer is a big-boned, lights-and-flash gaming laptop, the antidote to ultrabooks. Units on the show floor came in bright yellow and red candy colors, and bright LED lights and strobing effects graced a number of the stylized controls. The Series 7 has a tuning wheel for game settings and a "gaming mode" button that transforms the system into an optimized gaming machine, complete with over-the-top sound effects. The LED-backlit keyboard changes color, too, highlighting the standard gaming keys in red.
Samsung promises a top-of-the-line screen on the Series 7 Gamer. Specs are a bit of a mystery, but plaques on the show floor claimed a second-gen Intel Quad-Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon HD6970M graphics (Samsung's reps asked us not to report this, but the information was clearly visible on the plaque; perhaps these graphics are subject to change), a 400-nit 1,920x1,080-pixel LED display, and Dolby Home Theater Surround v4.
The Series 7 Chronos, a laptop I reviewed positively last year, has a 17-inch version in the works. The looks are nearly identical to the Chronos of last year, but the speakers have been revamped to a JBL-branded sound bar.
The second-generation Samsung Series 9 has already captured our eye in its 13-inch version, but there's also a 15-inch Series 9 in the works. The floor model of the larger but still razor-thin laptop looks to be the thinnest 15-incher I've ever seen.
Speaking of the 13-inch Series 9, I also spotted a dusty-rose-colored model bedazzled with crystals.
Samsung's Series 5 Ultra ultrabook has a non-ultrabook cousin known simply as the Series 5, and these mainstream laptops will replace the QX and RF series of laptops that often populated retailers like Best Buy. The clean look of the Series 5 is attractive, and like the Series 7, JBL speakers have been added.
Undaunted by the prospects of irrelevance, Samsung also had new Series 5 Chromebooks (the Series 5 moniker is used here, too, confusingly) on display. Unlike last year's Chromebooks, these will be using Celeron processors instead of Atom. These versions might not be as overpriced as last year's models, but the idea of a Web-only OS like Chromebook still seems pointless in a landscape of tablets and ultrabooks.
Finally, tucked off to the side of Samsung's booth, I spied a solar-powered Atom Netbook. The solar panel's embedded on the laptop's back lid. The Netbook was lumped together with other eco-friendly gadgets, a concept device; but it's actually a good idea, though. The solar lid looks attractive, and the back lid of most laptops amounts to wasted space.
Click above for close-up looks of all the laptops we saw on the show floor.