[Update: It's worth noting that, is it did with last year's Portege R705 model, retailer Best Buy is selling one of the Portege R835 models at a steep discount. The Portege R835-P50X, with an Intel Core i3 CPU, Wireless Display, and WiMax, is available for $749, while its original list price is $899.]
If you're looking for a thin, stylish 13-inch laptop, this is your lucky month. We've seen an influx of eye-catching, highly portable notebooks making their way through the CNET offices, including the Toshiba Portege R835 and the Samsung Series 9. Add in the current second-gen 13-inch MacBook Air, and you've got a trio of worthy choices at this screen size (we're still waiting to get Sony's new 13-inch Vaio S, which also looks promising).
While the MacBook Air has been the gold standard of ultrathin 13-inchers, the new Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A has done its best to emulate the style on a Windows laptop. It certainly surpasses the MacBook Air in one important category: price. The real question is, do you actually need a superslim laptop if there's a nearly equally lightweight, slightly less-thin option that's much more affordable?
The Toshiba Portege R705 was an Editors' Choice laptop in 2010, and its successor, the Portege R835-P56X, ups the ante in 2011; it earned Editors' Choice honors, too. Its $900-range price is more palatable, and it even has an optical drive in its thinner-than-a-MacBook-Pro chassis.
Apple MacBook Air review
Each of these three systems has its strengths and weaknesses, as well as fans and detractors. We gathered them in one place for acomparison. Check out our cheat sheet of specs below, then click through the rest of our feature to take a tour through our commentary on several key categories: size/weight, battery life, design, price, screen, keyboard, and touch pad. We're not sure there's a clear winner, but if you are, make your case in the comments section below.
|MacBook Air 13-inch||1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo||2GB||128GB SSD||2.9 lbs.||$1,299|
|Samsung Series 9||1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M||4GB||128GB SSD||2.9 lbs.||$1,650|
|Toshiba Portege R835||2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M||4GB||640GB 5,400rpm||3.2 lbs.||$929|