First look: 12.1-inch Samsung Series 3 laptop, a sibling rival to the Series 9?

Want something like the Samsung Series 9 but costs a lot less money? We take a first peek at the small, light Series 3.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
The 12.1-inch Samsung Series 3: Samsung 9's newest competition?
The 12.1-inch Samsung Series 3: Samsung 9's newest competition? Scott Stein/CNET

The Samsung Series 9 laptop: sexy, yes. Expensive, heck yes. Starting at $1,199 for the 11-inch model, it's not for the faint of wallet. Yet, the very same Samsung surprised us at New York press event with a 12.1-inch laptop, part of the Series 3, that feels nearly as lightweight and, according to Samsung, will cost far less: about $749.

A slim profile.
A slim profile (ignore the USB broadband antenna on the side). Scott Stein/CNET

The Series 3 will actually represent a vast range of laptop sizes, from 11.6 inches all the way up to 15 inches and higher. However, the 12.1-inch Series 3 on display caught our eye the most. Its metallic trim and clean lines almost give it the feel of a Sony Vaio or an Asus ultraportable, brands we continually see reflected in Samsung's laptop looks.

The unit felt surprisingly lightweight in our hands. Even more surprising? According to Samsung reps on-hand, this little 12-incher has a full-voltage Core i5 CPU, unlike the low-voltage Core processors in the Series 9. It will also be enabled for Intel Wireless Display.

With a 13-inch Series 9 sitting right next to it for comparison, it was clear that the Series 3 is thicker. The Series 3 is likely to have a magnetic hard drive as opposed to SSD, too.

Battery life is our biggest question: can a small laptop with a big CPU last long enough to be a must-buy? Color us fascinated. The Series 3 will be available later this year. More to come when formal details arrive.

The Series 3 (right) side by side with the Series 9.
The Series 3 (right) side by side with the Series 9. Scott Stein/CNET